SPIRITUAL

SPIRITUALITY vs. RELIGION

Are they one and the same?  I would say yes and no.  How’s that for commitment?

They are the same in that they can represent an individuals search for meaning, for direction, for a connection with something, anything higher than ourselves.  The debate on their differences is wide spread, spirited, and at times down right hostile.  Honestly, the only discovery I made in my research thus far is that I have much more to research.  It is very likely that said research will take the balance of my life and may very well never lead to any final “ANSWER”.

“God made so many different kinds of people.  Why would he allow only one way to serve him?”  ~Martin Buber

That process and search is my “religion” or “spirituality” – I don’t really care what you call it or how you define it.  Mine is a religion of continuous learning, continuous improvement, competition with my current self to be my future self, and tolerance for all others and their beliefs.  Tolerance spanning from the most dogmatic of the worlds major religions to the free spirited granola eating hippy throw back from the 60’s.  Provided your beliefs in no way entail harming or forcefully compelling another to think your way – HAVE AT IT!  I truly believe in many ways they are all “CORRECT” with different paths to the same goal – a purposeful life.

“All religions must be tolerated… for… every man must get to heaven his own way.”  ~Frederick the Great

Is it acceptable for you to communicate or even preach your beliefs.  ABSOLUTELY!  Preach it from the mountain tops my brother or sister.  There may be some one lost, hurting, or needing direction that you can help.  You may have the right path for that someone.  But do so in a compassionate way and be conscious of when you may be going too far or too long.  When I first launched this blog I received a call from a family member that said something to the extent of “What you have built is really amazing, you have almost made your own religion.”  Well, that is not my intention in any way.  I am just sharing my own journey and hope to help and learn from others along the way.  There are no rules, right way, and certainly no expectations.  She then proceeded to share her faith in Christianity and how it had helped improve her life.  Her sincerity and caring was evident in every word.  She was truly concerned for my well being and future.  She didnt push too hard or far and in the end left the next steps up to me.  PERFECT!  That is how it should be done.  I could trust her sincerity and take her words to heart.  That isn’t always the case when someone shares their beliefs. (If you are reading this, thank you for your care and concern.  I do appreciate it.)

“I believe in God; I just don’t trust anyone who works for him.”  ~Author unknown

Back in my Army days and immediately following I would meditate almost daily.  The mental clarity and happiness that meditation brought me is sorely missed.  Civilian life, family, job, house, etc somehow stopped that from happening.  Its time to bring that back into my life along with a more focused journey to read and learn about the many paths being followed to a purposeful life.

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” ~Dalai Lama

So here are my goals for the Spiritual point of focus.  I will update my progress here.  As I drafted this post I realized that this point of focus was actually closer to convergence than I orginally thought.  Just by having an open mind and heart this point is actually at the first ring of the target.

What are you thoughts?  Do you define religion differently from spirituality?  Is your mind and heart open?

6 thoughts on “SPIRITUAL

  1. Oooooohhhhhh… this is a great topic and one we speak of often on my podcast (http://beaboutitradio.com/). I don’t believe religion and spirituality are the same; although their are underlying elements. I grew up in a very religious environment (christian school, church 2 – 3 times a week, etc) and found that while most of the people I grew up with were religious, they weren’t necessarily spiritual. It’s as if people were following a rulebook (or dogma) rather than truly connecting to the divine that is in all of us. I believe that’s what spirituality is: connecting to the Universe/God/All That Is or whatever else you want to call it. It’s not just for some people who believe a certain story, it’s in everyone and everything. In fact, it’s an extension of who we really are. We are part of this vast and mysterious Universe and understanding that is extremely empowering. However, I find religion can be, at times, extremely dis-empowering because it separates us from who we really are: divine.

    Of course, all of this could be wrong 😉

    1. Thanks Paul. You hit the nail on the head with “Of course, all of this could be wrong”. At least from my perspective that thought is key. Having the humility to say this what I believe, this is the path I follow, this is how I work to be better than myself but…..I could be wrong. That is why I respect and tolerate the thoughts of others and I am willing to listen to their thoughts.

  2. Well Mike, I’m going to try to keep this short. I read this last week and cried because I do care so much for my family and friends. My relationship with Christ has changed me from the inside out. My heart aches for all of my family to have an encounter with God, but I can’t make that happen even though I’ve tried at times and pushed too hard. Thank you for giving me permission to preach!!! Here’s my short version of my testimony. I was raised Catholic and had a little head knowledge about God, but it was superficial. I’m grateful for that beginning, but I wasn’t saved until I was 30. I abused drugs, alcohol, and people all through my 20’s. It took great pain in my life to get me to a point where I would truly cry out to God from my heart and surrender my life to him. I felt the Holy Spirit in my living room so strong and just sobbed in His presence. I repented for the way I was living my life and I never went back. The bible makes sense to me now. Scales fell off my eyes and I could see clearly now with my spiritual eyes. There is so much to learn and I will never be done. The quote from Frederick the Great is partly true, but none of us gets to heaven on our own. We must have a Savior because none of us are good enough!!! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”John 3:16-17(NKJ) I encourage you to believe in the Son of the Living God…Jesus. I am here to testify that Jesus is alive and he died for you and for Paul. Please believe it. I’m telling you the truth because I really do care.

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation Michelle. I sure hope I didn’t cause those tears at least not tears of pain or hurt. I really do appreciate your sincerity and caring. I also truly believe you shared your faith in a very unintrusive, humble, and caring way which frankly is not how I have experienced it from many others of your faith. It is normally more of an elitist presentation with tones of “I am better than you and trying to educate your simple mind.” Or even worse are the blatant hypocrits that dont walk the talk. To be fair those tones and hypocrisy come from every faith or path all with a desire to compel instead of share or teach. Continue your teaching, continue sharing the joy your faith has brought you, always remain humble with a purpose of “compassion vs. cumpulsion” and I know you will directly help many in their journey. I can’t say I am there just yet but I always welcome your thoughts.

      1. Oh Mike, my tears are coming from a thankful heart because you felt the sincerity of what I was trying clumsily to share. There is always a chance that I could push too hard because of the passion I have for Jesus and I never intend to push. The fact that you aren’t hostile towards Christianity even though you’ve had a bad experience and that you are willing to listen to the thoughts of others makes me so excited for you. You are on a journey to convergence and I can’t wait to see what you discover, especially in the spiritual area! I hope and pray with all of my heart that at the end of your journey, you meet Jesus. You have so many strengths and I know I could learn a lot from you. I’ve been meaning to comment on some of your other posts, but haven’t done it yet. I will.

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