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Spirituality v. Religion

Spirituality Religion

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#21 Cyncie

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:21 AM

Hambil, on Aug 3 2004, 07:37 AM, said:

Okay, since everyone seems to think that spirituality is just religion lite, and still requires belief in a higher power, what do you call belief in an inner power?
I don't think spirituality is "religion lite" at all. As a matter of fact, I think spirituality is at the heart of religion, and religion without it is empty and leads to the kind of abuses and legalities that so many people reject today.

I think we are all spiritual beings in search of a spiritual connection with something greater than ourselves. It's a relationship we seek. Spiritual people have set themselves on a path of spiritual fulfillment, to find that connection. Religions develop as an attempt to guide and direct those efforts.

However, many times the religious institutions take on a life and purpose of their own that is based on rules, systems and legalities. This leads to people substituting the religion for the spiritual quest. When that happens, the rules become more important than the journey, and people get hurt and disillusioned.

Religious institutions, however, can be based in the spiritual journey, and when they are, they can be a powerful source of support for the seeking individual.

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edit: cuz I kant spel

Edited by Cyncie, 03 August 2004 - 10:23 AM.

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#22 Lover of Purple

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:32 AM

This is all  my interpretation so YMMV. :)

To me spirituality is an inner belief in something, whatever that is to each person. To me it is my faith in Jesus as my savior. This belief is deep rooted and guides a my life choices.

Being "religious" is more a sign of action. You can be religious about many things in your life at one time (God, money, food, the internet or whatever), but unless it is tied to the spirituality that personbelieves it becomes only actions without conviction.

Many churches now days are religious and not spiritual and there are still mnay that are spiritual. The problem that many run into is interacting with a non-spiritual church that just practices religion. These people are then given a "warped" view of that particular belief.


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#23 Hambil

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:41 AM

Let's suppose, for a moment, that I believe in the power of man. I believe that sentience and intelligence give us the tools to transcend hate, greed and all that is bad in the world. I believe that it is my duty, as a member of the human race, to understand my sentience and intelligence, to map and explore it, to expand it. I choose, rather than to believe in a God, to believe in me.

What does that make me? It can be what I consider to be very spiritual - seeking your inner self, expanding the mind and your awareness...

#24 Lover of Purple

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:43 AM

Hambil, on Aug 3 2004, 07:39 AM, said:

Let's suppose, for a moment, that I believe in the power of man. I believe that sentience and intelligence give us the tools to transcend hate, greed and all that is bad in the world. I believe that it is my duty, as a member of the human race, to understand my sentience and intelligence, to map and explore it, to expand it. I choose, rather than to believe in a God, to believe in me.

What does that make me? It can be what I consider to be very spiritual - seeking your inner self, expanding the mind and your awareness...
Well, as I said, a deep belief so that makes you spiritual in the power of man.

#25 Mr. Synystyr

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 11:00 AM

Here's my way of looking at it:

Faith = acceptance of something without direct evidence.

Spirituality = belief that there is more to existance than what our five physical senses reveal to us.

Religion = an organization based on faith and spirituality for the purpose of social control.

Certainly these are not official definitions of the terms, but they are what these terms represent to me.  By these definitions, I am a spiritual person, but not a religious one.

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#26 Rhys

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 11:17 AM

Mr. Synystyr, on Aug 3 2004, 11:58 AM, said:

Religion = an organization based on faith and spirituality for the purpose of social control.
So, what do you call an organization based on faith and spirituality for other purposes, such as celebrating that faith and spirituality and giving its practitioners a place to interact with like-minded people?

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#27 QueenTiye

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 11:18 AM

Quote

CX. The Great Being saith: O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity.

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 215)

The topic here is spirituality VS religion.  There are many who would like to assert a sense of spirituality while eschewing religion, and for this reason, a predominant thought is expressed in the title of this thread: VS.  I would like to submit that it is my longstanding practice to avoid dichotomies of this type.  I cannot believe in a world that must always look upon itself in an either or existence, since my practical experience has shown me that that outlook leads almost always to disharmony, and besides, rarely exists as such a pure abstraction.

So saying, I'd like to support the definitions offered here in this thread for spirituality and for religion.  (And I need to add this disclaimer - I started this before some of the responses that are here were posted.  I do not mean to overlook anyone - I simply was mid-post while you were posting!)  They are:

Cyberhippie said:

I suppose that my primary thought is that while Faith and spirituality can both exist in individuals, religion, by it's nature, is a concept for crowds.

Kevin Street said:

Imo, human beings come with a spiritual instinct built right in. It's remarkable that every culture on Earth, all through history, seems to have practiced a religion of some sort....

We can't help looking for patterns in the world around us, and that leads to spiritual beliefs, and eventually the beliefs get codified into religions.

Hanbil said:

To me religion means the belief in a higher power.

Spirituality means the belief in an inner power.

Una Salus Lillius said:

For me religion is not about whether I believe in a higher power. I do btw. Religion is a manmade institution with the well intentioned goal of sharing spiritual beliefs through a standard set of principles. It has not thus far worked for me but that doesn't affect my belief in a higher power.

Ogami said:

Spirituality vs. Religion... I take it spirituality in this instance is wanting to have that warm glowing feeling of being religious, without the encumbrance of the organized religion's strictures and rules.

Hambil said:

Okay, since everyone seems to think that spirituality is just religion lite, and still requires belief in a higher power, what do you call belief in an inner power?

And religion is certainly not 'built into the human condition'. The quest to understand is. That is how our brains work. The need to understand is so strong that if we can't find an explaination, we make one up. Thus, religion.

Jid said:

To me, the distinction between religion and spirituality is simply that religion seeks to help people cultivate spirituality, of a specific form. Religion also is meant to function as sort of a "place" or "tool" of instruction/guidance on spiritual matters where things seem hazy or difficult to discern as an individual.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge Cyberhippie's persistent question - that is, if spirituality or religion are inate, what accounts for atheism, or lack of such belief?

Whew!  I shoulda given my response last night... lol!

Spirituality is, of course, the condition of being spiritual.  The word itself inherently implies a recognition of ourselves as having connection to "spirit" however we understand that.  At minimum, it recognizes that our beings are more than just our physical selves, and that our physical wellbeing is not all that is required for our total wellbeing.  Spirituality also implies, therefore, that there is something we can and should do to ensure our total wellbeing, inclusive of that elusive spiritual part.  I believe we are all endowed with this, no exceptions.  Cyberhippie - the desire of atheists to emphasize their ethical upstandingness is an expression, in my view, of spirituality.  It is an unavoidable recognition that human happiness cannot be had without a sense of "rightness," or as religionists would call it, "righteousness."

As Ogami says, many people today like to have the warm fuzzies of spirituality without the strictures of religion.  He then goes on to mention that that diversity of opinion, that desire to break off and splinter from existing strictures tends to lead to new permutations of strictures.  Hambil posits that religion has been humanity's made up response to a confusing world.  

Indeed, I have to agree with these ideas as well.  From a certain perspective, they are certainly true.  Given the various permutations of oppression that people have imposed on one another in the name of religion, the present day skepticism of religious institutions is justified, but even without a history of oppression, the history of seemingly erroneous information offered as what can only be considered scientific explanations, lends to our understanding of religion as being "just made up."

Another way of looking at this, however, is as a progressive unfoldment leading to the further development of humanity.  Yesterday it was "unclean" to eat things with cloven hooves, or sacriledge to kill a cow.  In the time when those things were revealed - it was most likely of great benefit to the culture where they were revealed (for instance, supposing milk was more necessary to the culture than beef?)  And yet, from our point of view today, these things can seem superstitious, the benefit of some practices no longer actually practical in todays world, and indeed, in some cases, what was once beneficial is now not.  Baha'i faith posits the idea of progressive revelation - that is, that religion, science, arts, knowledge, are all renewed over time.  In that outlook, it is not hard to recognize that most organized religions had forms of organization that were beneficial at the time of their revelation, that are not useful or beneficial today.  For instance - I'd love to see Jewish people try to organize themselves according to the plan outlined for the 12 tribes in the Bible! :)  Clearly, that would not be practical today.  But at the time of that revelation - it was very beneficial to organizing and defining a people, making a nation of them, in the understanding of nations at that time.  

Some of our discussion is also tainted by our reality of living in a secular western nation-state.  Our worldview is shaped by a recognition of the nation-state as having one set of authority and religion having a different set.  Religions, no matter what they look like in their native lands, are profoundly transformed by entering into this setting.  People's relationship to religion becomes a side-matter, literally an option, whereas for many centuries, religion was literally a way of life - inseparable from anything else.  We don't live in the world where our religion provides our food, shelter, entertainment... for instance.  So, for instance, a religion where the activity is to perform rituals at a shrine is going to look very different here in America, or any similarly constructed nation, than it does in the land where that practice is the social activity for the entire community.  In those lands, religion is not the fettered constriction that we see it as here, but rather, the thread that binds the community together.  Consider the record of early Christians in the first chapter of Acts - the inspired community life that they lived has no plausible equivalent in today's society, and any attempt to recreate such a community either fails quickly or becomes oppressively constrictive in the form of a cultic group.
So, human beings, finding themselves in changed circumstances have often attempted to reapply the spiritual principles of their faith to the outward reality of the society in which they live - this "making it up as we go" form of organization is what characterizes most organized religions - some do better than others, but quite often, the religion winds up feeling terribly constricting.  It is my belief that this is because a new religious expression is necessary, one that takes into account the modern realities and is revealed specifically for the modern age.  (That's why I'm a Baha'i!)  

In any event, the purpose of religion, is, in my view, just as CH said - intended for groups. It is intended to accomplish the unity of humanity, as a state of unity is most conducive for human productivity and spirituality. It is intended to codify into a system the things most useful for the society where it resides, allowing that society to become more advanced, because one or two people doing x, y, z will help those one or two people, but the entire society doing it will help the entire society.

I finally will end with a long quote that I found that to me answers the question very nicely.  Thanks bunches for reading this rather longwinded post! :)

HM07


Quote

There are two kinds of civilization, - material civilization which serves the physical world and divine civilization which renders service to the world of morality. The founders of the material, practical civilization are the scientists and investigators and the establishers of divine civilization are the celestial universal teachers.

True religion is the basis of divine civilization. Material civilization is like unto the body; divine civilization is like unto the spirit. A body without the spirit is dead, although it may be clothed in the utmost beauty and comeliness.

In short, by religion we mean those necessary bonds which have power to unify. This has ever been the essence of the religion of God. This is the eternal bestowal of God! This is the object of divine teachings and laws! This is the light of the everlasting life! Alas! A thousand times alas! that this solid foundation is abandoned and forgotten and the leaders of religions have fabricated a set of superstitions and rituals which are at complete variance with the underlying thought. As these man-made ideas differ from each other they cause dissension which breeds strife and ends in war and bloodshed; the blood of innocent people is spilled, their possessions are pillaged and their children become captives and orphans.

Thus religion which was destined to become the cause of friendship has become the cause of enmity. Religion, which was meant to be sweet honey, is changed into bitter poison. Religion, the function of which was to illumine humanity, has become the factor of obscuration and gloom. Religion, which was to confer the consciousness of everlasting life, has become the fiendish instrument of death. As long as these superstitions are in the hands and these nets of dissimulation and hypocrisy in the fingers, religion will be the most harmful agency on this planet. These superannuated traditions, which are inherited unto the present day, must be abandoned, and thus free from past superstitions we must investigate the original intention. The basis on which they have fabricated the superstructures will be seen to be one, and that one, absolute reality; and as reality is indivisible, complete unity and amity will be instituted and the true religion of God will become unveiled in all its beauty and sublimity in the assemblage of the world.

Hence, to this honorable congress I say, "Tear asunder the veils and curtains of these dogmas, remove these accumulated, suffocating increments, dispel these dark impenetrable clouds, that the sun of reality may shine from the horizon of eternity."


(Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 161)

Een Draght Mackt Maght


#28 Ogami

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:08 PM

Handmaiden wrote:

As Ogami says, many people today like to have the warm fuzzies of spirituality without the strictures of religion. He then goes on to mention that that diversity of opinion, that desire to break off and splinter from existing strictures tends to lead to new permutations of strictures.

Yes, that was my intent. But do not discount the importance of groupies.

Groupies drive politics, sports, entertainment. They have a lot to do with the creation of new religious sects. It all boils down to that basic reproductive drive. Create a new religion, and you will personally benefit on that most primal of levels.

I see no reason that lofty ideals have to enter into spirituality. Keep it basic.

-Ogami

#29 WildChildCait

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:15 PM

religion is the organisation, the organised practices and the obvious structure of an organisation.

Faith is a belief in something strong enough to transcend most, if not all moral and ethical reason (after all, how can  you otherwise have a holy war?)

spirituality...spirituality is within oneself, unlike religion. It is also, imho, individual, and you cannot convert anyone to it. It is being at peace with yourself and what you perceive your place to be in the universe, and your relation with  your deities, if you so chose to have them.

Just my two cents

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#30 WildChildCait

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:21 PM

Ogami, I am mildly offended at your supposition that druids use human skin for drums. I also believe it to be blatantly incorrect.  Could you please justify that statement, as I am very interested in your source material. ?

I also think you are wrong on another issue. Sprirituality does not revolve around women and wealth, otherwise, what would women stand to gain? After all, in a lot of organised religions women in practice (though not necessarily in preachings) get a second place....
:suspect:
Chaddee

Edited by Chaddee, 03 August 2004 - 12:22 PM.

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#31 Mr. Synystyr

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:41 PM

Rhys, on Aug 3 2004, 09:15 AM, said:

Mr. Synystyr, on Aug 3 2004, 11:58 AM, said:

Religion = an organization based on faith and spirituality for the purpose of social control.
So, what do you call an organization based on faith and spirituality for other purposes, such as celebrating that faith and spirituality and giving its practitioners a place to interact with like-minded people?

Rhys
Please understand that I intend no offense, and that this is simply my observation based on my own study of a wide variety of religions and spiritual paths, as well as history and sociology.

I have encountered very few organizations like you describe that do not act as social controls.  The rare few that I have encountered are small, philosophical discussion groups that rarely identify with a particular religion.  They offer a chance to discuss spirituality and faith without establishing the "right" answer.

Please note that I do not consider the function of social control to be a bad one in and of itself.  It is normally the organization part of the definition that I have a problem with, since organizations are susceptible to stagnance and corruption; particularly, it seems, when it comes to religious ones.

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#32 Hambil

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:45 PM

Chaddee, on Aug 3 2004, 05:19 PM, said:

Ogami, I am mildly offended at your supposition that druids use human skin for drums. I also believe it to be blatantly incorrect.  Could you please justify that statement, as I am very interested in your source material. ?

I also think you are wrong on another issue. Sprirituality does not revolve around women and wealth, otherwise, what would women stand to gain? After all, in a lot of organised religions women in practice (though not necessarily in preachings) get a second place....
:suspect:
Chaddee
See now, this is the down side of a place for moderated and reasoned debate. I can't say the disparaging sexiest comment my sense of humor would normally have me type  :p

#33 Mr. Synystyr

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:49 PM

Chaddee, on Aug 3 2004, 10:13 AM, said:

Faith is a belief in something strong enough to transcend most, if not all moral and ethical reason (after all, how can  you otherwise have a holy war?)
Faith vs. fanaticism, two very different things to me.  I have few problems with faith, and many with fanaticism.  I believe that faith can be a healthy thing.  I think the world would be a better place without fanaticism.

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#34 Hambil

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:56 PM

Mr. Synystyr, on Aug 3 2004, 05:47 PM, said:

I think the world would be a better place without fanaticism.
I agree. I hate fanatics. Let's start a group and fight back. We'll recruit members door to door, pass out fliers. We won't stop until EVERY LAST fanatic is DEAD.

#35 Ogami

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:56 PM

Chaddee wrote:

Ogami, I am mildly offended at your supposition that druids use human skin for drums. I also believe it to be blatantly incorrect. Could you please justify that statement, as I am very interested in your source material. ?

Only you can be offended by what someone else says, the other person has no control over your reaction.

I was thinking of human sacrifice regarding the Celts and Druids. Whatever they did with their drums is pure speculation, as such artifacts would not, of course, be extant.

My point was that all sorts of dumb ideas were part of one religion or another over time. New religions appear and "improve" the old customs, generally with the exchange of the cult founder gaining some nice perks. Thus do new faiths emerge from the old, verily!

I also think you are wrong on another issue. Sprirituality does not revolve around women and wealth, otherwise, what would women stand to gain?

The women get to touch the Prophet/Living God/New Messiah. Ask David Koresh what the perks of a cult are. Or Charles Manson. It's all the same.

-Ogami

Edited by Ogami, 03 August 2004 - 12:57 PM.


#36 WildChildCait

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 01:15 PM

Yes, and quite frankly Ogami, the habit of a new religion to demonise the old religion has just been proven in your post.

We have no evidence that Druids practiced human sacrifice, and Celts are not druids...you're talking religion vs race there.

Yes, it is my choice to be offended, but when I see gross assumptions and charicaturisations such as that, that happens.

So you are saying I cannot be spiritual without being part of a cult? How narrowminded an approach.
spirituality has nothing to do with gettin in touch with a prophet/living god/new messiah. You can be spiritual on your own without anyone around you. So no, that too is a gross generalisation and not the same.

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#37 Mr. Synystyr

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 01:17 PM

Hambil, on Aug 3 2004, 10:54 AM, said:

Mr. Synystyr, on Aug 3 2004, 05:47 PM, said:

I think the world would be a better place without fanaticism.
I agree. I hate fanatics. Let's start a group and fight back. We'll recruit members door to door, pass out fliers. We won't stop until EVERY LAST fanatic is DEAD.
Excellent!  We need slogans, too!  They need to be simple, catchy, and clearly identify "us" and "them".   :lol:  :devil:

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#38 Bad Wolf

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 01:37 PM

Hambil, on Aug 3 2004, 05:37 AM, said:

Okay, since everyone seems to think that spirituality is just religion lite
Mind telling me what, specifically, I said that made you think that?  BTW, that "everyone" word is one of those words that gets a person on that slippery slope of over generalization....:p

For clarification, because I guess I didn't make myself clear:  I am not a fan of organized religion.  I do not intend to belong to an organized religion.  Nor do I agree with Ogami's hypothesis that a person who is spiritual but not religious is really religious.

To me they very much *are* two separate things.

Yes, imo, spirituality *for me* involves the belief in the existence of a higher power.  This does not equate to "religion lite".

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#39 Bad Wolf

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 01:39 PM

Lover of Purple, on Aug 3 2004, 08:30 AM, said:

Being "religious" is more a sign of action. You can be religious about many things in your life at one time (God, money, food, the internet or whatever), but unless it is tied to the spirituality that personbelieves it becomes only actions without conviction.
See to me, action or inaction are not determanitive factors.  A person can say they're spiritual until they're blue in the face but if their actions don't reflect this then they're not walking the walk, they're just talking the talk.

IMO of course.

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#40 Ogami

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 01:40 PM

Chaddee wrote:

Yes, and quite frankly Ogami, the habit of a new religion to demonise the old religion has just been proven in your post. We have no evidence that Druids practiced human sacrifice, and Celts are not druids...you're talking religion vs race there. Yes, it is my choice to be offended, but when I see gross assumptions and charicaturisations such as that, that happens.

I haven't demonized anything, Stonehenge is generally agreed-upon to have been part of an ancient religion. Records about the Celts and Druids are quite sparse, your categorical descriptions of what they did and did not do are ludicrous. Julius Caesar is our chief source of history of the ancient Britons, and I happened to have read his Annals.

I mentioned Stonehenge in context of ancient religions that are worshipped no more, I could have equally chosen the worship of Chemosh or Atun. Sorry to bother you and your drum.

So you are saying I cannot be spiritual without being part of a cult? How narrowminded an approach.
spirituality has nothing to do with gettin in touch with a prophet/living god/new messiah. You can be spiritual on your own without anyone around you. So no, that too is a gross generalisation and not the same.


I feel spiritual when I see nature, the natural world. When I see human motivation, human desires, I see something else. Sorry.

-Ogami



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