Religion v. Spirituality

I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another-an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit-such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of things I never like to talk about and try NOT to talk about are disliked family members, politics, money and religion.

But, I ran across the above quote and had to tackle it. This quote sums up exactly how I feel about what might be defined as “religion”.

I was brought up in the Church of Christ but, while discovering myself in college, I realized that I didn’t really agree with the tenants of the Church. It wasn’t that I believed the opposite or to the other extreme; rather, I believed that religion, as it has come to be, isn’t as I think God intended, if I might be so bold as to make that presumption. For me, and from what I’ve seen, there is far too much judgement in churche congregations. Most (not all) of the people I know who go to church, go to see what everyone else is wearing and to gossi about who has done what outside of church.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped calling myself religious and started calling myself spiritual. I definitely believe in God but I believe that those who believe in Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, Jah, Krishna, Waheguru, etc. are right too. No mortal is able or entitled to say that one is more or less right than another.

My spiritual beliefs are varied and based on several things that I won’t go into here. This isn’t a religious blog. But, I believe that religion, as it is, is fatally flawed. Spirituality, however, is more of a personal thing with much respect for those who believe differently. Spirituality, to me, is not judgemental.

I, as a spiritual person, believe in God, I believe that He / She is infinitely kind and forgiving and wants us to do good for others and be good to others and to be good to ourselves. I believe that He / She wants us to believe in something beyond ourselves, to step out and have faith in something that we can’t see or touch. I believe that He / She loves us, has a pretty good sense of humor and wants to see us thrive, do good and be good. I believe that He / She expects all of us to realize that we are all in this together, to respect all life, to treat animals with as much care as He / She put into creating them and to take care of and have the utmost respect for this wonderful planet that He / She created for us.

This quote by The Dalai Lama perfectly sums up how I feel. Like I said, “religion” isn’t something I normally choose to talk about but this quotation hit too close to my heart to NOT share.

I hope that some of you got something from it too, and, perhaps, from my ramblings.

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22 thoughts on “Religion v. Spirituality

  1. I like this post. I really don’t like getting into too many religious discussions, either, because I feel like people get too confrontational, and I am by nature a nonconfrontational person. However, I like what you have to say, and we seem to share a lot of the same views.

  2. Well, it seems like I’m always talking about disliked family members!

    I have no idea where I stand on anything since my dad got so sick and passed away. I used to have such faith and now, I’m just not sure at all.

    there are times that I think it will come back, times that I think I won’t ever believe anything again.

    There may be a tiny flicker left because I do feel better at times when I know that I’m being prayed for.

    What a post!

  3. Yeah, that pretty much sums up how I see things as well. I grew up in a christian family and moved away from it when I was 16 as I saw too many people not living the way that the bible teaches and the hypocrisy drove me crazy. This topic came up for me recently in a discussion with my husband when we were travelling. I would not put myself in any religious category (in fact I make a point of not doing so), but would definitely consider myself spiritual.

    You have very eloquently put into words something that I believe but have not been able to do myself.

    Thanks

  4. Great post, kindly worded, too. Isn’t it unfortunate that we can’t discuss religion and/or spirituality. How wonderful if we could share the knowledge we’ve gained over the years.

    Anyway, I enjoyed your description of a benevolent He/She God who guides us ever so gently. Thank you for making me feel at home.

  5. It is a difficult topic to tackle I agree. Thank you for sharing.

    I do not follow a religion. Unfortunately religions have “added” their own rules, regulations and beliefs which are not of the Bible. Religion is flawed, I agree.I am a Christian. I follow Jesus Christ. I do believe my salvation is in Him, and Him alone. I also believe in heaven and hell.

    Religion aside, the teachings of the Bible are not meta-physical nor philosophical. Love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness are all teachings of Jesus. I find all of these through Him. Practicing these leads to contentment, a sense of responsibility and a sense of harmony in knowing that through Him all things are possible.

    I believe it is correct to say that what many “churches” teach and practice today is not what God has instructed us to do. Why? Because they have adopted their own beliefs to fit their own agenda. It saddens me that people lose faith and give up God, quitting Him because of hypocrisy and the sinful nature of man. This is why it’s so critical to have a personal relationship with Christ and not follow a religion. God will never let hold of you and He never quits on us. The choice is ours. He gives us free will. He created each one of us to worship Him, and Him alone. I can’t understand why so many still choose to follow someone or something else.

    Buddha, Krishna, Jah, Waheguru, etc did not go to the cross for your sins. It’s not about being judgmental, critical or lacking in tolerance toward others. It’s about sharing the truth, God’s Word and His promise to us. People are so quick to become defensive when they here this. Many say, “How can you say there is only one way?” It’s the truth. “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 (I would encourage anyone to read all of John 14) These are not my words nor my teachings. This is what God clearly teaches us. I believe every word of the Bible is God breathed. I respect and love others who choose to believe differently but I will not, and cannot tell people that there are “many paths” to heaven. I will share Jesus with others and the promise of our salvation through Him. It’s not about me forcing my beliefs or my will on others; I would not do that nor do I want to. Many will continue to believe there is no heaven or hell. Many will argue the Bible is not true. These are all choices we make.

    God is kind, forgiving, loving and does want the very best for us. He always has our best interest at heart. He desires our heart and knows our heart. He does ask us to have faith. Faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

  6. Oh, KB…are you reading my mind? Are you a fly on my wall? lol. I agree with everything you said 100% and could not have put it better. My husband and I stopped going to a church we have been attending for over a year. We…I mean I..I am starting to get questioned by memebers of my husbands family as to why I am not going to church anymore. It seems to be worrying them. But, they have not asked me HOW I am just WHY I’m not going to church. Maybe to them the questions are the same, but not for me.

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  8. Thanks for your thoughts, Cheeky.

    I do not believe that the Bible is the ONLY inspired work as so many people do. I do not believe that there is only one way to heaven. I respect other people’s beliefs and am not one to tell them that just because they think and believe one way, have not been shown the “only” inspired text there is, etc. that they are not going to heaven. To me, saying that there is only one way to heaven is, in and of itself, judgemental.

    We do agree on love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness being very important tenants of spirituality. I, however, believe that these wonderful qualities aren’t ONLY taught through Jesus and the Bible. I also believe that other people have faith in other things and they are not wrong. I do not downplay the wonderful work that the Bible is or the wonderful messages it holds. I simply do not think that everyone has to do the same thing, be the same people, live in a certain marching order to be as they “should” be.

    All people are all different. They have different capacities to think and were born in different places with different backgrounds and different cultures. This is as God intended. I believe that He / She respects and loves diversity just as we should.

  9. KB, I did not know you responded to me in the comments arena as I only read it via email so I thought I would post my response here as well, for all to read
    πŸ™‚

    Karen,

    I get the sense you are put off with what I shared? I hope not.
    Clearly, we believe differently and that’s ok by me. I am also
    respectful of others who choose to believe differently. It is not for
    me to judge others. I do believe God’s Word in it’s entirety and His
    word teaches that Jesus is the only way. I share what I believe. I
    also believe, to do otherwise would be disobedient to God. I am the
    first to say, that in doing so it is not always easy. It can be
    uncomfortable and I accept that. It is a sensitive and very personal
    topic, rightly so. It is my hope to be a kind and loving example for
    others. Being bold for Christ can be misunderstood by others as
    judgmental and I completely understand because it is easy to feel that
    way when you don’t agree with what the other person is saying.

    I agree we were all created as individuals, uniquely different from
    one another and were spread out over all the lands with diverse
    backgrounds and different cultures, as God intended. I don’t argue God
    celebrates this diversity as He created it all. We ALL do have one
    common thread and that is we are ALL God’s children.

    I’ve enjoyed your friendship via this blogosphere and your kind words
    of support and encouragement. I hope we can continue that. Discussion
    is good and I hope you are not offended and that there are no hard
    feelings.

    Sincerely,

    cheeky
    xo

  10. Excellent post! I’m so glad I stopped in (thanks for the comment on the SwapDex by the way). Recently I got into a discussion with my religious mother and I was stating that to assume that your religion is the only true religion and even go so far as to say your God is the only true God is ludicrous and quite un-Christ-like. I am no specific religion and my mother is Christian. She understood where I was coming from about not lumping everyone of a certain religion in together but ended the conversation by saying that she prays for me and everyone else and worries about what they think and how they will find Jesus, the one true path to God. Oh, my! I just remind myself that after years and years, she is set in her ways and I’m just glad she doesn’t stop talking to me, the heathen. If you must make assumption about me, do it based on my actions, not on what book I read or group of people I choose to hang out with in Sunday. I loved reading others’ comments along the same lines! I wish there was a “church” where we could all get together and be like-minded. The UU church is about as close as you can get, I suppose.

  11. How good it is to read someone speak out her mind! Courageous too (these days) πŸ™‚
    I`m 100% with you about what you said. Of course you could go on and on because this topic IS endless; or you could say – we are all ONE and that`s it. This is what I believe – stars, trees, ocean, people – we are all made of same elements – we all are alive and have same purpose on Earth.

    Thank You for this beautiful post! Everything what is made with clear mind and heart is beautiful. To me at least…

  12. Oh, one more thing!
    I call myself as spiritual as well ( for years now ). I have never been religious and I never will be. Religion is invented by people for their purposes – to rule and have order.
    I believe in free will. And religion by principle is not about free will.

    My thoughts here πŸ™‚

  13. KB, I now know that we have been brought together for more than just idol time filling with typing.

    It is so darn refreshing to find others out there feeling something similar to me! I love the Lord. I have been given quite a few opportunities to see His work in action.

    Humans seem to innately need a way to segregate themselves, in my humble opinion. We also think we each have “the” right way to get things done. Religion has been used to push people away as much as bring them together. I feel that your quote is perfect!

    Thank you for the affirmation. Keep up the good work! πŸ˜‰

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  15. Lots of respect and admiration to you KB on your thoughts on diversity and different cultures and acceptance that other people around the world have other Gods and that that’s ok. The basis of ‘religion’ (vague term that it has become) should, in my opinion, be love and compassion and kindness. Where you feel that or come together to remember that, or who you chose to worship, shouldn’t matter. Thanks for this post, and it’s been interesting to read people’s comments.

    x

  16. I agree 200% with you. I’d have so much to say about it, that I’m not going to start anything here. But thank you for this thought provoking and tolerant post. Peace.

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