Today is a good day to better clarify “I am spiritual not religious” verses “I am religious.” All this back and forth about one being more enlightened than the other has no bearing on actual reality. And personally, I am finding it tiresome.
It may be that I exist in circles where this discussion has become bogged down in tedious repetition, while the rest of the world is completely untouched. So pardon me if this isn’t an issue where you are presently.
But for those like myself who have had it up to infinity with the bickering, this is what I want to say.
Has anyone thought why are we debating spirituality verses being religious in the first place?
In my own observation this distinction on one view verses another is a direct result of the fact religious people–or those claiming to be religious–often do horrible things. History is full of atrocities done in the name of religion.
Does that make religion bad?
No. It does not.
Does it make all religious people bad?
No. It does not.
It merely points out that anything, especially religion, can be used as a means to control, exploit, repress or enslave a population. And since religion is supposed to be a sacred space to find God and the divine truth, it makes a very powerful platform to manipulate the masses to whatever end is desired. Of course, if we stop to think about it, we all have an understanding of how this has happened and how it continues to happen.
When people–any people, culture or individual–surrender over all responsibility to make appropriate ethical choices on a personal level to a larger organization, the result will be disastrous.
If it isn’t compassionate, it isn’t from God.
If it isn’t compassionate, it isn’t divine truth.
If it isn’t compassionate, it isn’t wisdom.
Sheep. That is the popular term for those who don’t like to think for themselves. But sheep aren’t necessary exclusively religious. Non-thinking people are everywhere. Everyone has his or her own special nasty shroud of ignorance to work though. Life can obviously be confusing.
When evaluating the spiritual side, without religion what do we get? We get billions and billions of people with billions and billions of ideas on what spirituality means to them. The same goes for those who are religious. No two people think the exact same thing about anything. It would be impossible for it to be so.
We all have our subtle individual perspective of what words and spiritual concepts actually mean. Our view of reality is directly colored, distorted or radically personalized by the circumstances of our own life and existence as we “think” it is.
So this whole persecution or promotion of spiritual verses religious is quite inane. To be frank, it’s just stupid.
If we wanted it to be so, there could be amazing dialogs and positive discussions in the exploration of this fascinating subject. But so far, all I’ve seen is petty arguing, all for the sake of nothing.
So in the name of my own decompression, as well as positive intent, I now feel the need to clarify in the hopes of ending needless battles.
I am may be over-optimist with that hope, but hey.
A religious person can obviously be spiritual, since that’s the point of religion. It’s only when a religious person knows absolutely nothing about the tradition they claim to practice that they might not be having spiritual experience. And no one would know how religion has affected or transformed a person better than the person herself who is being affected or transformed. No outside source has the ability or right to judge another’s inner most experience; and that is true whether one is religious or not.
And on the other hand, if a person says they are spiritual and does nothing to grow as a person and put into practice the inherent inner qualities of divine awakening, then that person is as much a hypocrite for the outward claim of “spirituality” as one who is touting religion without merit.
So why do we keep fighting?
Maybe we fight because we have not gone deep enough into interior divine spaces to access wisdom. Maybe we fight because we are not even close to being consciously aware and don’t really want to change anything about how we go about life.
Maybe we are just a bunch of frustrated people.
Frustration is understandable. However, frustration cannot continue to be a defense for being belligerent, and creating more conflict in an already turbulent world.
We need wise bridge-building compassionate peace keepers.
It doesn’t matter if one calls themselves religious or spiritual, if we want a better world where people do not constantly destroy one another, we must be willing to make an effort to change our negative reactive patterns of thinking. We must make room for one another. And we must learn how to love, respect and honor ourselves by learning to love, respect and honor others.
Religion has profound insightful inspired spiritual teachings to offer. And there are in fact concise religious practices that can transform a darkened view into one of blessed grace.
But religion is also is tainted with human weakness, because humans habitually make mistakes by imposing egotistically self-serving agendas onto everything we touch.
So if one wants to learn and transform spiritually, emotionally & mentally, one has to open the mind and heart and seek truth.
The truth will set us free.
True spirituality demands discernment. True spirituality requires dedication to compassionate living, which is finding more compassionate and non-harmful ways of experiencing life from where we are. And if one is spiritual completely devoid of religion, hats off to you. But to the point, there is literally no possible way to not be influenced in some degree by whatever religion we have been exposed to in life, directly or indirectly. Hopefully, our exposure will have uplifting results. That isn’t always true. But we are also exposed to positive religious concepts through people we meet everyday. Many of civilizations altruist concepts of ethics and positive behavior have grown out of religious precepts.
Buddha began early in life studying the Vedas before he was enlightened. He tried many religious and spiritual techniques before finding the answer to the end of suffering in the four noble truths, and attaining liberation in enlightenment. Jesus of Nazareth was raised Jewish. He was a Rabbi who reformed the religion of his time, reincorporating the immeasurably important core teachings of fearless love, faith and non-judgmental coexistence.
How many peace keepers of this world have not been directly affected in some manner by religion in the positive degree? Martin Luther King was a preacher. Mother Theresa was a Catholic nun. There are great heroes to be found that are not religious, but I would make an educated guess that most of that kind of selfless courageous people have been impacted by being open to truth wherever it is found.
If we look at all great benevolent leaders and spiritual masters of this world, all have been affected by religion in wildly varying degrees. Many have reformed religion rather than accepting the popular dogmatic restrictive ideas. But we are all influenced by religious teachings regardless. Let us simply honor what common sense has been offered from past generations. And may we respect the lives of Holy Men and Women who have given us a glimpse of the divine in human form.
We do need to think for ourselves. If one wants truth, one must actually make an effort to seek it in order to find it.
And we should be mutually encouraged that truth is worth seeking. Our wholeness will be found in truth. And in that process we will have to face our fears.
All the concepts I have learned that have made my spiritual life rich, inspiring and restorative have come from religion. I knew about the idea of God from religious experience as a child. At first I was a very non-religious person. Thankfully, when pushed to the extremes, I didn’t allow my ego to bar the path to greater insights. I learned to pray the hard way. I learned to see my own negative habits and how to change them. I have learned that we are all sacred beings. My spiritual experiences have been cultivated through mostly religious means. I recognized my own brokenness and I have sincerely pushed forward to find answers on how to be restored to wholeness. Anyone can do this if they want to, but again it takes effort–ongoing effort.
I am not restrained by religion. I just appreciate what I find within it. I have trusted in a spiritual path that has utilized teachings and practices which allow my own mind and emotions to inform my decision making. I have to power to make my own choices, as we all do. How I think, speak and act are my responsibility.
And if I pray, that is my choice. If I reach fearlessly into the unknown and cultivate faith, compassion and wisdom, that is my choice.
It is that way for all people whether we accept that responsibility or not.
So call yourself spiritual, religious or whatever. However, whatever label we all may stick upon ourselves, I would suggest we all make an sincere effort to walk the walk and talk the talk, rather than wasting time arguing about trivialities.
Rather than point fingers and wagging heads, as we cluck like hens in disapproval, we should be doing our part to make the world a better place.
It boils down to “do we want a peaceful solution?” And if the answer is something else, we should reevaluate our agendas.
It is time to break our own individual repetitive limitations within our own mind and hearts. Whether imbued in religious devotions or avid freeform intuitive spirituality, we still have to learn to develop interior skills. And it should be a joyful process, because we will need that joy to push through the hardship and pain.
Contemplate existence. Examine why we individually do things the way we do. Our perceptions are not ultimate reality but a façade that flows forth from our own personal delusional ego.
There are answers. There is truth.
A simple place to begin is to just be kind.
Straight up, it is an entitled spoiled “first-world” view to think our whiny bitching, hateful disparagement and emotional tantrums are freedom of speech.
Suck it up and be nice.
Work out tumultuous personal issues with great care within your own space, rather than justifying the spewing out of ugliness on the rest of humanity as your imaginary right.
Spiritual or otherwise, being a hateful jackass is no one’s inherent human right when harm is done onto others. And hateful abusive words do harm.
Again, if it’s not compassionate, it isn’t from God.
“God” is a very small word that denotes something infinitely expansive. May we not ignore or dismiss the significance of our own personal responsibility in creating a better world. It takes all of us.
Go beyond ego.
Go beyond concepts, into pure bliss.