There is a definite difference between religion and spirituality. Though
they do not have to be completely independent of one another, the basis of their
construction lies on a different foundation. Religion tends to be defined by a
system of beliefs which defines one’s attitudes and actions. It is largely associated
with the mind, and considering that the average human is only given usable
access to ten percent of the mind he is given, this route to enlightenment tends
to fall short. What happens more times than not is that the religious person
associates his concept of truth as the only real truth, an idea that often only
seems to bolsters the persons division from the rest of the world by claiming
that theirs is the only right way. Historically, and even recently, this has
resulted in murderous results as people have sought to defend their beliefs
and annihilate those that disagreed with them.
Spirituality, on the other hand, transcends the realm of thought to the
realm of consciousness, or no thought. This in no way means that a religious
person cannot be spiritual, only that the religious person sets up parameters
for himself whereby he can access the spiritual, similarly to traveler using a
map instead of only reading the signs along the way.
Western religions have generally been more thought based whereas
the Eastern religions are more experiential. As Christianity, Judaism, and
Islam propose that the adherent stick to the selected texts and doctrines
proposed, Buddhism and Taoism promote the practices of meditation and
yoga. This is not to say that Western religions do not promote prayer and
meditation, or that Eastern religions don’t have selected texts, only that
Western religions are often more hierarchical and thought based in their
practices. However, the differences are blurring.
From the Beat movement’s fascination with Buddhism to the Pope
visiting a mosque, the walls between religions are coming down as, more
and more, adherents are seeking to understand one another better. People
are realizing that truth exists outside of the forms that they have come to
accept. But just as some are more open to understanding and gaining a new
awareness, some will become more rigid in their beliefs and fight against the
Religious belief is, in large part, an egoic construct that enables people
to stand apart from others, just like a political ideology, nationality, or even
choice of football team. It is not something that can be easily deconstructed if
someone is holding firmly to it. Though Democrats and Republicans may say
that they want bipartisan agreements, they are still contingent upon their
identification with their respective parties. But awakening to true consciousness
means letting go of identification and realizing the truth beyond the forms that
we have come to embrace in order to open ourselves to a new understanding.
Looking at the establishments that are set forth here on earth, it may
appear to be an impossibility for many of the constructs to be broken down.
Though we may think of the idea of Democrats and Republicans or Christians
and Buddhists as solidly grounded and completely unable to be deconstructed,
the reality is that all of these things will pass away. Consider how firm a hold
Communism had in Russia, and how it ultimately met its demise.
All of the constructs that we have created will pass away. All of the
religions point to it in their prophesies and teachings, just as all of the religions
point to the one immaculate truth that binds all of them together. All things will
pass away because all things return to their source: pure consciousness.