I’ve been connected to the new age movement and community for more than 30 years. In recent years, I observed as the term “New Age” has lost popularity with some of the ol’ gang. Some have adopted the term “new thought community” as a new spin on the same old thing. Honestly, people well versed in new age spirituality, ideas and practices easily own that there’s really nothing new about the concepts we practice.
Something that has not lost any popularity in the new thought community is to identify ourselves as spiritual and not religious. A friend of mine recently asked if I thought people could be religious and spiritual. Here is my response:
Yes, I think people may be religious and spiritual. In my opinion, religion is formalized and organized spiritual practice. Religion has clearly established creed, doctrine and dogma, and religion provides spiritual guidance for the soul. Religion is spiritual in nature and by design. Yet, it is possible to practice a religion without having a spiritual experience.
In the new age community many people want to make it known that they are deeply spiritual without attending church, temple, or mosque, and they are not associated with a formal religion. Most new age spiritual people hold a personal faith, and they don’t feel a need to follow a creed, doctrine, or established dogma. I often hear people say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” as if the two experiences are separate. I have come to accept that this phrase is a shorthand way of saying that they believe in something, perhaps god, eternal life, prayer, a creator, reincarnation, and/or all the above, without belonging to a recognized religion.
The new age movement expertly mines the gold from all the religions of the world while releasing limiting—even damning, doctrine and dogma. We can call it new age or new thought, but from my point of view, it’s about polishing the best of the best spiritual guidance. Rather than promoting separation by saying, “I’m spiritual, but not religious” I adopt the position that I’m religiously spiritual.