... but here's my tuppenceworth anyway ...
> The context being that some say they are "spiritual but not religious" ...
I've used that phrase several times so the following is just my view on it.
> ... while it's often claimed nonbelievers necessarily deny any
> "spiritual" aspect.
AFAIR, I've not claimed that but, whilst I wouldn't expect them to use that
word, I also wouldn't be surprised if there is a similar "feeling" that they
ascribe to a different cause.
I partially agree with some of the posters upthread:
e.g., OHdem10 in #2
>> For many spiritual means an acceptance of a Deity along with individual
>> practice, prayer or meditation while avoiding formal religion (churches etc.)
I always associate the words "religious" and "religion" with the formal
and/or doctrinal organisations - whether extreme or moderate - and so don't
use the word to describe myself (as I am not a member of any such).
I would also differ in that "spiritual" (to me) doesn't necessarily imply
a Deity (although that may be the case for many individuals); I refer to
myself as a form of "Deist" or "Theist" in addition to "spiritual" as I see
the words as addressing different aspects of the situation.
e.g., digonswine in #3
>> It seems like that term does suggest stepping outside of what is
>> concrete reality- perhaps a connectedness to all things or all of
>> the universe(whatever that means).
I will sometimes use the word with regard to "otherness", not just the
"connectedness to all things" view but the wider application of "something
that doesn't currently map to my understanding of the world". (I'll leave
the debate over "concrete reality" for another time!)
So, to come back to your original suggestions/questions (again, all IMHO),
> A nice feeling caused by pondering the universe
Sometimes ... the pleasure of "wonder" at the different phenomena in the
universe (and the feelings engendered) comes into it - but isn't "all of it".
> or listening to Bach
Not necessarily (though it's nice in its own right, I differentiate between
such "niceness" and any feeling of "spirituality").
> or even just relaxing?
Not particularly (again it's nice in its own right)
> Some metaphysical but contingent link to a larger transcendant consciousness?
That's a large part of it for me (i.e., an awareness of a link to a larger
transcendant consciousness but without any great analysis of the nature of
the link). I feel that link but have no knowledge of why or how I do so ...
or even what either the "link" or the "consciousness" actually are. I read
a lot but (so far) still end up putting the experiences/feelings/thoughts of
the subject into a box labelled simply with a question mark or some other
equivalent of "For Further Review".
> How do we know when we are encountering the spiritual
> how do we tell the difference between the above feelings?
> Is there a difference?
And now we come back to subjectivity again (not to mention my lack of an
appropriate way to explain my feelings/reactions).
> Endorphins? Blood pressure and oxygenation? Synapses?
> Is there a physiological component at all and in which direction does
> the causal link go if at all?
There often seems to be a physiological component that seems to start
with a perception of some form and which results in a physiological
response (cf brain-scans of meditators, heart/breath rate linked to
the alpha state, electrical activity levels within the body) but whether
that is in fact the result (rather than the cause) or if it is even
the whole of the experience (rather than just the easily measurable parts)
is a huge question that can only get a big "I don't know" from me.