Why spirituality and religion are so different

Religion and spirituality are not the same. Spirituality is not concerned with myths and fairy stories, but with life. That’s why many people are leaving the traditional religions. They cannot relate to the dogma and ritual that characterises them. They say nothing to them about life as it is lived.

To be valid, a spiritual truth must be true for everyone, everywhere and for all time. It must apply equally to people living in the Arabian Desert, the Arctic wilderness and the Himalayas; in the fifth century BCE, tenth century CE and the twenty-first CE; men, women and children, the old and the young; those who have passed on and those yet to be born.

Religions seldom satisfy these criteria. Some are even restricted to a particular race or genealogy.

A religion is a formalised set of beliefs. It lays down what its followers should accept as true and how they should behave. It insist on compliance and reproaches those who transgress. Often fear and chastisement are used to ensure conformity.

Any religion which controls, divides and excludes cannot, in my opinion, be truly spiritual.

All bone fide religions began with a search for truth, but the living message of spirituality that they purport to offer has often been lost. No doubt the founders of our great religions had the best of intentions, but in a spiritually enlightened world there would be no need for separate religions, as John Lennon said that in his song, Imagine.

Even so, the major religions have much to teach us. Their common ground far outweighs their differences. 90% of their teachings are the same; wars have been fought over the other 10%, so let’s focus on the 90%! No one creed has exclusive rights to the truth. We should look for points of agreement and put differences aside.

We should seek truth wherever we can find it and welcome the many paths that are open to us.

©David Lawrence Preston, 26.12.17

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