The traditional Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which share the Old Testament) offer followers a wealth of spiritual value. Yet today, many people are exploring alternatives. Seekers want to find something with more personal meaning or practice less steeped in rules and dogma.
Once you look, you discover there are many non-religious forms of spirituality available around the world.
Six spiritual paths that enrich people’s lives, without traditional Abrahamic religion
The Shinto path is deeply rooted in the sacredness of nature. It has come from the rich culture and traditions of the Japanese people. Their gods, called kami, represent the aspects of the natural world, like the elements of wind, water, and stone. They are also the rivers, mountains, and the sun.
When people die, they become ancestral kami and are revered by their families. Some historical figures have shrines, and the most important God is the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.
There are no sacred scriptures, and there is no founder. Instead, this is the religion of the land and folklore handed down for eons. Both men and women can be Shinto priests who can marry, have children, and often live at shrine sites.
A strong connection between the living and the dead is maintained and continues to be an integral part of daily Japanese life. Festivals and the celebration of the sacred within the ordinary create opportunities to come together and connect spiritually.
One of the newest monotheistic religions, the Baha’i faith is thought of as a continuation of the ascended master messengers, including Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, and Mohammad. Founded by Baha’u’llah, a prophet who lived in the 1800s in Persia (now Iran), the teachings empathize with the spiritual evolution of humanity and the creation of a united global society.
The main premise is one of inclusivity. Humankind is considered as a single race. They believe the time has come to unify the earth as one global society. Essential to this faith is the elimination of prejudice, equality between the genders, and education for all.
Followers desire to create and maintain harmony between science and religion, which certainly abolishes any polarity of beliefs and the potential for discord.
The Baha’i have a strong commitment to justice, improving society, and living with high moral conduct standards. Today there are about 6 million members of the Baha’i faith around the world with roots in every cultural, racial, social, and religious background.
The core belief of the Religious Society of Friends, known as the Quakers, is everyone possesses a direct connection to the Divine with an “Inner Light”. Worship is conducted silently as the congregation shares the quiet space. When someone feels inclined, they may spontaneously share a message or prayer during this communal time.
The faith began back in England during the 1600s, founded by George Fox, who strongly believed everyone deserved a personal experience with God. The idea is God’s guidance comes from within each person.
Interestingly, the term Quaker comes from the actual shaking or quaking that transpired as people were spiritually moved to speak during the early days of worship.
Quaker values include simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality, which guide daily life. They seek social justice and aim to make decisions based on communal consensus. Quakers were behind the US abolition of slavery, in favor of women’s rights, and continue to promote ideas of simplicity and inclusivity today.
Based on ancient pagan religions, Wicca evolved in the 1940s in England. This new faith became public in the 1950s as a result of Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant, who came to the US in the 1960s. Today, Wicca is part of a contemporary pagan movement that includes other pre-Christian religions and cultures like Druids and others.
Following the cycles of the moon, followers revere nature and honor both the God and Goddess. They celebrate the Wheel of the Year with eight seasonal festivals based on agricultural milestones.
There is no central authority, and the faith’s inclusive concept has contributed to its remarkable rise and popularity. A sense of spirituality comes from honoring and connecting with nature and can be celebrated in groups called Covens or on a solo basis.
There is also a strong emphasis on personal empowerment, and the practices blend the magical with the sacred. For those who think traditional religions hold barriers to directly experiencing God, you can see the great appeal here in this new spiritual path.
Originally from China and the school of Mayahana Buddhism, Zen was also embraced in Japan, where the faith flourished. In Zen, the emphasis is on a direct spiritual experience and intuitive insights to achieve enlightenment.
The core of Zen is the practice of meditation, and that’s what the word Zen means. They encourage time spent sitting on a cushion or using a kneeling bench. The intention is to quiet the mind, be present, and better understand one’s true nature.
Wisdom is handed down from teacher to student with the use of ‘koans,’ which are paradoxical questions. There are no traditional scriptures often relied upon in religion. Zen doesn’t ask you to believe in anything.
Through meditation, you can resolve big existential questions such as “Who am I?” and “What is Life”. From a Zen perspective, the miracles of life are in the most mundane and everyday activities. An old Zen proverb states, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
There are three main rewards to meditation, including:
- learning to hold the mind still,
- seeing the true nature of being as all one, and
- integrating both of these into everyday life.
5. Celtic Shamanism
Similar to Wicca, Celtic Shamanism is a contemporary spiritual practice based on ancient traditions of the Celtic people who were mostly from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. Like Wicca and Shinto, there is a reverence for nature, cycles of the year, and a belief that all things are connected. Followers seek harmony and balance between the spirit world and nature.
The Celts have a long lineage rich in mythology, folklore, and ancient practices. Rituals and meditations are created to help people connect with nature and animals, knowing everything has consciousness. In addition, followers enjoy inner journeys to communicate with ancestors in the spiritual realm. The unseen world offers wisdom and healing.
Overall, Celtic Shamanism is a spiritual path that honors the ancient worldview, helping contemporary practitioners who seek a deep connection with nature and spiritual forces that shape existence on the earthly plane.
Which Path Appeals to You?
Having read briefly about six non-religious spiritual paths, which ones appeal to you? Several of these faiths have a few fundamental ideas in common, which include holding nature sacred and honoring their ancestors.
If you are seeking a change in your spiritual expression, these alternative options offer you a respite from religion. Be bold and choose a non-religious practice to explore and see how you might enjoy a spiritual path that focuses on unity among people, or honors all of God’s creations.
Ronnie Ann Ryan is an Intuitive Coach, Past Life Reader, and author of six books. She’s the creator of the free audio course How to Ask the Universe for a Sign and Get an Answer Within 24 Hours. She’s been published on ABC, BBC, and NPR.