Saturday, September 29, 2007

Religion ≠ Spirituality

Religion and spirituality are not the same. At best, they are complementary; at worst, they are antagonistic to one another.

It's taken me a while to sort this one out; my main confusion was that I'd go to church, listen to the sermon, and the better the sermon was (care for one another, stop doing things that hurt ourselves and each other, etc.), the faster the knives came out after service was over! It made my head spin! Why on earth was this happening?!? Doesn't our religion say that we are supposed to treat one another better than this?

Of course it does. But, being the formula-seeking creatures we are, we want an exact recipe for holiness, purity, and happiness. We forget that what we seek is in our heart when we connect with others, not in empty rituals that are followed mindlessly.

So, we execute our rituals, and express our disdain for anyone who does not see the need for, or understand, our rituals. We consign to unpleasant endings those who have different rituals than our own. We have even murdured for our rituals (we meaning 'the human race', not you personally )!!

After many years of confusion, it occurs to me that maybe the focus is in the wrong place. The religion is to focus our energies and emotions on our spiritual side. The rituals help us to remember our connection to other human beings. It is that focus that brings us closer to being the ideal person that our religion is trying to get us to be. But, sometimes you meet people that have it mixed up. Their focus is on the rituals - the letter, not the spirit, of the law, so to speak.

That focus on the letter of the law, while ignoring its spirit, breeds hypocrisy... if everything looks 'perfect' on the outside, then it doesn't matter about the rottenness going on on the inside. But you can't really hide that kind of thing, not for very long, anyway... and it is repellent. It turns away both the religious and the non-religious alike, and it leads to discouragement, despair, and it can prevent the spiritual enlightenment that the person claims to seek, because on a deep level, the person knows that what they are doing is not real, if that makes any sense.

Some of this stuff makes my head hurt, because to me, it makes no sense for people to behave this way, and yet that's what I see. But then again, it took me years to understand why they voted the strongest people off of the island on Survivor!

©2007 LaVeda H. Mason All Rights Reserved.


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