David N. Snyder wrote:
Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an "individual relationship" to some concept of "higher power", energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.
Sometimes yes, sometimes even the opposite. Especial if people are kind of traumaticed through religion the opposite of religion as a simply "political" opposition is very common.
Bhikkhu Thanissaros essay Faith In Awakening
might explain some things:
So there's a tension in the Buddha's recommendations about faith and empiricism. I've discussed this point with many Asian Buddhists, and few of them find the tension uncomfortable. But Western Buddhists, raised in a culture where religion and faith have long been at war with science and empiricism, find the tension very disconcerting. In discussing the issue with them over the past several years, I've noticed that they often try to resolve it in the same ways that, historically, the tension between Christian faith and scientific empiricism has been resolved in our own culture. Three general positions stand out, not only because they are the most common but also because they are so clearly Western. Consciously or not, they attempt to understand the Buddha's position on faith and empiricism in a way that can be easily mapped onto the modern Western battle lines between religion and science.
The first interpretation has its roots in the side of Western culture that totally rejects the legitimacy of faith. In this view, the Buddha was an embodiment of the Victorian ideal of the heroic agnostic, one who eschewed the childish consolations of faith and instead advocated a purely scientific method for training and strengthening one's own mind. Because his method focused entirely on the present moment, questions of past and future were totally irrelevant to his message. Thus any references to faith in such issues as past karma, future rebirth, or an unconditioned happiness separate from the immediate input of the senses are later interpolations in the texts, which Buddhist agnostics, following the Buddha's example, should do their best to reject.
The second interpretation has roots in the side of Western culture that has rejected either the specifics of Christian faith or the authority of any organized religion, but has appreciated the emotion of faith as an essential requirement for mental health. This view presents the Buddha as a Romantic hero who appreciated the subjective value of faith in establishing a sense of wholeness within and interconnectedness without. Tolerant and opposed to dogmatism, he saw the psychological fact of a living faith as more important than its object. In other words, it doesn't matter where faith is directed, as long as it's deeply felt and personally nourishing. Faith in the Buddha's Awakening means simply believing that he found what worked for himself. This carries no implications for what will work for you. If you find the teaching on karma and rebirth comforting, fine: Believe it. If not, don't. If you want to include an all-powerful God or a Goddess in your worldview, the Buddha wouldn't object. What's important is that you relate to your faith in a way that's emotionally healing, nourishing, and empowering.
Because this second interpretation tends to be all-embracing, it sometimes leads to a third one that encompasses the first two. This interpretation presents the Buddha as trapped in his historical situation. Much like us, he was faced with the issue of finding a meaningful life in light of the worldview of his day. His views on karma and rebirth were simply assumptions picked up from the crude science of ancient India, while his path of practice was an attempt to negotiate a satisfying life within those assumptions. If he were alive today, he would try to reconcile his values with the discoveries of modern science, in the same way that some Westerners have done with their faith in monotheism.
The underlying assumption of this position is that science is concerned with facts, religion with values. Science provides the hard data to which religion should provide meaning. Thus each Buddhist would be performing the work of a Buddha by accepting the hard facts that have been scientifically proven for our generation and then searching the Buddhist tradition — as well as other traditions, where appropriate — for myths and values to give meaning to those facts, and in the process forging a new Buddhism for our times.
Of cause the faith in awakening and the faith in religion are two things but for the most not discriminateable at the first step.
David N. Snyder wrote:
The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.
Her I found Ajahn Chahs explaining very useful:
The Way to the Monastery (see also The Spiral of Virtue, Concentration and Wisdom
Virtue, concentration, and discernment: These three things the Buddha called a path. The path isn't the religion, and it's not what the Buddha really wanted, but they're the way we get there.
It's the same as your coming from Bangkok to Wat Nong Pah Pong. You didn't want the road coming here. You wanted to reach the monastery instead. But the road was needed for you to get here. The road coming here isn't the monastery. It's just the road to the monastery. You have to follow the road to get to the monastery.
Virtue, concentration, and discernment are the road to peace, which is what we really want.
David N. Snyder wrote:
At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position.
Sometimes yes, sometimes not. There is the case where there is still doubt and so the religion is not addoptable. And there is the case where there is no actually body of this religion avaliable, so one would maybe not join to fakes.
But I am generally not amoung the opinion that Buddha had founded something that is broadly understood as religion (a oppositions/group for each and everyone). And exactly this:
David N. Snyder wrote:On the other hand, the smorgasbord might allow some to discover the Dhamma or at least be more tolerant and peaceful to the rest of the world.
is what I thinks, that it was not intended by the Buddha. So no animal business, adverticing under a smorgasbord at least but also a clear line of what is Sangha and refuge to the doctrine. Who ever comes is welcome and no other expetions behind. Smorgasbord amoung a defined road will cause a delta but not a solide land. A delta, even it is a beloved place to gain benefit, is the first which is lost when the waterlevel increases. The delta is only peaceful as long there is benefit to be gained. So its better to stay on a maybe lonly rock where the work seems to be much harder.