SPIRITUALITY IS NOT THE SAME AS RELIGION
Life is difficult and shit happens.
Religion ~ the belief in and worship of a God.
The world’s great religions ~ Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Judaism have several things in common. The belief in a single divine being, a rigid set of rules based on ancient texts, (the Bible, the Koran), a hierarchical structure of priests ‘teaching’ the laity. Mostly, organised religion is based on money and fear. Of all the great religions Buddhism comes closest to spirituality.
The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go. ~ Galileo Galilei
Galileo was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615 for saying that the Earth went around the Sun, which was contrary to scripture and church teaching. He was tried by the Holy Office, found guilty of heresy and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. He died in 1642. He was lucky not to be tortured and then burned at the stake.
Spirituality ~ a process of personal transformation, separate from organised religion, an inner path centered on the deepest values and meanings by which one lives.
For me, spirituality encompasses; love, happiness, compassion, tolerance, responsibility, harmony, serenity, courage, wisdom, humility, honesty, beauty, and respect and concern for others. For me, spirituality means looking deep inside of my soul and trusting that all the good, bad, indifferent, and truly evil parts will come together in balance.
You don’t need a conventional god to develop spirituality, but it helps to believe that there is a ‘power greater than yourself,’ to avoid the trap of believing that the world revolves around you. You will eventually find your own personal ‘higher power,’ be it; the sea, mother earth, the sun, goddesses Lilith, Isis, and or Aphrodite, Toci, Ninmah, Gaia, Mari, the Cosmos…
Personal well-being, both physical and psychological is a vital aspect of spirituality as it is understood by many self-help movements. Exercise, a good diet, plenty of sleep, and an avoidance of excess is a good place to start.
Religion is for people who are scared to go to Hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there. ~ Bonnie Raitt
Winner of 10 Grammy Awards, blues singer-songwriter and slide guitar player Bonnie Lyn Raitt said that her 10th try was ‘my first sober album.’
For me, the search for spirituality is a solitary task done quietly and without self aggrandisment. Perhaps the help of a mentor may be sought. In Alcoholics Anonymous, which these days is a spiritual rather than a religious programme, this mentor is known as a sponsor.
The two keystones of any search for spirituality always turn out to be;
- Recognition and acceptance that I am not the centre of the Universe. My needs and wants are not the most important things on Earth.
- Delayed gratification. A recognition and acceptance that my wants and needs do not have to be met in full this very instant.
Any thought will tell you that those two characteristics are the way an infant lives the first few months of its life. An infant knows it is the centre of the Universe and that its needs should be met right now. Some people never learn how to grow up ~ these include; addicts, the mentally ill, sociopaths, and psychopaths.
Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live. ~ M. Scott Peck.
It is possible to take many things from religion to begin to learn the self-discipline needed for developing our own spirituality ~ it is worth studying the Four Noble Truths.
- Life is difficult and shit happens.
- Craving for immediate pleasure makes more shit happen.
- Learn some self-control and life becomes less difficult as you won’t drop yourself into the shit so often.
- Learn the true meaning of right and wrong, and learn how to always strive to do the right thing.
Understanding spirituality teaches you a better way to live. For some, such as addicts and chronic alcoholics, it is literally a matter of life and death. Your own personal search for spirituality will be a major part of your life, each and every day. There is a brutal rule ~ if you are not improving, then very quickly you will get much, much worse.
For those of us who have seen Hell ~ it isn’t that if you cease believing in spirituality you will go back to just about where you were when you began trusting that you could become a better person. You will instantly sink to how bad it would have been if you had done nothing good at all. It can all get very bad very quickly.
Some of the ways in which you may develop your own form of Spirituality will appear in the following posts.