Seeing as I have lived the extreme version of religion and have turned my brain over to its leader’s to validate and direct (for a time) and then mustered up the courage to leave (stay tuned for the memoir), I have something to say regarding the differences between spirituality and religion. And they are most definitely not the same thing.
Here is a bit of what I have learned and five indications your spirituality could be in danger:
1. If you think filling a religious to do list will make you happy and/or more spiritual.
Your religious to-do lists could benefit your life, but they also have the potential for stress and anxiety. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, instead of genuinely enjoying the task at hand, your spirituality is compromised.
Lists can help us achieve goals and fulfill dreams; but only when our ‘doing’ is infused with love and authenticity do they have power and a transformational effect.
To make spirituality (or the ‘how’ of doing things) a priority is to engage in a practice that is universal, classless, race-less – one that transcends every religion and political system. And if a religion (or our practice of it) does not support such transcendent qualities, then our spirituality is unsafe.
2. If you think you can save someone with your glorious words.
People learn what they need to know, when they need to know it. Just because they bump into you during that process doesn’t mean you did anything.
3. If you think you know more about the life of another (and their choices) than they do.
If you have the balls to assume you can possibly guess every thought that goes through another person’s head, including the full understanding and knowledge of their past experiences and the emotions wrapped up in ‘all of that’, well, you are either God or you are an arrogant ass.
4. If you think someone else knows more about your life and choices than you do.
We do not need the permission or sanction of another. Uncertainty is a gift. (Jonathan Fields explains this brilliantly in Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance)
Trust yourself. Trust your mistakes, that they lead you exactly where you are to be. Forgive. You have everything you need already.
5. If the functions of a religion and/or conversion of others take precedence over making authentic connections.
Giving approval and/or receiving sanction from others limits, slows, stagnates. It stupefies the mind and heart.
Religions, communities, political systems are only as good as the people occupying them. If members are more preoccupied with enrollment numbers and fulfilling the expectations of clergymen, leaders and other members, the collective weakens and will encounter unrest within the ranks.
Spiritual, social, and political structures have a lasting, powerful impact when the growth and best interest of the individual is made paramount; because secretly, we all want to believe (and be told) that we are the “super-heroes” of our own lives. And we are. Any thing else suppresses, oppresses and causes us to walk a line with the brain-washed mass.
In the beginning of his essay Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely stated:
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men – that is genius.
Spiritual self-reliance does not mean being unaffiliated with any religion or to abandon the one you are currently a member of. It simply means that you are unwilling to let others dictate your path or make decisions for you, even if those “others” are people you admire or are authority figures. It means you take complete accountability for your thoughts, choices, and actions.
It is scary as hell to be spiritually self-reliant – to blaze a trail into the unknown. It takes raw honesty. It twists your guts until you submit to that colossal sensation: Courage. It is a tough road. But it also makes you a stronger link in the chain of whatever community you belong (religious, social, or political), which benefits not only that particular group or organization, but the whole of mankind. And that is hot.
A few hot!practices, if you feel inclined:
hot!practice #1 Next time you are ‘doing’ anything… pause, take a breath, bring your attention to the quality of what you are engaged in, even if it is simply standing in line at the grocery story, listening to another, or spreading butter on toast. Less stress, less rush, less mistakes, less mishaps. Allow full and complete attention to the task at hand. Fill your religious (or any, for that matter) check-lists that way and you will infuse laser-like power into whatever you do.
When another person is talking, forget about what you want to say or need to say, what you think they need to hear and… listen. Find that internal place where you have no agenda, where you think of nothing and simply wait for their next word. Find it, because you genuinely care. And even if you don’t (genuinely care), this practice will not only allow you to deepen your quality and understanding, but it will transform the situation into one that benefits you both.
hot!practice #3 Find out what other people can teach you. They came into and are a part your life for a reason. If you ignore the signals to the lessons they bring, life will bring them back again and again, turned up in volume and dressed differently. Do whatever you can to find them and then say “thank you.”
Reblogged this on orglearn career resources and commented:
I love your words. In my Easter post, I explain that religion is merely the box, not the contents, of God’s love. –Judy
Well said, Judy. Thank you so much!
Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog.
Thank you! Have a great weekend!
Have a wonderful weekend, too!
Love it & I’m sharing it!
This is something I want my children to understand. I believe that religion is important and helpful, but not at the expense of loving others. We are all just people doing our best and we shouldn’t judge or fault others when their best isn’t what we would like. We should seek to lift others but not force them down a path that they don’t choose for themselves.
Exactly. And well said also.
This was a great read ….lots of food for thought.
Thanks, Susan! And thanks for the Twitter share and add!
You have some good points Amy. However, I think it is unwise to mix God’s name with such vulgar profanity. I thought better of your judgment. I admit I have not had the same religious experience as you. You have definately been dealt a difficult hand. We grew up in the same family, isn’t it wonderful that we can choose any direction we want to go without someone forcing us to be someone we don’t want to be. The initial shock of losing someone to a different lifestyle is painful. That is where all the conflict starts. When the dust settles and living becomes normal again, we begin to show our true character by how we treat each other. I know I have hurt some in the things I have said. I am sorry. I can honestly say that no one in this world has power over the dicisions I make but me . I am gratful for the agency I have. I am not in a trans or brain washed. I am totally happy with my decisions. For those that I feel have made my life miserable, I am sorry for them if they are the same person today. But I do forgive them and try not to waste my time simmering over the evils they have placed in my way. It is good for me to have experinces that test my love for my fellowmen. It may take all of my life to build enough character to be considered an admiral person. I am thankful for the experience. I just want to add that once the world reads the things you write, it can’t be taken back.
Maybe Bob Dylan summed it up best
Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on it’s side.
Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on it’s side.
War had it’s day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I’s made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.
The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side.
When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.
I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.
But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side.
In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.
So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war.
I am all for the spiritual world – more of what you are writing. When you have pissed some one of you know you have hit a nerve..
It’s disappointing to read the hateful comments from last yr regarding this post when I tend to COMPLETELY AGREE with you! Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I didn’t see anything even remotely vulgar in this post. Anyhoo, the ego is wrapped up in religion (imo) so if you tend to disagree with someone’s views, they can’t help but become SO offended, as if you directly harmed that individual with your disagreements . I chose to forgive those that believe they are correct in their views. By contrary, I do not assume I am right or correct either when choosing to be agnositc, but it makes me happy. I can believe in some sort of higher power without “witnessing” aka attempting to indoctrinate other people. I only share my views when someone wants to hear them. I posted a pic to fb yesterday, pretty much sums up my religious perspectives: I would rather my mind be open to wonder than closed by beliefs. on a side note, i wanted to thank you for following my blog, which led me to review your post! As a newbie to wordpress, your support is greatly appreciated. hope you have a nice upcoming weekend!
Cathy, thank you for everything you said. And I love that quote! :)
psst… those “negative comments” were actually posted by my older brother, whom I love dearly. I am still baffled as to how he came to his conclusions regarding my post. Oh, well. C’est la vie. ;)
Good food for thought all this.
Thank you, Brett! :)