Wednesday, February 27, 2013


A NEW SPIRITUALITY OF INCLUSION The concept of "being spiritual but not religious" suffers from a lot of confusion. One reason is that spirituality fails to elucidate specific guidelines on how to "do it right." Unlike religion, which often errs on the other side with too many rules, or too rigid of rules, a generalized spirituality offers few or no standards for behavior, or even for thought. Many who have turned to being spiritual but not religious left religion in the first place to escape overly rigid rules, so they like it this way. But having no explicit guidelines at all can leave seekers prey to superficial and spiritually counterfeit ideas. 
You can't expect your life to improve because you suddenly start wearing crystals, for example. This absence of guidelines and structure unfortunately leaves people confused, to the extent there is a "spiritual but not religious" movement. An understanding of the spiritual development stages begins to provide a much needed structure to spirituality.

It can orient people toward an authentic spirituality based on a more solid form of personal responsibility, and a deeper form of interpersonal integrity than even our religions teach. One example of this is the concept of inclusion versus exclusion. At the literal level, our religions teach specific beliefs that differ greatly from one religion to another. Each religion excludes outsiders, and denies their beliefs have any validity. But the spiritual development stages tell us we need to move beyond these literal beliefs to become spiritually mature. 
The process includes a step where a person thinks through what he or she has been taught in an open-ended critical manner. This may lead her to reason herself out of belief in that religion, or at least it will lead her to grasp the same teachings in a less rigid, and hopefully less literal, way.

Unlike the specific religions, which exclude outsiders, this form of spirituality includes everyone and everything. Margaret Placentra Johnston, author of this article, explains that "at the upper spiritual development levels, a person can see that all religious traditions have validity when their teachings are seen as metaphors for more universal truths." Nowadays, many people promote various ‘spiritual’ activities because it is considered that they mean open-mindedness and reject ‘religious’ practices which involve close-mindedness. 

The intention underlying this desire to be ‘spiritual-not-religious’ is laudable, but its application is questionable. Usually the intention is that we should be broad-minded, not narrow-minded. That intention is fine, but is the underlying implication true? Is it true that spirituality makes us broad-minded and religion makes us narrow-minded? ... The Vedic wisdom-tradition points to an intriguing relationship between spirituality and religion. It explains that spirituality is meant to help us develop love for God. This is done through a harmonious combination of philosophy and religion, which constitute the two rails on which spirituality runs. The philosophy aspect of spirituality involves the study and understanding of matter, spirit and the controller of both, God. And the religion aspect involves the following of certain rules and regulations that help us realize and experience higher spiritual truths.

Śrīpad Caitanya Caran das (BE E-TC) :
“The Spiritual Scientist” - Articles
"Isn’t it better to be spiritual instead of being religious?"
Bhaktivedanta Academy for Culture and Education (BACE), Pune

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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