Spirituality and Religion Differentiated

February 6, 2013

Amara Rose, Guest Writer
Waking Times

When I moved to California in 1981, spiritual exploration was still in my future. I had my first astrological reading that year, and the astrologer, who twelve years later would provide a reading that helped redirect the course of my life during my awakening, referred several times to “spirituality.” She recorded the session, and on the tape you hear me asking in a perplexed tone, “What’s spirituality? Is that like religion?”

I needed to live my own spiritual journey before I could understand. The terms can be synonymous, but often they are not.

Spirituality and Religion Differentiated

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist community, has said, “My religion is kindness.”

The word religion derives from the Latin religare, which means “to tie fast” or “to bind together.” One dictionary definition of religion is, “a set of beliefs, values and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.” This would seem to suggest that religion is a subset of a larger rubric called spirituality.

Yet defining spirituality is a bit like describing color to one who has never known sight. Perception will vary according to your beliefs. Of the myriad online resources attempting to answer the inquiry, “What is Spirituality?” a Unitarian Universalist minister offers this view:

Spirituality is being concerned with things of the spirit — the big questions of meaning, metaphysics, existence. Being spiritual is thinking about, wondering about, and exploring the deepest aspects of reality, values, morals, and meanings. 

Spirituality is mis-defined if it is equated with super-naturalism, which tends to be the mistake I find when I hear people object to the word. Nothing about a search for values, morals, and meanings implies faith instead of reason, or emotion instead of intelligence. Spirituality can be all those things, and it is to some people, but not exclusively so. After all, ‘spirit’ simply means ‘breath,’ as in ‘inspire’, ‘expire’ or ‘inspiration.’ Spirit is about being filled with life. It’s about all the ways that we try to make sense of our living, and our attempts to make good from our lives.

Thus, the Dalai Lama’s statement, like his work in the world, broadens the scope of religion to embrace its spiritual essence: both begin with how we think, feel and behave.

 

Read Full Article here

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~ by desertrose on February 6, 2013.

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