The Seeker of Peace


Religion vs. Spirituality
October 15, 2008, 7:18 am
Filed under: God | Tags: , , , , , ,

I recently saw someone’s passing comment that spirituality and religion are not the same thing. That got me to thinking: what exactly is the difference?

For most of my life I had a religion, in the sense that I was an atheist. Unlike most atheists, I freely acknowledged that it required faith. I absolutely believed there was no god, but I knew that there was no way to be absolutely sure.

As I’ve become more spiritual, my “religious” faith has crumbled. I know that most people’s faith has them believing in God rather than atheism, but could that be true in general? Is spirituality incompatible with religious faith?

I think of the famous prophets and enlightened men, such as Moses, Mohammed, Zoroaster, and Siddhārtha. Did any of them of them have faith? Well, why would they need it? When you have personal experience of God or enlightenment, there’s no role for faith. Faith is belief, something that fills in the gaps when you don’t know the truth.

Certainly, there are many who successfully used a religious framework for their spiritual journey. But I suspect that, as they progressed spiritually, they saw their faith replaced with knowledge. At that point, their religion would be solely a matter of cultural tradition, as they’d have direct knowledge of God.

Lester Levenson, creator of the Sedona Method, was fond of saying, “Don’t believe anything I say. Check it out for yourself.” That sounds to me like a man who no only had no faith, but also didn’t want to instill faith in anyone else. Any belief system is a way for the ego to block us from perceiving the truth, and Lester didn’t want to create a new one.

On the other extreme, all indications are that the 9/11 terrorists were extremely religious. I’m sure it takes incredible faith to do what they did. I would guess that they weren’t spiritual at all, at least in the sense that I think of the word.

So, in short, I think faith makes the difference between religion and spirituality. Religion is about believing in God, while spirituality is about personally experiencing God.

Thinking about this also deepened my feelings about the Book of Job, which I discussed yesterday. Job went from having faith in God to knowing God. He went from being religious to being spiritual, while God denounces his friends for still being very much religious. The story has God saying that it’s most important to have a personal relationship with him, rather than making pious speeches or ritual demonstrations of faith.

I never realized before that the Bible contains a cautionary tale about letting ourselves be blinded by religious faith!

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1 Comment so far
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Thanks Jim excellent article. I followed your link from the Sedona site. I have subscribed for subsequent stuff

Philip

Comment by Philip




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