As I've observed before, for me churchlessness isn't an event but a process. Meaning, it isn't a sudden jump from being religious to being non-religious.
It is a lengthy path with many twists and turns. I keep recognizing shadows of my former religiosity where, at first glance, I thought there was only secular light now.
For example, I still have a tendency to believe in some transcendent truth. Not God. Not divinity. But a power or presence that stands apart from the natural world.
This may sound religious, yet really it isn't.
After all, Platonism and its philosophical offshoots consider that there are "forms" which undergird material reality. Most mathematicians, I've heard, go along with this view. They see mathematical truths as existing in some sort of abstract realm separate from the physical universe.
Somewhat similarly, it's hard for me to shake the notion that, as the X-Files put it, "The Truth is Out There." Not simply everyday truth, scientific truth, approximate truth.
Really Real Truth, Ultimate Truth, Objective Truth.
This belief manifests in various ways, some quite mundane.
I'll be musing about a subject that's been on the mind of me and my wife recently: whether we should move from our non-easy-care house on ten rural acres, now that we're in our mid-60's. I've started to notice that I tend to feel there is a Right Answer to this question.
Not just a good answer, an answer that feels right to us.
Rather, an objectively true best answer, the Answer That Transcends All Other Possible Answers, the answer we should be seeking if we want to optimize our chances for future happiness.
Yet where is there any evidence that a Right Answer like this exists? Everything I know about the world, and about myself, tells me that it doesn't exist. Still, the lure of "The Truth is Out There" in a transcendent sense persists.
I'm attracted to Taoism/Daoism because it provides a coherent philosophical antidote to this. In non-religious Daoism, the natural world is all there is. The goal is to flow with the everchanging waters of life, not to find a peak above them where one can stand above it all.
There's something peacefully reassuring about this Daoist perspective. The best I can do is be aware of what's happening around and within me, responding to external and internal events as I am drawn to do.
In Tai Chi, my instructor calls this sort of thing "sensing skills."
Feeling pushes, pulls, pressures, intentions, movement, stillness, and all that without being thrown off balance much. Spontaneously dancing with life rather than trying to choreograph it.
Here's some quotes from "Daoism Explained" by Hans-Georg Moeller.
Early "Western" prejudices about Daoism have been removed: the Dao is now rarely described in the "Godlike" fashion of an absolute origin or ultimate principle, but rather as the smooth way of nature, as the ongoing process of fertility and production, of living and dying.
...Still, I believe, the process of unearthing Daoist philosophy out of the metaphysical ballast from which it had been covered by earlier "Westernizations" (not only by Western interpreters) is not yet complete.
It is, for instance, still often held that the Dao is some profound idea that is almost beyond comprehension, or that it is something so mystical that it renders all language futile. But if the Dao is not a transcendent principle, if it is not beyond, but rather natural and simple and this-worldly -- why should it be such a complicated idea, why should it be an idea at all?
...The "observation" of nature is thus not the observation of something external -- it is the observation of the ongoing scenario of which the observer is a part. This observation does not lead -- as in modern science -- to the establishment of static rules or laws, but rather to the self-positioning of the observer within the dynamic scenario.
It resembles the observation of a dance in order to participate in it -- not in order to note down an analysis of its steps.