When I hear someone say, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual,” I immediately translate that in my head to, “I believe in God but I don’t want to follow the rules.”  And I can relate to that because I’m not a rule follower either.  Because, in the name of religion, every bad thing conceivable has been committed, we tend to throw out the whole concept as evil.  It is easy to see religion as a way to keep the masses in line, and surely it has been used for that purpose, but we shouldn’t forget its original intent.

The founders of all the religions were mystics.  They were pioneers exploring uncharted territories and leaving road maps for the rest of us.  But, their followers became very attached to their own roads, boldly claiming that only their road would lead out of the wilderness, while not even bothering to see that the other roads were going to the same place.  It’s pretty funny, but not funny enough to stop the wars, and the hate crimes.  Not funny enough to cut through the self-righteous arrogance of blind allegiance.

So, not wanting to look at their maps, we flounder along on our own, knowing that there is somewhere to get to but refusing to use anyone else’s road.  It’s a sad situation, because the maps are there to make things easier for us.  The teachers are able to give us knowledge that we are not likely to come up with on our own.

Most of us are not Einsteins, so it is not likely that the laws of the universe are going to dawn within us. So what is the answer?  For me, God has given so many paths that it just seems easiest to choose one.  But we have to be careful not to forget that the entire world is our brothers and sisters, fighting for truth from their own vantage point.  Many will choose to find their own way through the wilderness, and that is cool too, but let us own our choices for what they are, rather than blindly cutting each other down.  Let us realize that it is far too easy for all of us to fall into the illusion of righteousness.


What is your view on the relation of religion to spirituality?


Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Manifesto

Featured photo by Gautam Harvey.  


  1. In carrying a mobile ‘phone around with me, I sometimes pause to wonder why I need it. After all, twenty-odd years ago I got by very well without one, and if I really need to find the nearest MacDonalds I could always elicit the help of a passer-by. The call I am making as I walk along could be just as easily done on my home ‘phone. I bought into the whole ethos of instant communication so completely I did not stop to contemplate the enormous cost, or the heightened stress that would result. Life without my mobile ‘phone would be much cheaper, and much simpler.

    When I return home it will be dark – I know that. But there is peace, and rest, and sleep to be found in darkness.


  2. When I think of religions, I think of dogma. I look for the places where the values/teachings of the different religions overlap. That is where I believe I will find the closest thing to truth.

    I appreciate that there are teachers who can guide us along the spiritual path….. and am particularly glad I found Amma…. or did she find me? 🙂


  3. ” in the name of religion, every bad thing conceivable has been committed,”- Why do people think that religion is the magic wand to solve all the world’s problems? The solution to all our problems is in ourselves because we are the same ones who have created all the problems. Most religions see themselves as a guiding light, we are the ones who must learn to practice what we are taught, and unfortunately the truth is, is that we don’t. Hence why the world is in such a mess and the reason is ourselves not God or religion or spirituality.


  4. I don’t altogether accept your opening proposition Sreejit, that people who claim to gravitate towards a ‘spiritual’ aspect to life necessarily believe in some putative God, however conceived. For many, the overarching concept of God is anachronistic and unnecessary. This is not to say they are solipsists, or believe in the power of individuality.

    Many simply have an intuitive sense that consciousness is somehow veiled or partial and that it’s more a question of refocusing or refining than absorbing that consciousness into unity with a divinity. Of course, they may discover that in the process of refining consciousness, their whole conceptions of subjectivity and objectivity are radically revised.

    With gratitude and respect.

    Hariod Brawn.


    1. An excellent point and I was really not taking that view under consideration while writing this article; not purposefully, it just wasn’t part of the idea that I rolled out of bed with. But it is a totally legitimate vantage point that should be a part of the equation/ discussion.


  5. There also is “religious but not currently a member of a church” which is different from “spiritual” and how I might describe myself. I do try to live according to the “rules” of that church. It’s a personal thing to be sure. People can go to church for every service and still live outside the rules.


  6. I am a Quaker, a member of the Religious Society of Friends, in the branch of those who worship in silence waiting on God in un-programmed meetings, who speak to that of God in all people regardless of the name of their faith. While enhanced by group discernment, we are compelled to experience our faith and often do so mystically.
    I find comfort in having a spiritual home, but would give it up in an instant to live in a world of truth and light, one in which religion is not used as an excuse for hate and as a cover for economic advantage. I want to connect with strangers, see the porousness of borders, and live to see some healing in our troubled ecosystem. If world peoples could work together on these things, we would have equality, justice and respect. We would help our neighbors. That would be an environment in which we could each live in what is holy.


  7. I think religion is the path and spirituality is the destination…both are needed..to reach the abstract we need concrete stepping stones…from the symbol of the Cross towards the formless God…Man has to travel this path of religion to evolve into an Enlightened Man like a Buddha or a Christ…miles to go to become a Man…


  8. I love this post. It seems that many faiths/religions/beliefs are about becoming humble, disciplined, “less”… yet so many individuals tend to be almost arrogant that their walk is the only one.

    I love the thought we don’t see the roads that are pointing in the same direction…(“..not even bothering to see that the other roads were going to the same place”). Perhaps it is because we are too busy where we shouldn’t be. Some are so concentrated on becoming righteous that they-we become self-righteous instead. It’s important to know where we stand in our journey and to know we still need improvement. 😉 Thank you for this.


  9. Good piece. “Not religious but spiritual” seems to be the “in” phrase these days. Depending on who says it, it sometimes comes across as a safe cop-out.
    I was brought up catholic, and still am, but I have broken every rule in the book. But in recent years I have had most, if not all, of my religious questions answered.
    I enjoy reading about other religions.


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