Spirituality or Religion
After a few months of pondering myself about the difference between these two nouns and their significance for our general well being, I believe to have come to a rather discerned conclusion.
First let's start with the meaning of these general terms, the dictionary defines "spirituality" as: of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; not concerned with material values or pursuits; of or relating to religion or religious belief
It defines "religion" as : the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion; • a particular system of faith and worship: the world's great religions.
As we can tell, spirituality and religion do have some similarities and might be easily confused and thought to be inter-dependent, but in my opinion they are completely independent of each other. While spirituality directs towards a connection with some surreal, something untangible, extraordinary, cosmic, chi - it's mostly attainable within oneself. Some people achieve this through their religion, through yoga, meditation, prayer or quiet reflection.
Religion on the other hand always goes a step further, beyond one's capabilities, beyond our own reach to something promised and some kind of future reward. There is a subtle sometimes even forced surrender in regard to religion that has led many men and women astray. A declination of self for something greater. Not to say that being religious necessarily demands this from a person regardless of which religion we choose, but the connection to something higher should be more of a completion than a reduction of oneself.
Mankind has always and will always look for and try to find meaning in everything.. the bigger picture, a sense of purpose, a reason beyond.. for we are spiritual beings which means that we have a physical self, mind and an unknown unphysical self that some call the soul or spirit.
When practising certain types of yoga, meditation or quiet contemplation, one is indeed going beyond the physical. Most people find that this very connection though at times undescribable is what brings about a sense of tranquility and peace without being religious at all.
Wikipedia defines this very well, it defines Spirituality as a belief in an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the "deepest values and meanings by which people live.
Connecting to spiritual/emotional "self" brings about inner peace, trust in one's capabilities, passion, courage and strength as we learn to accept ourselves for who we are and not what others may want us to be. It starts with acceptance and leads to taking responsibility for our own lives.
This is not easy as we live in a people pleasing society.. whether it's our boss, our living partner, our kids, our friends it's hard to swim against the current nowadays, hard to stand one's ground and not be swayed by the backlash that might be stirred up. It's a lot easier to be on the logical, analytical side of things after all, there's evidence for things there whereas the spiritual side can only be perceived from an individual point of view.
Religion has it's advantages as it brings hope, a haven, a friend, a life doctrine, encouragement and a perception of a better and brighter future. It has enabled a lot of good deeds especially in our era compared to those before but nevertheless promotes the concept of a blind obedience that sends a shiver down my spine every time I think about it.
Whether it's with cases of martyrs in the middle east or the protestants-catholic conflicts, it's a devotion to the death. Although most religions preach peace and forgiveness, one can't help but wonder why the message is so freely interpretable to some.
Clear Negativity Meditation
- Forgive and Forget
I think this is the most important yet misunderstood concept which interlinks religion and spirituality. Most people who hear this phrase always think one is talking of religion and wants to convince them to do something. Forgiving does not necessarily involve the person who wronged you, it starts with oneself ONLY.
When people think of forgiving, you can see it in their face depending on what or who wronged them, that they think they fall short or that they would be doing the person a favor on top of all that has happened.
The contrary is the case, forgiving always starts with the willingness to gain back power from that person or from that deed. When we fight to hold grudges or keep it no matter how bad, we choose to relive the experience over and over again.
Forgiving involves letting go, not allowing that person or deed to have the power to permanently damage your spirit. No one says that it's easy, some things are hard to let go and you don't have to like the person or be their friend, you are just allowing yourself to heal. With time, as it has less and less of an impact on your emotions and your life, it is replaced with new experiences and thus you forget.