Author Topic: Spirituality and Religion  (Read 2487 times)

Sriram

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Spirituality and Religion
« on: April 11, 2017, 07:57:44 AM »
Hi everyone,

I have written about this many times....so one more time will not harm. :)

What is the difference between Spirituality and Religion?

Spirituality can be practiced without religion. It is a form of Self Development. An inner seeking. A method of self discipline and mind control. Many ascetics and hermits are spiritualists. People who practice Yoga and meditations are spiritualists.

Spirituality is a way of reducing the animal instincts within ourselves and increasing our human/divine characteristics.  Less of selfishness, competition, anger, sexual urges, impulsive behavior etc. More of love, tolerance, patience, cooperation, altruism and so on.

The problem is that for Spirituality to be practiced consciously and with clear intent, it requires a certain level of mental and intellectual development and a certain control over ones emotions to begin with. Most people in the past centuries and even today for that matter, may not be able to take it up.

Such people need some form of authority and leadership that they can follow. They also need some form of mythology and legend that will induce them to behave in certain ways, follow certain rules and practice certain devotional rituals.  This gives rise to Religion.

Certain individuals who have reached a certain level of spiritual development will come forward to teach others and to promote certain habits, norms and practices in their community which will help the people to develop spiritually even without any direct knowledge of it.   Religions are born that way.

Religions also serve another purpose of social control and moral discipline. In the absence of civil courts and secular police system, in earlier centuries, it is religions that enforced discipline and control.

So...people can practice Self Development and spirituality in a secular environment without religion or they can follow any religion of their choice that resonates with them  and follow the spiritual path in an indirect manner.  It all works out to the same eventually.

Just some thoughts.

If anyone wants a more elaborate article on this, please follow the link....

https://tsriramrao.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/spirituality-and-religion/

Cheers.

Sriram
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 08:00:54 AM by Sriram »

Rhiannon

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2017, 09:25:35 AM »
For many pagans celebrating sexuality is a part of spiritual practice. It's not something to be denied, but to be embraced.

Sriram

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2017, 10:25:15 AM »
For many pagans celebrating sexuality is a part of spiritual practice. It's not something to be denied, but to be embraced.

Yes...I agree. Even we Hindus have what is called Tantra (a branch of Yoga) which largely focuses on sexual energies and how to use it for spiritual progress. We also have a branch of Krishna worshipers who focus on the Rasaleela (Krishna's dance with his girlfriends) as part of their devotional practice. There was one  swamy Osho (Rajneesh) who was very popular with westerners because he advocated free sexual activity in groups as part of his spiritual teaching.

In my above post I was referring to the eventual goal. Depending on ones nature the immediate goal of different people could be different. Emotional people focus on devotion, people with high sexual energies focus on sex, other focus on service and celibacy, others meditate. 

The point is to regulate and get a grip over our present abilities and needs to progress further. There are as many paths as individuals. One rule will not work for all.

Udayana

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 10:41:51 AM »
So why do you keep trying to formulate a "one rule", "eventual goal" and so on.

Is someone, living how they want, not on their own spiritual path?  Why insist on making them conform to yours?


Ah, but I was so much older then ... I'm younger than that now

SusanDoris

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 01:40:23 PM »
Quote
What is the difference between Spirituality and Religion?
Spirituality is not a belief, it is an aspect of human personalities.
Quote
Spirituality can be practiced without religion. It is a form of Self Development. An inner seeking. A method of self discipline and mind control. Many ascetics and hermits are spiritualists. People who practice Yoga and meditations are spiritualists.
There is a huge difference between spiritualists and spirituality You cannot *practise* spirituality. All humans have a spiritual aspect to their make-up.
Quote
Spirituality is a way of reducing the animal instincts within ourselves and increasing our human/divine characteristics.  Less of selfishness, competition, anger, sexual urges, impulsive behavior etc. More of love, tolerance, patience, cooperation, altruism and so on.
We ARE animals.

Quote
The problem is that for Spirituality to be practiced consciously and with clear intent, …
first you need to define what you think the tenets of spirituality are
 an then how do people ‘practise ‘ it, and how do they know if they are ‘practising’ spirituality even when it is defined?


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Nearly Sane

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 01:47:48 PM »
All humans have a spiritual aspect to their make-up.



Do we? What does 'spirituality' mean then? It always seems to me so vague as to be meaningless.

SusanDoris

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 01:54:39 PM »
Do we? What does 'spirituality' mean then? It always seems to me so vague as to be meaningless.
Yes, it is definitely a vague word and I believe firmly that it should not be allowed to be monopolised by any religious belief.
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Bramble

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 01:57:01 PM »
If you don't mind my saying so, Sriram, your take on this does come across as a little dogmatic. I don't think there's a generally accepted definition of religion, let alone spirituality. I'm sure there are people who would agree with your understanding of spirituality but there are plenty who would not. Are they wrong?

As I understand it, Hinduism is very broadminded about paths but the assumption is that different paths lead to one goal. The trouble is that not everyone will accept that there is one goal, or if they do they will differ as to what this is. Others may reject the idea of a goal altogether or consider the abandonment of all goals to be the final realisation. Perhaps a goal is helpful in the first instance but is later to be discarded. And then of course, people change their minds along the way. This might be considered spiritual progress, failure or even apostasy, according to taste.

'Seek and you will find,' wrote Matthew. 'You will not find it by seeking,' warns a Sufi proverb, 'but those who do not seek will not find.' 'In truth,' counselled the first Zen Patriarch, 'there is nothing to find.' Take your pick.


Nearly Sane

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2017, 02:00:56 PM »
Yes, it is definitely a vague word and I believe firmly that it should not be allowed to be monopolised by any religious belief.
why use a word that appears meaningless?

SusanDoris

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2017, 02:04:18 PM »
why use a word that appears meaningless?
What do you think would be a good alternative word which would convey a similar variety of meanings?
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Nearly Sane

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2017, 02:08:42 PM »
What do you think would be a good alternative word which would convey a similar variety of meanings?
Since I don't think it has any sensible meaning, why would I want an alternative word? What useful meaning do you think it has?

SusanDoris

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2017, 02:26:43 PM »
Since I don't think it has any sensible meaning, why would I want an alternative word? What useful meaning do you think it has?
I suppose I agree, but the word is used and bandied about regularly by religious believers as if they have some special quality that those poor atheists lack! :) Therefore, it needs to be challenged and its users questioned.
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Udayana

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2017, 02:41:52 PM »
Is there such a thing as a meaningless word?

If a sequence of letters is a word, I expect whoever uses it to be trying to convey some information - ie. it means something to them even if everyone else has a hard time receiving the message.

With "spirituality" the problem is that it means different things to different people and is not something that can be demonstrated.
Ah, but I was so much older then ... I'm younger than that now

Nearly Sane

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2017, 02:59:46 PM »
Is there such a thing as a meaningless word?

If a sequence of letters is a word, I expect whoever uses it to be trying to convey some information - ie. it means something to them even if everyone else has a hard time receiving the message.

With "spirituality" the problem is that it means different things to different people and is not something that can be demonstrated.

Essentially that makes it meaningless to me, if something is such that it can be both a and non a, which is what seems to me is true of 'god' as well, it lisre the value of meaning.

Sriram

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2017, 03:28:53 PM »
If you don't mind my saying so, Sriram, your take on this does come across as a little dogmatic. I don't think there's a generally accepted definition of religion, let alone spirituality. I'm sure there are people who would agree with your understanding of spirituality but there are plenty who would not. Are they wrong?

As I understand it, Hinduism is very broadminded about paths but the assumption is that different paths lead to one goal. The trouble is that not everyone will accept that there is one goal, or if they do they will differ as to what this is. Others may reject the idea of a goal altogether or consider the abandonment of all goals to be the final realisation. Perhaps a goal is helpful in the first instance but is later to be discarded. And then of course, people change their minds along the way. This might be considered spiritual progress, failure or even apostasy, according to taste.

'Seek and you will find,' wrote Matthew. 'You will not find it by seeking,' warns a Sufi proverb, 'but those who do not seek will not find.' 'In truth,' counselled the first Zen Patriarch, 'there is nothing to find.' Take your pick.

Bramble,

It is just an attempt to find a common meaning and a common Philosophy of Life for all humans.  Many people may not agree but does not make it a pursuit without value.  There are lots of things we are discovering through science that people do not agree with or even sometimes rebel against...until they get used to the idea. That takes time.

The idea of evolution for example is now a well accepted one....almost a common sense idea. But many people have objected and even today rebel against it. Does not mean it is not a meaningful idea.

It is important that we arrive at a common philosophical base for life in general. I am not saying it should be what I am proposing...but whatever it is, it can be done and should be done.  This is why it is important that we take as many teachings from different regions and different cultures to see how different experiences and thoughts of different people all fit in together.

The quotes you have given appear to be different only because they relate to different stages of development. This is a common confusion in many religious and mystical teachings. How these different views fit in will become apparent once the total philosophy is understood.   

It is like different people climbing Mount Everest from different directions and in different seasons. Their experiences at different stages of the climb will be different as compared to  others. People reading about it would  get confused and assume that they are referring to different mountains....which is not true.  Once we take the climb ourselves, we will understand what exactly each one of them meant.

Spirituality does not have to mean different things to different people even though it might presently. That is the whole point....to arrive at a common understanding.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 03:41:16 PM by Sriram »

ekim

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2017, 03:58:08 PM »
I think what you are suggesting, Sriram, is what used to be called The Perennial Philosophy ( and maybe still is).  This article in Wikipedia gives a description of it :-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy

Sriram

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2017, 04:08:06 PM »
I think what you are suggesting, Sriram, is what used to be called The Perennial Philosophy ( and maybe still is).  This article in Wikipedia gives a description of it :-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy


Ah...that's an excellent link, ekim!  Thanks.   Yes...I know that the Theosophical Society and many others have argued for a common base for all world religions. In the 19th and early 20th centuries  it may have been a very complex task to put together all religions and find a common base. Getting relevant information itself would have been very difficult. It's much easier today because of the internet and also because of the findings at Nag Hammadi and the rise of the New agers.

But there are lot of big words in the article and I will take some time to read it.

I am approaching  this from the simple Hindu stand of a common base for all religions...because that is the way it really is in all Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism etc.  Hinduism itself  is in fact a collection of different 'religions' with a common base. So....taking a common view is easy for me.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 04:10:07 PM by Sriram »

ekim

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2017, 04:26:03 PM »
Good luck with your venture Sriram.  It is possible to associate some of the words of Christian, Jewish and Islamic mystics with what you are suggesting but I think you will have great difficulty when it comes to the organised religions of those persuasions.  The distinction between a mystic and a heretic was probably a fine line that some had to tread with care.  Schools of thought in India seemed to have been allowed to proliferate without the fear of persecution.

Sriram

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2017, 04:56:41 PM »
Good luck with your venture Sriram.  It is possible to associate some of the words of Christian, Jewish and Islamic mystics with what you are suggesting but I think you will have great difficulty when it comes to the organised religions of those persuasions.  The distinction between a mystic and a heretic was probably a fine line that some had to tread with care.  Schools of thought in India seemed to have been allowed to proliferate without the fear of persecution.

Thanks, ekim!  I think the fear factor is significantly less these days compared to the past and is likely to get even lesser in the future.   

In any case I think a common philosophy will automatically arise with greater knowledge and understanding of other cultures. Its building  bridges with Science that is another big challenge. But I am confident that  will happen too!
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 05:00:03 PM by Sriram »

Udayana

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2017, 05:24:01 PM »
I'm failing to see why having a common philosophy is at all important.

In fact it is probably a big mistake, especially if it involves creating religion and mythology in order to "induce them to behave in certain ways, follow certain rules and practice certain devotional rituals".

You may as well bring peace to the world by force conversion to Islam.

Our common base are our animal bodies and human-animal nature that will always insist on seeking its own path to freedom.
Ah, but I was so much older then ... I'm younger than that now

Nearly Sane

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2017, 05:27:29 PM »
Yes, i agree with Udayana. It seems simplistic and restrictive to think that we would gain from uniformity. That's even if we are really capable of holding a consistent 'philosophy' as individuals.

Sebastian Toe

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2017, 11:54:43 PM »
S p t u a y
 ;)
"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends.'
Albert Einstein

Bramble

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2017, 11:00:45 AM »
It is important that we arrive at a common philosophical base for life in general. I am not saying it should be what I am proposing...but whatever it is, it can be done and should be done.

Spirituality does not have to mean different things to different people even though it might presently. That is the whole point....to arrive at a common understanding.

I think it might help the discussion if you explained why you would like to replace spiritual and philosophical diversity with a monoculture.

It strikes me that the word 'spirituality' is useful precisely because it allows for different interpretations. If, for instance, we were to restrict its use to something like your definition then it would simply exclude a great many people, who would find it irrelevant or alienating. I would be one of them. This is what has happened with the word 'God'. Once such words become captive to rigid belief then they ossify in a particular form and function as a means for dividing people, which is perhaps what you are hoping to avoid by establishing a common understanding.

I think your faith that peoples' very real differences can be explained as mere stages of development is wishful thinking. It requires the entire paraphernalia of your belief system, including reincarnation, karma and all the rest to work itself out, and I fail to see why anyone might consider it something to be wished for.

Maeght

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2017, 11:12:49 AM »
It strikes me that the word 'spirituality' is useful precisely because it allows for different interpretations.

Can't see how having a word with no clear definition is helpful.

Quote
If, for instance, we were to restrict its use to something like your definition then it would simply exclude a great many people, who would find it irrelevant or alienating. I would be one of them.

Then a different word can be used for different things. Isn't that how language is supposed to work? Its about communication and if you use a word to mean one thing but the person you say it to doesn't really know what you mean by that that doesn't seem a good idea to me.

Bramble

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Re: Spirituality and Religion
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2017, 11:27:38 AM »
Can't see how having a word with no clear definition is helpful.

Then a different word can be used for different things. Isn't that how language is supposed to work? Its about communication and if you use a word to mean one thing but the person you say it to doesn't really know what you mean by that that doesn't seem a good idea to me.

My take on this is that spirituality can be seen either as something exclusive and meaningful only to certain people, which strikes me as not very helpful or interesting, or it is relevant to everyone, in which case it must be a 'stretchy' word because people are different and also change. Sure, there's no universally agreed definition and you're free to take any version you like, as is Sriram.