16 Sep 2015

Religion vs Spirituality

Sunset at Sampaloc lake


Yesterday I was asked why people would freely decide to be subjugated to a religion. Not only those who grew up within the confines and teachings of any religion, but in particular those who join a religion later in life.

Personally, I was raised as a Catholic, but have always shied away from the limitations of religion. Firstly, the concept of a god that would decimated entire cities, require human sacrifices, and expected its faithful subjects to give their virgin daughters to satisfy the primordial needs of their guests, appalled me and insulted my sensitivity and sensibility. Additionally the rituals, concepts such as infallibity, and the obtuse belief in predefined and irrational dogmas, were unquestionably unacceptable.

With time, however, I learnt to appreciate that religion gives some comforts. The first is a sense of belonging. The participation in a community that shares values and experiences is a very important aspect in the expectations of the social human being. We are a gregarious animal. Integration is an essential requirement for an emotionally settled person.

Another of religion’s comforts is tradition. Somehow participating in “traditional” activities and practices seems to give people a sense of wholeness.

The final positive, for those who find it so, aspect of religion is “submitting” to a higher power. Since the most primitive societies, humans have been in awe about the beauty and power of our surroundings. Few would argue, although some do, that there is not a greater knowledge and power Creator and Engineer of all that surrounds us.

However, two additional factors need to be taken into consideration. Not many of those who do a similar analysis account for these additional aspects. These are mental acuity, and spiritual development.

Concerning the first one, I do not actually mean "smartness". Many smart people, even scientist, will say that they are religious “because” of their intellect and knowledge.

In mentioning mental acuity, which could also be interpreted as mental elasticity, I in fact refer to the ability to think independently.

Many, many people feel the need to be told what to do, need to be guided through each step that they take in their lives. Even amongst spiritual people, for example, many prefer a guided meditation, to a free meditation, just to make a very simple example, although many more come to mind.

This is not necessarily a sign of dumbness; on the contrary, many smart people like to be guided too. It is more a matter of self-confidence, or lack thereof.

This brings me to the second factor, which is spiritual development. Somehow, it would appear that when reaching a certain level of spiritual awareness, a new level of understanding “clicks” into place, irrespective of intelligence.

Those who have reached a certain level of spiritual awakening will be capable to contact their higher selves, possibly be able to do exercises such astral travel, and to have witnessed the power of the Source in some way or another, even if just as occasional glimpses.

This is what enables a person to gain the confidence to think unreservedly, and it is what frees them from the need to be guided, led, and of belonging to any religion.

At the risk of contradicting some previous posts, I must say that, regrettably, religions are very primitive. However, the problem is not the religion itself. The issue is that the leaders have not achieved the level or spiritual awakening necessary to lead their flocks through their own spiritual journeys. In most cases, it is really a case of the blind leading the blind.

And this is the reason why religions have become a source of hatred, intolerance, and prejudice.

I would like to conclude by stating that religions, with their limited understanding, and obliging beliefs, are a potential first step on the path to spirituality. There comes a time when spiritual awakening unequivocally make us step away from the constraint of religion, enabling us to commune directly with God and doing away with the limited comforts it gives.

However, as we too are on a spiritual journey, we should not condemn those that are lagging behind, but encourage them without judging.

Everybody will eventually reach the necessary spiritual enlightenment to have direct access to the Source and bask in its Love and Glory.

All we need to do is being supportive, sympathetic, understanding, and allow them to make whatever mistake they need to make for their own progression. Very much like a loving parent does with his or her own children.