You actually have two questions and both are profound questions that modern seekers of truth have to address at some time during the process of becoming an integrated spiritual being. First the notion of a label is connected to the idea of belonging – those who adopt a certain religion or spiritual practice will have the experience of an established community and, therefore, a label for identification, but you can’t seem to really find one practice that works for you.
Your dilemma has been one noted by the ancient poet Kabir who speaks of the “spiritual athlete” -- someone who keeps trying different practices yet cannot find something that fits. Kabir was a weaver of carpets and a great sage that many people would visit due to his deep wisdom and way of speaking the truth through poetry and everyday conversations.
Labels belong to the realm of the ego and when we settle on one practice or religion, we offer up the ego and adopt whatever label is given. The other path – the path of the seeker -- is more difficult because it requires self-discipline, research and study, experimentation, deep contemplation and giving up labels even if that makes you feel uncomfortable. This is not about trying out other religions or dabbling in certain practices. This type of seeking requires commitment and effort on a daily basis. It is sort of like making your bed every day – you just do it faithfully and forgive yourself if it isn’t always perfect.
If you can’t say for certain that you believe or don’t believe, why not call yourself a skeptic? A skeptic, by definition, is, “a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.” To me, that sounds a lot less pretentious as “agnostic,” but still has the same meaning.
When the topic of religion comes up, you could also say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” or, “I don’t subscribe to any mainstream religion.” Leave it at that, and let people think what they want. You’re right, you know: they’re all just labels, and labels are what you make of them.
Don’t be afraid to just float for a while between religions. Some people find that, with enough time, space, and thought, they come upon an answer much more naturally. Others choose not to ever pick a religion, and are happier for not settling.
Religion and spirituality are deeply personal, and shouldn’t have anything to do with other people. If you feel like you’re being pressured to choose one way or another, do your best to deflect those people. They don’t have to live your life, you do, and it’s your choice one way or another.
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