Spiritual Versus Religious
Defining religion might be the best way to start this part. Religion "is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols which relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values."(1)
There are 19 major religious groupings in the world, and from them a total of 10,000 distinct religions, although only about 270 of those have half a million or more followers. In the United States alone, over 2,500 different religious faith entities can be observed. That's a lot of different ways of formulating cultural and belief systems. And yet, most of them have common sources. The religions of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all believe in one universal God, experienced as personal, who is the creator of the universe and the primary source of values, while what I the main Eastern religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism) grew out of local traditions and focus on insight.
A spiritual person is one who seeks to elevate himself, to connect with a higher power, or simply his higher self. He believes there is more to the world than what is easily seen, than what is merely physical. He will have certain guidelines of behavior and diet that he will go by, but all in the name of properly attuning with the infinite and entering some higher state of consciousness. Tibetan monks are the best example of the spiritual.
What's The Difference?
So what is the difference between being spiritual and being religious? One includes the other, right? Well, yes and no. The core of most all religions are built on a spiritual foundation, but remember that Man invented religions and so it is subject to his flaws. If a religion says that it's alright to beat up a woman for a trivial reason or that you must wear a silly clown hat every other Tuesday, does that make it spiritual? Or even moral? No, of course not. So where, then, does being religious part company with being spiritual?
Religions attempt to gain access to a higher power in the hope of improving your life's condition. This usually means sending out your prayers to the deity of your choice, hope that you're heard, then have the firm belief that something will happen. Spirituality involves the attempt to focus your mind to gain access to the higher power within yourself in the hope of improving your life's condition. This usually means meditating to send your thoughts to the Universe in general, hope that it hears you, then have the firm belief that something will happen.
Sounds like a bit of an overlap there. Remove all the ceremonial trappings that were put there by ancient people not then ready for the full sciency version of the explanation, and you have the same core of spirituality. In fact, it all sounds suspiciously like what I said in Point of Power: Intend, Declare, and Detach.
Want to get even deeper into things? (It's too late to turn back now, so you might as well keep on reading). That deity that everyone's always trying to pray to in order to make their lives better? It is, and always has been within yourself. It's just that most people do not have the confidence in themselves to believe that they can access such a power, that they can channel their own solutions (and most do not understand enough of quantum mechanics to realize it is possible). So, they put a face on things and start praying, not realizing that the confidence they have that this higher power can hear and fulfill their wishes is indirectly a sort of confidence in themselves. They don't dare to believe in themselves directly because someone told them that is bad in some way, so they believe in another.
The spiritualists, on the other hand, believe in something. They know that there is something out there that, if they can just attune their minds correctly, they can gain access to and thereby make their dreams literally come true. They don't, however, realize there is a science behind it, and so find themselves a little bit handicapped as they go rummaging around in the dark trying to connect up with this other something.
But there is a science behind it, backed by quantum mechanics, which as we have seen is a lot stranger than anything either religion or spirituality has yet dreamed up. But all that strangeness can still be summed up with Intend, Declare, Detach.
Religions revolve around loving God (by whichever name you give him), knowing that He loves you in return. But why not simply love yourself directly? Because most people cannot; they see only their faults and cannot love themselves, and as such they do not believe that they deserve any improvement at all in their lives. They believe that they must deserve whatever punishment their lives seem to be. Unless they turn to a higher power that can forgive them. This self-hatred, or inability to love yourself, is what gets in the way of manifesting what you need, because deep within you what you're really intending to manifest is this belief that you deserve all the bad stuff you've been getting. So religion ends up being a way out of this conundrum.
Spirituality is all about knowing and loving yourself directly, believing that you do deserve forgiveness and better things in Life. It takes out the middleman of believing in another that in turn believes in you, and just goes straight for the believe in yourself part. Look upon it like this: religion is the power of belief at retail prices, while spirituality is more like wholesale. Even better? Get to the point of Intend, Declare, and Detach, get to that Point of Power, and you can have it at cost.
But just like the old saying goes, "God helps those who helps themselves," you still must take the right actions. Religions say it, spiritualists say it, and Point of Power says it. Send out that prayer or wish, then start taking the actions to achieve it. The difference? Now when you take those actions or actively seek out those opportunities, you will do it with the confidence of knowing you will get what you need to make it through. Religion gives you this confidence by knowing that some higher power supports you, spirituality gives you this confidence by knowing that you are a conduit for the power that you need.
Try doing something with zero confidence that you will succeed; it'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You won't get anywhere and will only attract failure. On the other hand, going in with absolute confidence means that you will not limit yourself by what you think is impossible and you will start to attract what you need. From a religious viewpoint, this would be God assisting you; from a spiritualist point of view, this is the energy of the universe opening up possibilities.
But from another point of view, it is simply yourself helping you, using a power you dared not suspect that you possessed. Be it prayers or meditation, religion or self awareness, it is all different faces of the same beast. But it's time for us to take off the masks and look directly at the face of the Infinite. We just might see our own reflection.
So you see, there is quite a bit of common ground between the religious and the spiritual. A spiritual person is merely a religious person who dispensed with some of the trappings and seeks to find the change and power within himself, where it has been all along.
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