Has materialism allowed us to stay Religious while robbing us of our Spirituality? It is customary today for religious organizations and persons to refer to themselves as spiritual. In fact, they use the terms religion and spirituality interchangeably. While attempting to not disparage anyone’s beliefs, a better understanding of spirituality can only assist us in our religious understanding.
In the beginning, religion was a tool to be used in spiritual development. In the process of creating a totally materialistic paradigm for what is real, religion was removed from the realm of the metaphysical into the realm of the physical (material). The unfortunate consequence of this act was that religion was no longer used to achieve a spiritual connection to God. Religious worship was transformed into an understanding based on emotional, intellectual, and physical perceptions. Salvation was to be found in a belief in a book, a building, and finally in a former living being called a savior.
o Religion: any specific system of belief, worship, conduct, etc. often involving a code of ethics and philosophy.
o Spirit: the life principle, esp. in man, orig. regarded as inherent in the breath or as infused by a deity.
o Religious: characterized by adherence to religion or a religion.
o Spiritual: of the spirit or the soul as distinguished from the body.
The above dictionary definitions should clarify for us that there is a difference between religion and spirituality. The main difference is that religion is totally external, while spirituality is totally internal. What stands out most is that the religious person is a “believer”, while the spiritual person is at least attempting to be a “knower”. What is the difference? The believer’s ideas and attitudes are formed by external stimulation; while the knower goes through an internal process of understanding reality. The believer can not deal with abstract concepts, he/she can not get pass the labels and/or definitions of a thing.
The knower attempts to experience the reality of a thing, thereby knowing it. We are all spirits or souls living in a physical body. But as long as one’s consciousness is in control, the spirit is simply an neglected part of our body. There is an indwelling intelligence laying dormant in each of us that has to be awakened. As long as we are consumed by the material, as long as we are constantly trying to fulfill the non-stop request of the physical, nothing spiritual is going to happen in our lives. Regardless of how much dogma or church one gets, unless one learns to go within, the spiritual part of one’s being will remain dormant.
There is an old African Proverb that states:”All knowledge begins and ends with self knowledge. Failure to understand this proverb has helped to create the conflict of Religion vs Spirituality. There is a resolution to this conflict. With soul searching and help from reliable sources, we can manifest the spiritual life force in our daily lives.