Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spirituality vs. Religion

I was raised in a traditional, monotheistic religion and attended parochial schools. Throughout my indoctrination into the precepts of the church, it was strongly claimed that there existed only ‘One True Religion’ and that it was the one I was being taught. When I was younger I accepted all of the claims without much question as my parents espoused the same doctrine. However, as I gained life experience, met many truly good people who followed other spiritual paths, traveled throughout the world, and lived for a while in other countries, my perceptions shifted.

This raised the question of how there could be only one true religion? If this were so, I wondered, would not the false religions slowly die off and the true on be practiced by the majority of the world’s population? Then an explanation dawned on me.

When a political hierarchy is imposed upon spirituality the combination becomes religion with spirit submitting to temporal authority. And religion, by its very nature, must claim truth in its tenets. If not, then none would become its adherents and surrender their personal sovereignty  to the agency of the church.

That explication opened vistas to me and broke through some difficulties I was having in sharing the cultures and spirituality within my books. The spiritual concepts of the stories seemed so foreign to those raised within our culture.

So, what does this mean? It shows that religion is neither true or false, good or evil. That religion is a political tool. That its application provides positive or negative results for both its followers and nonbelievers. It is my observation that for most people, joining a religious organization necessitates the denigration of their personal spirituality and the submission of their will and power for the greater good of the entity.

The persons who are most empowered in this world are those who refuse to submit their spirits to the will of others. They either remain completely independent of the politico-social organizations identified as organized religions, become powerful within a religion by using the energy of its adherents while remaining unfettered by its limitations, or create their own spiritual path by selecting elements that resonate on a personal level from among the various faiths they come into contact with.

Being empowered means not living as a sheep, servant or slave to any doctrine or individual. It also requires taking personal responsibility, which is something religions do not want as it denies them the ability to use that person as a battery.

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