How to find spirituality or a sense of deeper meaning as an atheist / agnostic

leniyl

Active Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
67
#1
Growing up in a conservative, NG Kerk society, I've rebelled against religion and dogma since the age of 11. My first memory of it was, during primary school assembly, the indoctrinating question was asked "who here loves Jesus?" I was the only one that didn't raise his hand.

I despised religion and Christianity throughout my school years. It even went so far that my eyes and mind was trained to skip over words like "God" and "Jesus" while reading.

It changed when, during months of drug induced psychosis, obsession, depression and the systematic breakdown of self, that I became a reborn Christian. Hoping that this, this Jesus, would be the answer to my inner turmoil and emptiness. For 3 years I battled through guilt, shame and inadequacy, as I didn't hear or feel this Jesus. I've been given sympathetic words of wisdom, such as "You're not praying right, or hard enough, or long enough". You must have faith, the Bible instructs as so. You were chosen from birth by God. You are washed clean by the blood of the lamb, etc, etc ad naseum.

I spectacularly fell from "grace" and the "greatest sacrifice hanging from the cross". I went into severe drug addiction, and throughout the years, ended up in several rehabilitation centers. The crux and driving force of rehab, is the 12 Step program, which advocates a spiritual life, with a heavy emphasis on the "God of your understanding". Long and the short, it is the Abrahamic Christian God for 90%+ of people I've interacted with.

I'm 40 years old now. I am clean from heroin (which was majestically effective in killing all emotions, and any spiritual quests I might've had) for 14 years. My life to date has left me empty. I've got severe debilitating social anxiety and utterly lonely. I'm losing the people I love because of this.

So, the reason for my post. As an agnostic or atheist if you will, how can I find meaning in my life? I would love to be more spiritual. I actually require it, as I cannot see a life forward without it. Feeling more connected with people and my environment.

I don't know where to begin searching for answers. How to find my way through the wilderness. I literally feel dead inside, and don't know how to change it.

This is mostly me putting words to "paper", for me to formulate my own feelings, thoughts and emotions in an anonymous forum, for other people to read and maybe comment.

Any advise or personal experience would be most helpful.
 

OCP

Expert Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2014
Messages
2,264
#2
As an agnostic atheist my meaning of life is the journey; not the destination.
My kids are my legacy and everything I do is ultimately for them; whilst trying hard to balance everyone's happiness, desires and needs (including my own)

It sounds like you need to find meaning in your life; something/someone what will make you "feel" again.
As you have no idea what that is - go out and do as much as possible; join a club, start a hobby, meet new people.
Along the way you will find answers....
 

copacetic

King of the Hippies
Joined
Nov 22, 2009
Messages
55,742
#3
I wish I had an incredible insight to give along the lines of what a wondrous and magnificent thing it is, simply to be a piece of the universe experiencing itself, and that the fleeting nature of our consciousness should provide a reason to grip each day by the fruits and enjoy it as much as we can while we have the chance, meaningless as it all might ultimately be.

However, this is purely theoretical. It's cold out there, and at the end of the day I honestly don't know what the point is, except to try and leave the world a little bit better than when you entered it, if possible.
 

AstroTurf

Lucky Shot
Joined
May 13, 2010
Messages
26,367
#4
I'm sorry but recent abuse of children in the news has jaded my viewpoint somewhat (to the point where I want to actively kill and am finding it hard to not break everything around me), this may show up on my response...

As an ex addict (around R60k crack at one point per month in around 2000) here is what kept me sane..
Space: I went from place to place, walkabout across South Africa, away from all my usual hangouts.
Weed: I spent a few years just smoking pot instead of drugs.

Now to the Atheist part, I personally realized that every single moment I have is the last. There are no ever afters, there is no eternity, all there is is the now. I may as well live every second as if it is the last. because it literally is. That is the only second I have had, Like responding to this post. I found it worth my time to do so because interaction with fellow beings is priceless.
 

Ancalagon

Honorary Master
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
14,738
#5
I've been an atheist for a long time, over half my life.

I would not call myself spiritual, but then that never bothered me. I never feel the need for something more.

So this is all there is to life - so what? Do you need a super powerful being telling you that he created you because he loves you to feel good about yourself? Or can you learn to just accept yourself for who and what you are?

You are a human being - nothing more, nothing less. Maybe you have a soul, maybe you don't. I believe we don't, but that is just me. When I die, nothing will remain - only memories in the minds of those that knew me.

That does lead me to an important point though - the thing that gives my life meaning are people. Without family and friends that you love, I think life would be very lonely. Pointless? Maybe.

Maybe pets would be enough, I don't know. My point is, you've been told your whole life that you need Big Grand Spirituality to feel happy about life. How about just being happy with life as it is? How about just being content with what you have?
 

LCBXX

Executive Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2006
Messages
9,706
#6
I wish I had an incredible insight to give along the lines of what a wondrous and magnificent thing it is, simply to be a piece of the universe experiencing itself, and that the fleeting nature of our consciousness should provide a reason to grip each day by the fruits and enjoy it as much as we can while we have the chance, meaningless as it all might ultimately be.

However, this is purely theoretical. It's cold out there, and at the end of the day I honestly don't know what the point is, except to try and leave the world a little bit better than when you entered it, if possible.
Read/listen to Dawkins's book "The Selfish Gene".

The other truth is that 1 in 9 of every cell in your body is human. The rest is bacteria; you could almost say we are slaves to life-forms other than our own.
 

mmmig

Honorary Master
Joined
Mar 22, 2010
Messages
10,020
#7
Your purpose in life is be the best at being a human you could possibly be.
 

ekske1

Expert Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2017
Messages
1,161
#8
Growing up in a conservative, NG Kerk society, I've rebelled against religion and dogma since the age of 11. My first memory of it was, during primary school assembly, the indoctrinating question was asked "who here loves Jesus?" I was the only one that didn't raise his hand.

I despised religion and Christianity throughout my school years. It even went so far that my eyes and mind was trained to skip over words like "God" and "Jesus" while reading.

It changed when, during months of drug induced psychosis, obsession, depression and the systematic breakdown of self, that I became a reborn Christian. Hoping that this, this Jesus, would be the answer to my inner turmoil and emptiness. For 3 years I battled through guilt, shame and inadequacy, as I didn't hear or feel this Jesus. I've been given sympathetic words of wisdom, such as "You're not praying right, or hard enough, or long enough". You must have faith, the Bible instructs as so. You were chosen from birth by God. You are washed clean by the blood of the lamb, etc, etc ad naseum.

I spectacularly fell from "grace" and the "greatest sacrifice hanging from the cross". I went into severe drug addiction, and throughout the years, ended up in several rehabilitation centers. The crux and driving force of rehab, is the 12 Step program, which advocates a spiritual life, with a heavy emphasis on the "God of your understanding". Long and the short, it is the Abrahamic Christian God for 90%+ of people I've interacted with.

I'm 40 years old now. I am clean from heroin (which was majestically effective in killing all emotions, and any spiritual quests I might've had) for 14 years. My life to date has left me empty. I've got severe debilitating social anxiety and utterly lonely. I'm losing the people I love because of this.

So, the reason for my post. As an agnostic or atheist if you will, how can I find meaning in my life? I would love to be more spiritual. I actually require it, as I cannot see a life forward without it. Feeling more connected with people and my environment.

I don't know where to begin searching for answers. How to find my way through the wilderness. I literally feel dead inside, and don't know how to change it.

This is mostly me putting words to "paper", for me to formulate my own feelings, thoughts and emotions in an anonymous forum, for other people to read and maybe comment.

Any advise or personal experience would be most helpful.
You need to select something as a purpose for your life and create meaning yourself.

Sadly nothing is going to hop into your lap and say " hey peter this is your mission, and this is your purpose ". Some people decide to help others and that becomes their meaning / meaningful lives. Others goes into making things or enslaving people.

Don't let this bother you to the point of depression. Then you are back at square one.

The thing is... you yourself need to find it. The only way to do this is to start exploring what is outside the current you. Live is not a puzzle you need to solve but something you need to live and experience.

If you want to feel connected; this might sound weird, you need to learn to entertain yourself first. If you can't be happy on your own how would be happy with people or with something? Also you need to be bored. That is the good kind of bored like going for a walk or sitting down in decent open space while being in nature.

Another method includes being of service. That is not being a slave but helping others that are in need. That also doesn't include running around with a cape or stalking everyone to help out. Just when you see a good moment you can ask and then help.

Best would be to start with your immediate circle of people you know.

Finally you can be spiritual by doing something like a tea ceremony. Doesn't mean to be god or the Abramic god. You'd need to find what works for you to be what you would like to be. If its just piety and purity then you can do that without a set faith by living good civic and just life, refining yourself into a better person.
 

leniyl

Active Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
67
#10
For me, the realization that there is nothing, and that it's a cold, dark place out there is very real. I've always known that.
My share about my previous experience with religion was a way of highlighting what I reject in my innermost self. My search for spirituality is not a search for a higher being, or a theistic deity.

I have basically no one, and currently, have no prospects of meeting anyone with my severe social anxiety.

I suppose it is a quest to become a better person than what I currently am. To like myself more and in turn, for other people to, I suppose "like me" is not the term that I'm looking for. More, that they don't reject me outright.

The notion of having a "purpose" in life to me is absurd. A deeper sense of meaning, to me, means, NOT lying in my death bed, alone, hating everything about my life. Something to make living worthwhile.

So, my quest is to find that. That intangible, soft direction into somewhere. Somewhere other than here.
Some have given me some pointers on where to start, and I thank you deeply. I know it's not a destination, but a journey, but I want start that damn journey. I just don't know if I should take a left turn at Albuquerque. Or even where the f&*( Albuquerque is. :)

Thanks for listening
 

gamer16

Expert Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Messages
1,860
#12
Not that I'm of any age or experience to comment so you can take my comment with a grain of salt or simply skip it.

As has been said above in many words I'll try to simplify as I agree with it.

One really cannot go through life by ones self, no matter how many people you see that sing that oh so popular tune of friends are the enemy and love will just end up hurting you in the end.

Be that as it may, true or not, you cannot go through life like that, one need a purpose, something to live for. Ideally a Job, wife and some kids. But these aren't easy to obtain so start small, get a fish a dog or a cat, download The Sims if that is too much for you right now.

Point is there needs to be something that occupies your time, thoughts and senses, a purpose if you will no matter how small.

A purpose, as others will tell you can give you the ability and motivation to overcome great mountains of obstacles, I'm sure you've heard people say they'll do anything for their family, its not an exaggeration.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
42,149
#13
As an agnostic atheist my meaning of life is the journey; not the destination.
My kids are my legacy and everything I do is ultimately for them; whilst trying hard to balance everyone's happiness, desires and needs (including my own)

It sounds like you need to find meaning in your life; something/someone what will make you "feel" again.
As you have no idea what that is - go out and do as much as possible; join a club, start a hobby, meet new people.
Along the way you will find answers....
The hell is an agnostic atheist?
 

OCP

Expert Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2014
Messages
2,264
#15
The hell is an agnostic atheist?
Agnostic atheism is a philosophical position that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism.
Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.

Unlike Gnostic Atheists who "know" that a deity does not exists.
 

Baise

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2016
Messages
273
#16
Speak to a professional and get some help with the social anxiety you are experiencing.
This is the debilitating part for you.
Social interaction and finding a hobby or interest that you are actively involved in will give you a sense of purpose.
It will grow exponentially from there.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
42,149
#17
Agnostic atheism is a philosophical position that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism.
Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.

Unlike Gnostic Atheists who "know" that a deity does not exists.
So basically

 
Joined
Apr 22, 2010
Messages
3,588
#18
The hell is an agnostic atheist?
"Soft" atheist. Quite a good position to hold.

To the OP: been where you've been, myself.
Am not a fount of any kind of wisdom, but I have found that random meditation and considering the pantheist point of view - that this is all "god" and always has been - has given me moments of great joy.
 

WaxLyrical

Honorary Master
Joined
Oct 20, 2011
Messages
16,291
#19
Be grateful to the people around you because without family, friends, community and society you are nothing.

Help those in need who would genuinely benefit from your contribution.
 

RedViking

Honorary Master
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
11,578
#20
I haven't been on drugs but have had real crap situations and moments in my life, and spending time With ***** does give me peace. I have also seen how it changes other people. The consequences and the results of poor choices doesn't disappear, but the road forward is easier. Personally it makes a difference in my life. It also depends on what some Churches teach. My brother was in a sect (they label themselve as a Christian Church of course) and it destroyed him. I had to almost literally drag him out of there. He could just as well have been on drugs. Only now he is busy picking up the pieces and slowly getting his life back in order. He also realised the God they were preaching is not the one he knows now. There are still things he struggle with being in an abusive relationship for so long, but is going much much better. And he can live again without anxiety attacks. So it also depends who you listen too and what you listen to. Good friends also makes a big difference.
 
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