Author Topic: Spirituality vs Religion  (Read 4140 times)

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December 24, 2013, 09:10:35 PM
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Noctus

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I once read an anonymous quote: "Religion is for those who do not wish to go to Hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there."
But how does this make sense? My first guess would be that if you are already spiritually clean (baptized and haven't sinned persay) then that would be the religious side of it. Then spirituality would be for one who has done things that have tarnished their soul and they wish to cleanse themselves. Any input from you guys? This is a matter I think about on a daily basis, and I haven't gotten very far with it.
Understanding is a power all on its own...

December 25, 2013, 08:42:33 PM
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EllyEve

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I once read an anonymous quote: "Religion is for those who do not wish to go to Hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there."
But how does this make sense? My first guess would be that if you are already spiritually clean (baptized and haven't sinned persay) then that would be the religious side of it. Then spirituality would be for one who has done things that have tarnished their soul and they wish to cleanse themselves. Any input from you guys? This is a matter I think about on a daily basis, and I haven't gotten very far with it.

Religion, I think is proscriptive. Usually, religion has a hierarchy of clerics that hear you out and then tell you what to do. They can accept this into their lives because, even if they think there's turmoil, it can dealt with, easily, on the word of a cleric and what they remember of the canon text and practice of faith. Religion can be a clean-cut social identity.

Religion has a spiritual aspect. This can be something that informs the clean-cut social identity, if the clerics get corrupt, and then it becomes a matter of faith that might be paranormal but is definitely personal because it's going against the system. Or even somebody who isn't going against the system can be spiritual with a deeper understanding of it, but it's more evident in those who are not religious for reasons that I'll expound upon:

And then spirituality can happen without religion--as if spirituality is what happens when the proscriptive religious word isn't enough, when the social identity and community isn't enough. That's hell. Being able to fit in with the religions-social system is very privileged. They'll still have hardships, but they won't be "in hell" so to speak, because they still have the privilege of fitting in. Spirituality is religion with all the bells and whistles removed.

At least, that's my read of it.

December 25, 2013, 11:03:35 PM
Reply #2

Mind_Bender

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Spirituality is religion with all the bells and whistles removed.

I agree with this. To expand from a personal perspective, religion has set rituals, decrees and beliefs that must be followed for fear of punishment by the Divine (which I think is a completely human concept- if Divinity is All, why would it punish?). It is based on spiritual and 'moral' principles, but only gets one merit or salvation by obedience to its dogma, so in essence, religion is an institution no better than secular governemnt with its own views on morality, purity and evolution, which usually discounts or teaches its followers to hate other paths. Religion is irrational based on human concepts of the Divine, and it being based on human concepts, is rather harmful to any kind of evolution, being secular or spiritual.

Spirituality is based on a search for Truth and Reality and holds no judgments towards others, because its purpose is pure. Solitary or community oriented doesn't make a difference to a spiritual seeker because if they never find a group they are still happy and continue ever forward on their journey, and if they do find a group, all the better because now the seeker has like minds to converse with and test theories. To clarify, Truth and Reality represent Law or the guiding principles of existence, mundane and supernatural, that exist because it is their nature to be such, and not our personalized concepts of metaphysics and mundane physics.

Religion is group based, period. Spirituality can be solitary or community oriented depending on the seeker. Religion has masters and rules where spirituality is based upon shared concepts of Realization where our perceptions may interpret these truths in a personal frame of reference, but the truth is still the truth. Religion is based upon human perceptions of Divine or metaphysical law and change according to the church, group or cult leader. To me, religion is false doctrine, misinterpretation and mistranslation of scripture or based on visions that are meant to be pure but in turn (through misinterpretation and mistranslation) become false and subjugate spiritual seekers. It is the blind leading the blind. Spirituality is more pure, based on personal experience, insigh and existent principles that are eternal and unchanging, whether or not we want to believe it. Basically, religion enables ignorance and spirituality enables truth.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

December 26, 2013, 01:52:36 PM
Reply #3

Noctus

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Interesting. So what could be considered spiritual? Or spiritualistic? I know there is much belief that Native Americans are highly spiritual, as well as a few eastern philosophies such as Buddhism. I want  to be "spiritual" atleast moreso than I am now, but I also want to look at my options on the subject.
Understanding is a power all on its own...

December 26, 2013, 04:15:58 PM
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Mind_Bender

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I would say the principles of religious philosophy are spiritual, such as prayer, service, loving kindness and the like. The principles that are shared throughout religions but not tied specifically to any dogma are what I consider spiritual practices.

As an example of my spiritual path, I believe firmly in several Buddhist precepts such as compassion, illusion of suffering, and the purity and perfection of every soul/mind is inherent just muddled by conditioning. The aforementioned principles fit quite nicely when I pray to the Holy Spirit, as I believe the Holy Spirit represents Buddhist precepts only with the addition of a Higher Power plus the purity of my True Mind or Soul. Being a self-proclaimed pagan, I view the Earth, Sun and Moon as Sacred because they represent three aspects of Life- Abundance/Acceptance (Earth), Power/Responsibility (Sun) and Intuition/Divine Guidance (Moon) and the Sun and Moon represent masculine and feminine energies and principles and the Earth the great balance and perfection of Creation.

I see spirituality as a scientific approach to spiritual development where religion is based on masters and pre-scribed laws. As long as you are gaining positive, life affirming results on your path, whether through structured religion or solitary spirituality, you are on the right path towards Self-Relization and/or Atonement.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

December 26, 2013, 04:23:51 PM
Reply #5

Steve

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My take on what the authour of that phrase probably meant:

Religion is external, given to you by others, though a person may attempt to internalize it. It is a variety of doctrines, dogmas, rituals, practices, traditions that people are told or expected to follow in order to be a member of that religion, and claims about supernatural origins and authority of all of these things.

Spirituality is internal and personal, though groups of people may attempt to share theirs with each other. It is a variety of experiences, ruminations of those experiences, views and beliefs based on those ruminations, and an attempt at learning what the world (and yourself) really is.

~Steve
Mastery does not occur when you've performed a feat once or twice. Instead, it comes after years of training, when you realize that you no longer notice when you're performing a feat which used to require so much effort. Even walking takes years of training for a human: why not everything else?

December 26, 2013, 09:20:12 PM
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EllyEve

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Interesting. So what could be considered spiritual? Or spiritualistic? I know there is much belief that Native Americans are highly spiritual, as well as a few eastern philosophies such as Buddhism. I want  to be "spiritual" atleast moreso than I am now, but I also want to look at my options on the subject.

Any religion can be spiritual. Any spiritual practice can become religious.

I think "Native Americans are highly spiritual" is a rather racist thing. Sure, it's positive racism, because you're attributing traits such as wisdom and magical aptitude to a whole group of people--but that doesn't make a practice less of a religion or more of a spirituality just because it's practiced by an ethnic minority. Because it's practiced by a minority, there's less respect granted to the practice, and I think that's what's reflected in the vocabulary: it can't be a religion, it must be a superstition, or a cult, or (more respectfully, but still marginalizing) spirituality.

Buddhism as a philosophy is also a rather racist thing, I think, because while there is philosophy in that religion--just like there is a philosophy in every religion--the idea that Buddhism isn't a religion because it is instead a philosophy, strikes me as a thing people ignorant of the lineages of Buddhism would say, for purposes of giving themselves the freedom to dabble in something exotic while not going against the grain of the dominant religion of their own culture. Buddhism is a religion too.

An interest in "exotic" faiths and philosophies is fine, but those statements move me to warn you about cultural appropriation.

Aside from that, I'd recommend you find three things: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is your code of conduct: what do you believe is right and wrong? Logos is your worldview: what makes sense to you about the way the world works? Pathos is your personal experience: without thinking or believing, what do you feel is right and true?

Continental America is a big place, and Native American spirituality is not a monolithic thing. Michael Harner's Core Shamanism tried to synthesize it, so maybe start with that and then investigate its roots with individual tribes.

Buddhism is a dominant Eastern religion with, as I said, many lineages. Whether you're interested in Hindu-Buddhism, Shinto-Buddhism, Zen, Tibetan... you could look into the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, the Tipitaka...

There are also more New Age spiritualities like that of Pleiadians, Sirians, Andromedans, and other Starseeds, perhaps even including indigo and crystal children--and I see a lot of echoes of Theosophy in the New Age movement.

My own spirituality right now is a type of Faelatry based on pagan reconstructionism (Irish, Icelandic, and French-Germanic low mythology.) Other types of Faelatry like the Otherfaith or Authiyenfae seem "too personal" as in personal to the creators and won't make much sense to anybody else even another faelatrist, which is fine because I'm the same, I'm not out to lead any cult, this is just for me alone to practice.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 09:23:15 PM by EllyEve »

December 26, 2013, 11:15:49 PM
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Mind_Bender

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Buddhists themselves, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, say that Buddhism is more about its philosophical roots than as a religion. Many Buddhists, such as Thich Nhat Hanh, are also trying to spread the message that Buddhism is about piercing the illusion into True Reality or Realized Understanding, beyond religious indoctrination. The Dalai Lama himself is known for speaking out, not so much against but on the irrationality and outdated practice, of ritual.

I would imagine what Noctus is trying to say about 'Native Americans' as spiritual people is that as an entire culture they revered Mother Earth and the Great Mystery. Even the curse-makers and 'black' witches followed the same line of thought, although 'Shaman' or 'witch-doctor' would be better words to use in place of 'Native American Spirituality.' The Native Americans also spread the idea that they, as a race, are a spiritual people and don't seem to mind the relation of their culture to spiritual practice. I would imagine, these days after mass slaughter, the descendents of the 'white devils' looking to them for spiritual guidance is quite an honor.

I do agree, however, on looking deeply into ethos, logos and pathos to find a good spiritual path.

"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

December 27, 2013, 02:11:40 AM
Reply #8

EllyEve

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Buddhists themselves, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, say that Buddhism is more about its philosophical roots than as a religion. Many Buddhists, such as Thich Nhat Hanh, are also trying to spread the message that Buddhism is about piercing the illusion into True Reality or Realized Understanding, beyond religious indoctrination. The Dalai Lama himself is known for speaking out, not so much against but on the irrationality and outdated practice, of ritual.

I still see that as branding, though. Perhaps it's comparable to how some Christians say "It's not about getting a religion, it's about having a relationship with God." That's a spiritual thing to say, but the social identity that it's wrapped in means that you can't get away from whatever taint the word "religion" has quite that easily.

The Dalai Lama also said that if Buddhism and science ever got into conflict, then Buddhism would have to step down. He admires the scientific philosophy, but there is, I think, still that faith that The Dalai Lama was a reincarnation and will be reincarnated--which is not scientifically proven, even though that hasn't stopped the Chinese government from...outlawing...reincarnation. Huh. Good luck with that. But anyway, that--reincarnation--is a part of the cosmology, the mythology, the practice, the philosophy, the spirituality...of that religion.

Bottom line: culture and politics! Is a thing. Be careful.

Quote
I would imagine what Noctus is trying to say about 'Native Americans' as spiritual people is that as an entire culture they revered Mother Earth and the Great Mystery. Even the curse-makers and 'black' witches followed the same line of thought, although 'Shaman' or 'witch-doctor' would be better words to use in place of 'Native American Spirituality.' The Native Americans also spread the idea that they, as a race, are a spiritual people and don't seem to mind the relation of their culture to spiritual practice. I would imagine, these days after mass slaughter, the descendents of the 'white devils' looking to them for spiritual guidance is quite an honor.

If you or Noctus do enquire at a sweat lodge, and get the reaction of, "Oh, no, not another one of those--" and shutting the door on you... This might happen, I'm just saying, don't be too surprised or hurt. And their refusal, if it does come, should also be honored. There are many, many people who think they're looking for spirituality, but are really only looking for ethnic shiny stuff.

If they are honored by your interest from the get-go, then I really mean it: good for you.

Quote
I do agree, however, on looking deeply into ethos, logos and pathos to find a good spiritual path.

Or making one. :wink:
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 09:11:31 PM by EllyEve »

December 27, 2013, 03:49:24 AM
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Mind_Bender

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Outlawing reincarnation... that's a new one!

Culture and politics... you got me there, but reincarnation is a fairly widespread belief. Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions are the main systems that don't believe in reincarnation (although many biblical scholars claim that the original scriptures did include reincarnation... but that's beside the point). That being said, reincarnation can still be considered a spiritual practice but the cosmology, philosophy and mythology specific to Buddhism, yes, are based upon their specific dogma. Even so, many Buddhists and Hindus understand their mythology as just that, myth, for the followers to understand Divine concepts through an understandable lens unlike the Judeo-Christians and the like that take scripture as literal truth. For the most part, I would consider Buddhism and Yoga as spiritual, not religious, paths, although certain sects are definitely more dogmatic, thus religous, than others.

The local Natives of my town are very accepting of outsiders, but we also have a family friend that is a local shaman, so maybe that has to with my viewpoint. My aunt-by-generational-friendship has been to several sweat lodges on the local Reservation and the shaman is always welcome, and comes, to our family gatherings when my aunt invites him. Shamanism, for me, is an integral part of my belief system that spans beyond time and culture. It's not really even a belief, more just an integral part of who I am because of my upbringing.

Buddhism is very much the same. We have a local Obone festival ever year at our Temple (which I only attend for funerals and the festival) and their teachings are similar to the 'Good Christian' idea of serve others in loving kindness and you will be rewarded a spot in Nirvana with Amida and the other Buddhas. My bias of these as spiritual and not religous paths obviously comes from my upbringing, which was accepting of every religion, thus I was raised very spiritual and not religious (except for the Scientology in my younger years).

The cultural bells and whistles are very important to alot of people. I've witnessed this more than I would like to admit, but for true seekers, and even authorities of their own sects, agree that every path leads to the same place. Our local Daoist Priest has lineage rank in at least three Daoist sects, a Tibetan sect and a Jesuit Red Hat sect, and his conclusion about mysticism is "Love God and play with toys." In other words, yes, Buddhism, Daoism and shamanism are based upon specific teachings and practices but they are all so similar they transcend religious boundaries into  the realm of a shared reality, or Truth, of which many of their respected and high level practitoners clearly and openly speak about.

Remember, at one time Yoga was seen as a religion, and so was Qigong. They each have very specific practices and philosophies but for good reason - if you do not follow the teachers advice on the practice you can severly harm yourself, and if you do not pay attention to the philosophy than you will never glean the deeper meaning of your art. That being said, Buddhism and shamanism are much more spiritual than religious because, although they may have certain dogmas, they are looked passed and treated as guidelines rather than Absolutes.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

December 27, 2013, 12:58:01 PM
Reply #10

Noctus

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Something interesting I found...

"Our potential is something that can flower only when we are no longer caught within the influence and limitations of the known. Beyond the realm of the mind, beyond the limitations of humanity’s conditioned consciousness, lies that which can be called the sacred.

And it is from the sacred that a new and fluid consciousness is born that wipes away the old and brings to life the flowering of a living and undivided expression of being. Such an expression is neither personal nor impersonal, neither spiritual nor worldly, but rather the flow and flowering of existence beyond all notions of self."
Understanding is a power all on its own...

December 27, 2013, 02:32:56 PM
Reply #11

mystic

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Something interesting I found...

"Our potential is something that can flower only when we are no longer caught within the influence and limitations of the known. Beyond the realm of the mind, beyond the limitations of humanity’s conditioned consciousness, lies that which can be called the sacred.

And it is from the sacred that a new and fluid consciousness is born that wipes away the old and brings to life the flowering of a living and undivided expression of being. Such an expression is neither personal nor impersonal, neither spiritual nor worldly, but rather the flow and flowering of existence beyond all notions of self."

Stillness in a nutshell. When all is nothing and one at the same time.

It's rather an ironic discussion of sorts. When westerners consider religion, we consider an indoctrinated set of principles that help shape our moral and ethical basis in life. Especially in modern times does this permeate society at a level that it did once.

In comparison to eastern system, it's rare that a word like religion is used. It just is. And fundamentally, when viewing things from this context does one get an initial observation concerning the reality of religion from an eastern and western perspective.

But why is that important?

Mentally, we create things in our mind for the sake of categorization. We categorize things based on similar and dissimilar aspects of reality. It's something we all do (and I am stating the obvious in that regard). However, it is the categorization based on our observation of reality that determines any line between spirituality and religion.

I will take one of my teacher's approaches to any different and say the following:

1. There is no difference between the two (as many have pointed out)
2. Spirituality doesn't exist (at least as a conceptual alternative to a western religion).

I think spirituality has gone under many different names with the same purpose. A way of defining something that is certainly not adhering closely to the principles of western experiences but attains many of the results found in all belief systems. Previously (or rather prior to the 70s) people that didn't adhere to western religions (with few exceptions) were pagans. Of course that presented quite a negative connotation.

But to move beyond mere prattling of etymology of spirituality from the word pagan, I still feel spirituality doesn't exist in any sense of the word.

When one really thinks of spiritual, we think of something (or rather someone) who is a very loving being. Despite the turns of negativity in society, they maintain lots of positivity and always lend an ear. Someone who helps and so on and on and on.

If that is what a spiritual person makes, I think we have a misnomer. That's not spiritual. That's someone who has a high ethical compass. Which is again touted in all beliefs that we consider religious.

In that regard, what is to say that spirituality exists beyond a positive reference to an individual that doesn't ascribe to the orthodox western religions? In addition, if the "measure" is of results and not path itself, it is doubly a misnomer.

Perhaps to me, spirituality as a word is grossly inadequate to describe principles touted in all religious belief systems and tends to actually enter a gray area in a scholastic discussion relating both words.

My personal belief is that:

What is the difference between someone spiritual and someone with a highly ethical compass? Many will say well they may be spiritual, but then what defines that? A person's ethic and moral compass!

If these are the measures of spirituality, then why is spirituality a word in the first place?