Thursday 6 January 2011

A word or two on spirituality and religion

The Xmas rush (and post-indulgence recovery!) means I haven’t posted here for a while, but I have been thinking about it a lot – most especially, I was planning a post explaining my spiritual views. But something held me back – and then I realized what it was. It’s that I don’t want to be seen as ‘pushing’ my views on anyone else, or trying to ‘convert’ them, as all too many try to do. I am firmly of the belief that everyone is on their very own spiritual Path – whether they are part of a formal religion, follow a private spiritual practise, are atheists, agnostics, sceptics or disbelievers, or even one of those who consider spiritual matters so rarely that they have no firm opinion at all!

Note, I say ‘spiritual’ Path, not ‘religious’, because there is definitely a difference. Religion is the outward trappings, the ‘holy books’ and the prescribed beliefs, the hierarchies and the buildings, the symbols and the services. It’s what can be pointed to. Spirituality, on the other hand, is the inward convictions, the relationship you have – or don’t have – with God. It’s what’s in your heart. You can’t see it, but without it, the rest is meaningless. 

Now, I do recognise there can be some good in organised religions. Many find comfort, support and social networks through them, yet others a set of beliefs that fit with their own inner convictions. Many religions also do good through charitable works. But there is so much that is less than good, to put it mildly, and that’s without going into the dire and deplorable history of every religion on the planet. It’s not surprising that so many are turned off religion, spirituality, and God, altogether.

For the record, I believe in God, or rather I believe in the Divine Power. But the Divine Power I believe in is one of Unconditional Love, who created us and loves us, just as we are. Narrow-minded judgementalism and purse-lipped condemnation are no part of the God I embrace. If someone who claims to be ‘close to God’ is full of hatred and anger, if they commit acts of violence - whether it’s picketing and harassing women going for abortions, blowing up abortion clinics or murdering abortion doctors, detonating suicide bombs, flying planes into buildings, blowing up buses, burning fiery crosses in someone’s front yard, or simply harassing, attacking and excluding others for believing or living differently - they are, in my humble opinion, no more ‘close to God’ than a worm is close to the sky. Fundamentalists and fanatics of all kinds more than leave me cold, they make me shiver. They are the most dangerous people on the planet, bar none.

So… maybe I’ll say more about what I believe some other time. For now, suffice to say it’s a funny old world where someone like myself, with feet set so firmly on the spiritual Path, should so frequently find myself agreeing with atheists and the like (except of course on the existence of God), simply because they more often come across as sane, rational, logical, sensible and scientific – while the established religions (who share my belief in God) for the most part …do not. 

It seems that in the spiritual area, I am just as much an individualistic, contrary Aspie as I am in other areas of my life. Huh. Yep, it’s a funny old world all right.