Understanding Religion and Spirituality
Religion and spirituality can be a bit confusing, especially when people have a wide range of perceptions on where to draw the line between the two. Are they the same thing? Are they so distinct? Is one a carrier of the other? Or what really defines the two? All this are taken differently by different people, but understanding the two is the best one can achieve in life.
Religion eventually comes into direct opposition to spirituality.
Such conflict is inevitable. If you tell people that their “literal word of God” is only a metaphor, their hackles are going to go up. It’s a challenge to their beliefs, which feels like an attack at the very core of their self-image.
Religion insists that there is only one Right and True. Spirituality knows that it’s all Right and True.
So spirituality can encompass religion with no distress, but it rarely happens the other way.
For many people, religion serves as the container for their spirituality. This is the purest use of religion.
For others, religion acts as pseudo-spirituality, relieving them of the responsibility to actually live a spiritual life.
Religion at its worst reinforces ego, self-righteousness, tyranny, prejudice, hatred, etc.
But at its best, it can be the gateway to spiritual enlightenment.
Religion and spirituality may be confusing to define, but both are intertwined in one way or the other. More importantly, religion is perceived to have an in-depth role in spirituality. It can be concluded, therefore, that religion contributes to the development of spirituality in people. This is an aspect worth understanding for any person who is in a spiritual pursuit.
Here comes the issue of role of religion in spiritual development.
To comprehend this issue in a holistic perspective, we have to avoid tow extreme views. An exclusive observance of external religious practices without a corresponding inner spiritual attitude cannot obviously lead to spiritual development. On the other hand an exclusively inwards spirituality which looks down upon all external supports as inferior cannot also be very creative for a large number of people.
Only a few with a special capacity for inward meditation can practice such an exclusively inward spirituality. Moreover it develops an elitist spiritual ego which can be a great obstacle to spiritual progress and also prevent the flowering of a universal love and compassion which is the hallmark of a true spiritual person.
Religion can help in the spiritual development of individuals, if the original spiritual inspiration is rediscovered and lived. In other words, instead of accepting the religion into which one is born as it is in its outer form, if one make a sincere effort to find the inner spiritual core and discipline of the religion and put into practice in one’s life, then religion can be of great help in our spiritual growth.
The other factor which is not fully recognized is that for someone who is inwardly and spiritually advanced the nature of the outer religious beliefs and practices do not matter much in her inner growth. Such people who are inwardly advanced will spontaneously take the right inner spiritual attitude and therefore can progress spiritually through any belief-system or practices.
A spiritual journey is never so easy, and people usually fail to make it through due to the many potholes along the way. This may not be so easy, but there are some mistakes that people who are committing themselves in a spiritual journey need to watch out for since they can deal them a deadly blow and cut short their efforts to achieve their spiritual goal.
Trying to reach the spiritual thru the physical
Most people try to start their spiritual journey, thru physical and souls’ means. No one can reach the space by sitting in a train and expecting it to take you there, even if your desires are sincere. Although the desire is right (in this case to start a spiritual journey) the vehicle or mode is impotent to take you on a spiritual journey.
Trying to awaken a dead Spirit
As a plant pulled out from the ground dies, similarly man disconnected from God ( his source) died spiritually.
We all know the futility and inability of religious rituals, which cannot make even a dead plant or cell alive, the dead spirit of man, cannot be revived by any kind of religious gymnastics. Be it meditation, starving oneself, sanyas, yoga,
Expecting the captives to set you free
A major mistake that most people make is that they underestimate the distance in the journey. From death to life, from darkness to light and from lies to truth, there isn’t any vehicle, medium, map, Guru or efforts, which will succeed in getting us across.
Every Guru and religious leader born on the earth, died here on the earth. If they couldn’t cross from death to life, don’t be foolish to trust them with your life. Neither any medium, which couldn’t take mankind till date, will make you succeed in this journey. The spiritual journey is a spiritual one and so don’t be fooled to refer to guide maps to get you there. Also the distance is too far, to bank of any amount of efforts to get you there.