Friday, December 02, 2011

Take Me Home

Dating is like shopping. It doesn’t mean you’ll buy anything and take it home with you.

Advice is like medicine. It doesn’t work in the bottle. You have to take it.

It has taken me months to finally pen down this entry - Spirituality Vs Religion.

I have always wanted to write it.  I have always wanted to express what I believe is my personal experience with God.  All that is written here is just a personal overview.  Mostly, it comes from my general observation.  It derives from a personal experience and an incident, which may sound bizarre, where I felt that I was stricken by the white light.  Somehow, at the moment, I felt I had "small talks" with God and the conversation changed me.

The article here is not exhaustive nor all inclusive.  As it is, the topic on Religion and Spirituality is very broad.

This topic on Religion and Spirituality is often discussed amongst my friends.  It has always been a conversational topic to remind ourselves of our journey, of the question 'Who Am I?' and how do we want to live.  It has always been a topic to model our thoughts, our actions and our attitudes.  However, I must say that I would rather talk about Spirituality than to delve in Religion.

Just as every child is encouraged to attend school and get an education, having a religion is just as important to shape the child.   Humans need some foundation to lean on, some values to believe in.  But, when the child is told to learn 1 2 3 and it is far more important than to learn A B C is inappropriate.  There is no distinct difference when both are paramount.  Same goes to which academic course is far more superior than another that makes one to become more successful.

Religion goes by the same principle.  All religion is good.  Religion makes humans to be one with God.  We should see God as a common denominator among the religions of the world.  Every religion teaches us to know God.  It teaches that God is with all men, with all life.  When we are able to accept this that we will have something in common and it will help unite our differences and our spirituality.

How Do You Live?

Some conversation between me and my friends. 

A:  What are you?  Religious and spiritual?  Spiritual or religious?

B:  Religion is a path to know and to accept God.  Spirituality is how we live with that knowledge and embrace it with full acceptance.  A religious person, with a religion - any religion for that matter, can be spiritual.  A spiritual person may not be religious, may not belong to any specific religion but lives his/her lives creating for honest and pure lifestyle.  Spirituality provides justification and support in divination to accept God.

Likely when you believe in God, you have and belong to one religion.  You go about your life with codified set of beliefs and practices, doing daily prayers and probably rituals.  In a way, it makes you a part of an organized sacred institution, often with strict specific beliefs and (more often than not) compulsory to go to the church, mosque or temple daily or weekly to worship.

Somehow, it is only through an assembly of faith, when you are there amongst many more believers around you, that you feel more empowered.  That you feel that you are closer to God because you think these institutions (be it the church, the mosque or the temple) is the only house of God and where God is.

Inside this holy house, without much realization that you tend to point your finger at the world and belittle other existing religions.  Inside this holy house, you feel that your prayers are mostly answered and that it empowers your beliefs that your religion is the right one.

A:  A religious person believes that there would come a day when God would reward some people and punish others.  But only those that belong to the 'right' religion.

A spiritual person, however, is more concerned with becoming one with the will of God.  He/she lives life with sanctity of nature and honor the divinity in all things.  God is the ultimate but the soul of a spiritual person believes that within the Universe, there is a holy continuum of consciousness which exists in everything, regardless of all labels and in all living and non-living things.

The words 'Religion' and 'Spiritual' are used interchangeably.  Religion marks humans submission and live in compliance with the Holy Book of God.  Spirituality, on the other hand, is a quiet receptivity to the all pervading and all embracing with divine consciousness.

Religious people feel that their path can lead to salvation.  In fact, many believe it is the only path.  They have tremendous faith in their religion and at the same time they feel other religions are wrong.

Does it mean that any individuals who go to such a place, whether a Christians going to the church or the Muslims to the mosque or the Buddhists to a temple, is religious and spiritual?  Does not religion and spirituality, both hand in hand, teach us love and love alone?

What believers take for granted is that all Priests are right in their sermons.  They have high regards to them because they can speak well of the Holy Books.  They are able to recite and tell a better story.  What we forget, however, these Priests are just another humans.  Like us, they are not perfect too.  Like us, they can be lost in translations.

I often wonder when all these Priests, from all the religions of the world, die at the same time, who would God choose to say that only one is right?  What happen to all their good teachings when they were alive where they prophesied about God and inspired others to live well.

B:  Religion, in the eyes of religious people, gives the impression that the believers are spiritual.  However, it is indeed unfortunate should a person who goes to a church or mosque or temple will only be spiritual when he is in there.

A religious and spiritual person should minister his conducts whether he is in or out of this place.  He should not just use this place to experience God but to become conscious of God greatness in all His creations that prevails everywhere and anywhere.

God is everywhere.  He is in the house, in the office, at a friend's place, here in Singapore or in Africa.  He is present on board the plane or cruising on the ship, when we are awake or asleep.  He is in our hearts when we are happy or sad, angry or calm.  He is with us everywhere and in every breaths we take in and out.

A:  Our ego often pushes us to think, by going to these places of worship, we are religious and spiritual.  It becomes a benchmark to one's altered song of ego and a personality that takes great joy in displaying his/her goodness to others.  Many cannot accept that heaven is not only confined inside these places but every where else.

What is unfortunate is when we can have our best behaviors when we are inside these places.  We avoid shouting and screaming, for example.  We learn to be respectful.  We learn to be caring and giving.  We become very conscious to use a mask of divinity to disguise our own egoistic misconceptions. We put our best clothes while we conveniently forget the mess our house is.

We turn our anger to love.  Even our enemy or the person whom we dislike becomes almost a friend deserving our smile and kindness.  We stop gossiping and bad mouthing almost immediately.  Charity becomes our natural behavior while we are inside and without any contemplations, we give donations without a blink of eyes.

Simply, when we are inside it, everything about our attitude and personality become perfect.  We become gracious.  We perfected our kindness, we radiate courtesy and exercise full generosity.  We take pride for gracious living and become good-natured individuals.  We make sure the place stays neat, tidy and pleasing all round.  We obey not to mess things up, we even know where to put back the book of scriptures to the right shelf!  We become an instant OCD!

It is both unfortunate and sad that these good behaviors diminish when we leave the place.  Almost immediately when we step out, we ignore our duties.  We make excuses.  Conveniently, we forget our conscience, morality and values.  It is just as good that we take a different persona and as though we have dual personalities.  We go back to our vices and back in transgression even after when we have had just internalized acceptance and love.

B:  Hence the question, if the Holy Book of Religion (the Bible, the Quran or the Tipitaka) is read daily and that prayers and rituals are performed to perfection, do we become more religious and more spiritual?

A:  Religion is about knowing God.  Spirituality is how you live by God's code and conducts.

B:  When you are spiritual, you accept that you are god-like, having all His nature inside you.  Most spiritualists believe (though it is hard for religious people to accept it) that they are the same as the Source, the Creator (God) and hence god (do note the small 'g' here) themselves.  In a way, it implies since they come from God, that they are god-like.

A truly spiritual person internalizes prayers and rituals to enhance his life experiences to take on a more personal meaning.  With his understanding of God, not from fear based, he lives in a place of God-consciousness.  He appreciates everything about life and yet believing there's a God that creates him and everything else.

To live in this God-consciousness puts you to be spiritual; religion only makes him to recognize the existence of one God.  There is no difference in God-consciousness in spirituality and religion but similarity.  When religion puts our faith in God, spirituality guides the way on how we are to live.  Both is lived and breathed for the appreciation of God, outside and within. 

Religion identifies God while spirituality teaches that the only duty is to change our self to become like Him.  Religion promises heaven after our death whereas spirituality tells us that we can create heaven on earth so long we believe in Him.

A:  But religious people will detest this notion.  The moment you think that you are god and heaven is here on earth, it is blasphemy.  Perhaps, religion has made us to fear God instead of to love Him.

A religious person stands firm where we cannot be god-like.  We cannot have, nor own, God consciousness.  To them, our duty is to revere God.  While it is true that we cannot, and should not, think that we are the ultimate (hence, blasphemy), it is important to think that we have His light within us.  It is His light that we become god-like.  It is through practicing the spirituality of God that we seek to develop an inner light in our heart.

At the same time, we should tolerate other religions and stop making claims that other religions are false.

B:  Spirituality is just consciousness and living life in greater awareness.  Religion, any religions for that matter, does not have to be negative.  A person can be both religious and spiritual. 

All religions preach good values.  All religions have a set of principles to help us become a better, more peaceful and more compassionate individuals.  All religions provide an inspiration for people to live a more divine life.

Of course, there are many people with religion and spirituality who do what they can, when they can.  Somehow, if there are no meaningful actions behind the teachings and rituals of religion, having a religion and being spiritual can be meaningless.

A:  We are all one yet different.  We are all seeking for the same highest outcome for our life, at one or most time.  However , it is such a deplorable act of divine ideology when individuals just talk bagfuls of religious principles but do not practice even a grain of it.  There are those that I know who would swear on his/her religious beliefs and use religion as self-justification.

Religion, in this case, has been misused by its own adherents.  Religion teaches essential things to own pure heart, to cultivate a greater love of God and to offer goodwill to our parents, siblings, neighbors and all the people.  Sadly, when religion is taken for granted and there is an absence of spirituality, some people can act grievously wrong.

A religious and spiritual person should act with highest morals.  Quite often, people with religion have come to the conclusion that only their religion is right, and other interpretations are wrong.  Not only do they think that their religion alone is right but so grievously wrong are different forms of religion that this justifies any means to convert people to their religion.

At worst, in that situation, it seeks to defeat others and assert its own supremacy.  A religion is a personal choice and no one has the rights to force others to change.  Only when one is religiously spiritual that he/she understands the will of God, accepts and loves the world as it is for the transformation of life into the life of God.

Perhaps, a religion can be negative should it instill our conscience with fears.  Often, we are reminded of our sins, guilts and a concept of a God who punishes.

B:  So, can someone be religious and not spiritual?  Can someone be spiritual and not religious?  Can we be religious and spiritual at the same time?  And, how about someone who can be spiritual and not believe in God but particularly believe in something that's greater than himself/herself?

    About Me

    I am a certified Master in Traditional USUI REIKI and KARUNA REIKI. I am also a certified practitioner in MAGNIFIED HEALING and INNER DANCE.

    I have been teaching and conducting spirituality, healing and energy works (including Breathing Techniques, Meditation and Spinal Qiqong) for more than two decades.

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