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Does the average human being really know the difference between religion and spirituality? Do you know the difference and are you the average person? We go through our daily walk through life thinking that we know everything, thinking that we are aware of everything and thinking that we are educated but when it comes to spirituality and religion, so many of us are totally missing the point.
We think of the major religions and cults and we think that these are the ways to be closer to God and we think that these are the ways to get to our Heaven and we think that these are simply the ways to live, yet we really never know the truth because we might be so busy trying to follow what we think are the rules that we miss the reality of true spirituality.
What becomes of the Catholics who dress up on Sunday and curse the world for the rest of the six days of the week? What becomes of the Catholics who walk the stations of the cross at night and by day never see that homosexuals are human beings created by the very God that they believe in? What happens to the born-again Christians who on one hand would hate abortion but would think that it is okay to murder an abortion doctor? Where are the christians who say they love the Lord but do severe damage to their own families? Where are the buddhists who think they believe in God but in their hearts believe in only themselves? What happens to the Catholics who believe that the Pope has some extra power, some extra authority over a whole religion yet do not realize that God made us all equals and made no man infallible on this earth. What happens to the Catholics who believed in the fifties and sixties that eating a hot dog on Friday would surely send you to hell, but who now are allowed and permitted to eat any meat on Fridays? Are there catholics in hell who ate hot dogs on Fridays in 1965 and catholics in Heaven who ate hot dogs on Fridays in 1998? These are just questions, not judgments, but honest, sincere questions for anyone that thinks they know the answers to them, then I challenge you for those answers.
What happens to the Catholic priests who taught the eat meat on Fridays and go to hell doctrine, who at the same time might have been seducing young men in the church society? Before you balk at that and those questions or statements, go back and read all the news items and go back and remember the stories that leaked out into the front pages. Were these not religious men? What happens to all the women, dressed in their finest on Sundays, who smirk at those who walk into the church in blue jeans and t-shirts? Is it religion that demands that people put on a show and is it not spirituality that demands God accepts you as you are, accepts you as you come to Him?
What are you? Are you religious or are you spiritual? Are you one of those blessed to be able to be both in real life? Perhaps the biggest difference between those who are solely religious and those who are spiritual is that those religious persons usually focus and face rules and regulations putting true love, true respect and true acceptance on the back burner of life. You can be religious and hate humans but usually you cannot be spiritual and hate humans because that is a direct contradiction to the terms. Some religions demand that you hate certain acts and sometimes those religious people interpret that into meaning that you should hate those human beings and avoid those human beings. Yet, in the real world of actual religious and spiritual history, Jesus Christ never really avoided or hated anyone.
If you remember the stories of Christ, then you remember there was never anyone quite as perfect as He was and is. Therefore no one stood up to His standards, no one could and no one would and no one will ever stand up to Christ’s standards. Only as humans we can try, but the unfortunate problem with some of our tries is that we expect our fellow humans to be the perfect that we can never be. Isn’t that odd? We expect others to be perfect when we ourselves cannot be perfect.
And that perhaps is the biggest difference between attempting to be religious and attempting to be spiritual. The difference is that most religious people seek and are looking for perfection while most spiritual people have found peace and seek nothing but being closer to God. Yes, religious people can seek being closer to God, but their own nature prohibits that when they use their rules and regulations to push humans out of their circles because those humans are not perfect enough for them.
So, what do we do with our own spirituality or religions? How do you handle your real life and your religious life? Do you judge people all day and relax and worship God on Sunday? Do you hate homosexuals Monday through Saturday and then on Sunday pray to the God who made all human beings on earth? Do you propose that we have the death penalty for those humans who have murdered other human beings? What is your belief, your religion, your spirituality? What is your life like and does your life really fit your label? Have you labeled yourself as one thing but live your life as another? Are you a true christian who hates other human beings?
A true Christian can be against abortion but still never, ever want to harm an abortion doctor. A true Christian would never ever want to kill or harm another human being. A false christian hates abortion but advocates killing abortion doctors. What is wrong with that picture? Killing in some sense could be considered religious, and in no one’s spirituality is killing correct. Spirituality teaches that life is precious, all life is precious, not just those lives of the people that you agree with. A true Christian can be against the war and not want to have mass scale protests against the war, protests that obstruct traffic and put human lives in danger. See that is the difference between religion and spirituality.
While thousands might protest the war, perhaps breaking city ordinances and protesting without permits, those who are spiritual might have a peace walk in a locale where it is legal to walk. The peace walk is truly for peace, while the peace protest usually is more warlike than it is peaceful. So there lies the difference between religious attitudes and spiritual actions. You almost always cannot get arrested for a spiritual action while you might get arrested for religious protests.
Before anyone rises up and chooses to violently attack this article, I urge you to take a spiritual path and just post civil comments with your own opinions rather than with your own judgments. You might assume that I am anti-Catholic, though I am not. You might assume I am a Buddhist, though I am not. And you might make lots of assumptions which probably are not true, so pause. Stop and think. Really choose your words in response and make them non-judging words but words of honest opinion, words of possible open communication, words of connection rather than of separation.
Religion judges humans and those who are religious without any spirituality judge humans rigidly but forget that Jesus Christ accepts humans as they come to Him. And once religion begins accepting humans as they come to these religions then perhaps they might achieve real spirituality. And, yes, there are those who have learned the hardest lessons, those lessons that clearly state that truly, honest, religious and spiritual people should not use their religions as a means to separate human beings, as a means to discriminate against human beings or as a means to hate human beings, because Jesus Christ hates no human beings. True spirituality is accepting all human beings.
But wait, yes, that is true, but remembering another important thing is necessary too for true spirituality. We accept human beings but we are not obligated to accept all of their behaviors. So, when someone comes into your church smelling of wine, all drugged out on crack, cocaine or pot, then yes, we accept that person as a human being but we do not need to accept that kind of behavior.
There are so many differences between those who are religious and those who are spiritual, so many that there are probably too many to list or to discuss here. But perhaps we might all change the world one single step at a time, if we could just remember to be religious and spiritual at the same time and remember that in order to be truly religious as God would have wanted us to be, then we need to be truly spiritual first.
God did not invent or create the church, but God did create our souls, our spirits and our need to be spiritual. That is the difference between what is God-made and man-made. Though God wants a church He does not want one that humiliates, harms or discriminates against the human beings that He, Himself, created.
Life peacefully with all persons as much as you can, and remember that when you are harming other people under the name of religion, then you have missed the whole orignal purpose of religion, of God, and of spirituality. What urged me to write this article? Just an experience. There was a time when I had lived in a building that was owned by a very religious slumlord. He owned the building, and took advantages of the tenants, harassed them, belittled them, tormented them, but on Sundays, he dressed in his finest suit to worship God at one of the local Catholic churches. Apparently no one taught him the difference between being religious and being truly spiritual.
Jesus wore a dress. Yes, they called it a tunic, and they called it a robe. But bottom line is that it was a dress. It was the same material, same style but with a different name for the times. Like today, there are manufacturers that put together what they call tops or blouses yet for all intensive purposes these articles of clothing are bras . Yes, they look like, feel like, are styled like bras yet the manufacturer calls them blouses and tops. Is this an effort to get women to wear their bras outdoors? Wow. Rememember the book called, The Emporer’s New Clothes? In that child’s fairy tale, the whole town was kidded into saying that the Emporer had new clothes, but in reality and for all intensive purposes , the Emporer was just naked. Same idea with the tops that manufacturers are calling blouses and tops, they are bras.
So, yes, Jesus wore a dress and or all women are wearing tunics, correct? Anyway, He wore a dress, yet most of his Catholic followers are anti-gay and anti-homosexual. When they see men who are effiminate or when they see men who are dressed differently than the rest, they frown and well, they do more than frown. But, when they see Jesus in the tunic, all they have are thoughts of love and faith. It is really odd how people judge each other, yet they do not judge things or people that they like or respect.
I love Jesus and He is my Lord and Savior, but still I see that he dressed the way that He wanted to dress. Yes, I know that this was the dress of the times, quite popular and normal for that era. And, can you see that what people are wearing today, also is a fashion of the times? The next time you see a guy wearing a pink shirt or sporting earrings, you might want to re-think judging that guy. I am not saying one thing or the other. All I am saying is that words are words and clothing is clothing and all human beings should stop judging people by their words or clothing.
And what does this have to do with Catholics or religion? It has to do with the fact that I have, in my experience, come across so many Catholics who judge and judge and judge and criticize the way that people dress and or talk or walk, yet they profess to love God with their whole heart and soul. To me, those are contradictions in terms and statements. So what is more two-faced, religion or spirituality? Only you can figure that out.
Personally, I believe that a person who truly loves God, will not generally judge other human beings. Yes, they might judge them for a moment or two because they are human and all humans are imperfect , but once they realize what they are doing, they backtrack, apologize and try to make things right again. That is spirituality. Whereas religion is strictly rigid with unbreakable rules. That is just an observation packed from life experience. I have experienced religion and I have experienced spirituality. And they are two different things.
And, so what about the writer of this article, where does she stand when it comes to religion and spirituality? I stand here, right here in my humanness and in my personality of error, some failures and some events and happenings in my life which would be considered so much way less than perfect. But I stand here with my own opinion about religion and about spirituality because I have sampled, experienced and lived little bits of both of those worlds. And I stand here knowing that I like, enjoy and seek to promote spirituality long and way before I would ever promote religion. Religion is entirely man-made, while spirituality is something of the spirit, something closer to God, and something that is not changing. I guess that is why I go towards spirituality. Spirituality is solid. If you are a spiritual person, you will always seek to do no harm first. Before you judge me for this writing, remember that I am not perfect, not infallible and surely not above making hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of mistakes in my one lifetime. But I am happy and glad that I see spirituality. There was a time in my life when I was totally connected to a particular religion, and even during that time, I sought other religions because the one that I was raised in and brought up in and yes, almost brainwashed with, was not giving my heart any joy, peace or any growth. The religion that was in my family seemed to deliver only rules and grand after-this-life punishments, yet offered to way to grow, seek and grow closer to Jesus Christ. So, finally, I realized that what I had, besides religion, was a great spirituality, a tremendous faith in God, and a future in which I knew that I would always be closer to God, if I just looked around, and asked and reminded myself, that if I needed God, He was right here, by my side. I guess, for me, that is the ultimate spirituality, knowing, remembering and acting like God is right here by your side.
I am not putting down religion nor am I saying that no one should be religious. What I am saying is that if a person is religious and then at the same time is hateful towards other human beings, and at the same time has no room for forgiveness, love, joy, kindness and gentleness towards other human beings, then their religion is at the best slightly false and useless. No one is perfect and no one is always joyful and kind. But if a person’s religion does not help them bring kindness, joy, peace, serenity, consideration, love, clarity, and other wonderful things into their life and into the lives of others, then that person’s religion is lacking something very important to spiritual health.
These are my opinions and in with those opinions, there are some facts, and some experiences and some observations. It is only up to you, for you to chose those facts, opinions and experiences which are helpful to you and leave the rest here for someone else to absorb or enjoy. You are a free human being, surely free enough to have your own opinion, and if you are a spiritual person, you will value my opinion and know that my opinion does not make your religion or your spirituality any less than it is. I invite your comments, criticisms and your ideas and look forward to the kind, considerate, open dialog of discussion or if you prefer, I look forward to just hearing you out on these subjects and topics. Write at your own convenience.
While someone can be spiritual and not be religious, others can be religious and not at all spiritual. What is your own opinion?
This article is not a judgment of any religions but merely a few words off the top of my head. They are just thoughts, comments and ideas, so I would not get too excited over them. Peace.
Updated May 26, 2008
write by Annabella