people describe faith as the absence of critical thinking. Others
would say that faith is simply the belief in things unseen. Religion,
being a structured belief system which is organized to continue,
requires faith. Spirituality on the other hand, does not.
So what is spirituality? And what makes it different from religion? And why are so many people these days describing themselves as “spiritual but not religious”? Is something changing in our collective consciousness, something which causes us to turn away, from our symbols, our traditions and our doctrines and to look inward instead?
The old guard, the pastors, the priests, the rabbis and imams might tell us that without the structure of a doctrine, we cannot reach “god”. Some would argue that simply calling oneself spiritual, without committing to an established religion, is something of a cop out – a way to let the ego decide which parts it likes and to pass on anything that’s too hard.
There may be a hint of truth to this, but it does not negate the self-evident realization that one can look in any direction, and if your intention is sincere you will likely find that which you are looking for – if what you are looking for is a gateway to deeper spiritual understanding.
If “god” is a word we use to describe that which is not only infinite but also transcendent, meaning all of time and space and even beyond – beyond human comprehension – then wouldn’t “god” also include us? Aren’t we all a part of everything else? Is anyone separate? Isn’t it the greatest lie ever told that you are separate from god and must somehow seek redemption?
And why would we believe such a lie unless we were in fact afraid of discovering the truth of what we are? Aren’t the masses begging to be lied to? Doesn’t religion just seek to satisfy a market demand? The lies we tell ourselves are endless along life’s journey – and there exists no shortage of institutions, books and holy men to help the medicine go down. Isn’t it easier to seek out a so-called prophet or a messiah than to ask oneself, “Who am I?”
Can you ask yourself this question and still be a Catholic or Hindu or Buddhist or Presbyterian? Why not? You can ask yourself, “Who am I?” and still be an American or Chinese or male or female or part your hair on the side. If “god” is infinite then all roads must lead to god. And why don’t I capitalize the “g” when I type the word “god”? Because something so great is not only found in the largest cathedral but also in the most insignificant lowercase font. It is found in subatomic particles. It is found in galaxies, universes, multiverses. It’s what’s looking out through your eyes right now. It’s you.
You are the one you’ve been looking for. But that won’t make a bit of sense until you genuinely ask yourself, with a clear mind and a sincere heart, “Who am I?” The avoidance of that question makes the world go round – the world of illusion anyway. But the pursuit of that question causes you to wake up in the world – to be ordinary in it and to transcend it at the same time.
Don’t worry. If any of this seems too complex or too boring or just plain wrong or even blasphemous, it simply does not matter. The question will find you again and again. The “Who am I?” question waits for you around every corner. It sees you coming. It will go along with your story for as long as you need it to. Sooner or later we must all confront this question: “Who am I?”
Religion can help you to deflect the question or it can enable you to invite the question. Religion is neither good nor bad in this instance. Personally, I find my religion to be useful. It’s just one of many tools available in order to bring about a revelation, a realization. It’s an empty vessel, but then so are you. What makes religion full is what makes us full. Spirituality is the soul of religion, when it has a soul. When one inquires so deeply as to realize the Self, this is spirituality.
The spiritual path is the only path and every path is ultimately the spiritual path. It’s the only thing that is happening. Everything else is for entertainment purposes only.
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