What does it mean to be spiritual but not religious?
Western religion would make you out as a criminal, having you believe you’ve done something wrong, right from the get go. You’re a miserable sinner in the eyes of the creator of the universe and you’ve committed an unforgivable cosmic crime… before you were even born.
You should feel guilty and ashamed, they say, and you as a human being are ‘wrong’ in this basic and fundamental way.
But what a terrible mistake! The magnitude of that error and the suffering it’s caused are inconceivable.
Western psychology comes along next, and it only does a little better. Here you’re not ‘wrong’ from birth – but whatever happened to you in early life has almost certainly messed you up.
The problems you suffer from today are caused by childhood trauma. All your neuroses, fears and inadequacies are tangled up together somewhere deep down inside you, creating this dark tortured ball writhing in the depths of your subconscious.
This twisted and tortured mess is nothing but the result of your cumulative life experience. It’s the source of all your insecurities, flaws and failings now and THAT, deep down, is who “you” really are as a person.
Dealing with this stuff effectively is one of the hardest things on earth for any human being to do. And any efforts to suppress or repress it (which we’ve all been doing for most of our lives) feeds a self-reinforcing cycle that only makes it worse.
Well… that may all be true.
But what they don’t tell you is that there’s another layer under that. There’s one more piece of the puzzle, one more level below those depths of trauma and insecurity and fear. It’s a blinding light, shining bright and eternal, unchanging and impossibly beautiful erupting up from your deepest core.
This is the same light that shines up from inside of everything – every person, living thing, every ‘object’, event, thought, sensation and experience there is.
The same light that makes you think and move and feel and somehow be aware of it all at the same time – that’s the same light that makes the trees grow and the wind blow and all the planets circulate around the sun.
It’s what makes our solar system fly through space and the universe continue to expand at impossible speeds. And it’s the same thing seeing through your eyes, beating your heart and reading this right now.
This is the reality, I believe, and it’s why I’ll choose spirituality over religion any day.
Religion pretends to understand it all, when we can’t possibly know. Religion exploits your fear of death. Religion is conformist and controlling – a set of beliefs that’s been given to you by other people. Everything has to be very serious. You’d better live in fear of God… or else!
Religion is an uncomfortable necktie, and spirituality is walking barefoot on the beach. Spirituality doesn’t pretend to know – it just lives in the mystery. There’s no need to fear God or death – just be with things the way they are. Spirituality is in on the cosmic joke.
No one can give you spirituality – it’s something you have to find for yourself. Religion says that Heaven comes later, but spirituality says this is Heaven – right here, right now.
Religion narrows down your perception to a set of existing ideas about how things are and should be. You go through life with blinders on and everything has to fit in the box.
Spirituality opens your perception wider and wider until the direct experience of life is fundamentally different.
You see the tree but you also see God as tree.
You see the pigeon but you also see God as pigeon.
You see yourself but you see God as self – God as whoever you think you are.
You can experience a moment and understand that it’s all perfect – understand it without having to think about it at all. It’s self-evident truth, right here for anyone at anytime.
But of course… no one knows for sure. I can’t pretend to know. This is just my best guess.