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?
Featured photo by Gautam Harvey.