Disclaimer: My hope is that this is a post to encourage thinking and curiosity. I am in no way trying to judge anyone for following any religion. It is merely my opinion. I do wholeheartedly agree that most people who follow religions have good intentions and are doing what they feel is right for them with what they know. I do not intend to harm anyone by what is written in this post. I will be the first to say that I am not perfect, and I do not have all the answers.
It took me a very long time before I could get behind something I now call spirituality. I was not forced into or brought up in any single religion. My parents did not force a belief upon me and always told me that I could choose to believe what I wanted to believe. I was taken to different churches and allowed to talk to people of many different religions. I’ve even briefly attended Christian and Catholic church and completed some Bible studies. I have friends from almost every mainstream religion that have been open to sharing their experiences within their own religions.
Til this very day I continue to learn about other religions, spiritual beliefs and ancient beliefs. I have found many similarities (maybe not very surprising to some), and many are deeply fascinating. What’s very interesting is that I’ve been able to form some of my “own” more “instinctual” beliefs and then found that others around the world also believe that exact same thing.
I have always been open to exploring different religions in the hopes that maybe someday I would find exactly the one I could follow that encompassed what I believed. I used to be scared to talk about this subject because I thought people would judge me and that I would offend others with my beliefs. I might lose readers for this kind of post, but I am staying true to myself and finally being authentic and hopefully those readers can look past their own beliefs and ponder some interesting points.
This journey got me looking very closely at different religions and what people call being “spiritual.” I found that so many religions are actually quite similar, including the same types of origin stories, “great flood” stories, and concepts. Many of the stories and morals are based on the same things, they are just culturally different and tweaked based on the needs of the demographics and people. I find it intriguing that even ancient cultures from opposite ends of the world will also have similarities within their architecture, culture dynamics and beliefs. I will go more into that in a future blog post. For now, I want to point out some significant differences between what we call spirituality and religion.
It finally dawned on me one day that religion and spirituality are two different things. You can also be both religious and spiritual together. I had been searching for something that was always within myself. Once I realized this, I finally found a label I could identify with, which is “agnostic.” The dictionary definition of agnostic is “a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.” For me “agnostic” was the closest label I could identify with, but I do have believe in the ALL/Consciousness or a creator or spirit or energy or whatever IT is, but I don’t presume to know that what I believe is true. The labeling of my own beliefs is really ever changing and I’m ok with that. The pursuit of truth and love is really what matters. To me, love, is the ultimate form of consciousness. Love essentially transcends everything across time, space and whatever else there is.
As always, I strongly encourage you to do your own homework, as you should never take a single person’s viewpoint as complete truth. Some of the things I came across while learning about religions and spirituality weren’t exactly true or well-intentioned. All you need is an open mind, a curiosity for truth and critical thinking/free thinking skills.
Religion appears to separate, while Spirituality appears to embrace all
It seems that many religions preach that their beliefs are the one and only way and that everyone else is wrong. If you don’t follow such and such religion or such and such rule, you are damned. Oftentimes the labeling of being “damned” means that you have committed some type of wrong behavior or thought and that means you are “going to end up” somewhere terrible in the afterlife. Many horrible things have been carried out in the name of religion for many, many years and horrendous acts have been done to individuals because certain religions allow certain people more rights, freedoms and control over others. How does that make any sense if we are all created by one God? Why it is that any single religion is the “ONLY” religion? Why are we all separate in our thought processes, beliefs and cultures?
I recently attended a service, where the priest spoke about having a career that would possibly entail you killing someone, but that it was not considered a “sin” if it were a part of your job. Really, that’s ok? I guess I’m just confused, and I don’t fully understand the concepts completely. I’ve also seen billboards promoting military recruitments at so-called religious universities. Made me go, “wait, what”? So, these people are exempt from the “thou shall not kill” part? I’m not bashing anyone’s career that entails them possibly defending themselves or others, but the part where the “religion” itself can decide the exceptions, is what I’m most confused about.
Spirituality lets you explore many ways of living and being, essentially seeing the truth in all of them. Spirituality allows you to choose what you believe is right and wrong and allows for the notion that every religion is right and wrong. It focuses on the love and shared divinity and not on the differences in details of the stories, rules or morals/ethics. The one overarching “wrong” that does seem to be consistent is that one must not to do harm or kill another intentionally. But again, in some situations, is it ever, right? What one religion or culture might deem harmful; another might see no issue at all.
One other thing to clear up is the difference between the terms “moral” and “ethical.” I’ve had many debate on this myself with loved ones. So, to be clear here are the definitions per the good ole dictionary (see below). There is an ever so slight difference, the terms ethics and morality are often used interchangeably, but different communities and cultures (academic, legal, or religious, for example) will occasionally make distinctions. It is worth knowing how one uses both of those terms.
Moral – 1 a. of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior
Ethic – 1 a. a set of moral principles: a theory or system of moral values
What may be moral and ethical in one culture or religion, might be completely disturbing in another. Who is right? The debate rages on.
Think of some of the atrocities carried out towards people, women and/or children all over the world in the name of religion (forced marriage, genital mutilation, or killing someone as a punishment for a lesser offense or even only believing something else than that of the killer). Is that moral or ethical? As a species, how do we allow this even in the name of religion? Are we all not HUMANS?
I would never presume to enforce my beliefs on others, nor would I begin telling anyone how they ought to live their own lives or judge them, so long as they are not hurting themselves or others. I remain open to hearing what everyone has to say about their beliefs and could adjust mine as needed, I am not limited to a set of beliefs and rules.
Religion punishes, Spirituality allows you to learn from mistakes (within reason)
Examining many religions, I found that another common characteristic is that it is made clear that if you do not follow the “rules” of the religion you are going to go to hell or even be punished in your current life…or ultimately killed (as mentioned above). Religion provides a “list” of what is considered right and what is considered wrong. Religions tend to base this on texts like the Quran, Bible or the Torah. Some religions allow for human beings to punish each other if these rules are not obeyed. These texts are interpreted by human beings and translated by human beings. We cannot say for sure that these texts are truly the word of God, we are required to have faith and follow along regardless of proof. So, if we follow religion, we are to follow rules written by human beings, which tells us that if we do not follow the rules, we will spend eternity burning or be punished by our fellow human beings.
To me that does not sound logical or spiritual. I am to follow these rules that have been in place for many centuries, that have nothing to do with how things work today, that can belittle or endanger my gender and make me submissive, as well as limit my life in order to attain a ticket to Heaven? To me, a creator who supposedly has given us free will, would not need to impose so many rules to get into “his kingdom” and not allow us to punish others for breaking the rules.
Personally, it is my opinion that many of the texts were tweaked by humans over time to fit the current government and societal needs, to keep people in line and prevent everyone from acting on their darkest desires (these people might not have even had good intentions whatsoever). Additionally, why are women given such a bad rap and made to be subservient to men and required to follow a different set of standards, morals and rules? ALL humans would not be here without a mother. The idea of the divine feminine has almost been utterly eradicated from history.
These are probably debates or topics for another post. I will also hold off going into depth about the recent legal and money issues some religions have recently been faced with. Humbly stepping off my soapbox.
Spirituality, on the other hand, can deal more with things like cultivating “wellness” in oneself and “karma.” Meaning, what I do, can cause a natural consequences and possible future repercussions…good or bad. So, it would behoove me to try my best to do my best in order for good things to flow back to me. Most human beings have an innate sense for “right and wrong.” Spirituality lets you decide what is right and wrong for yourself in alignment with the natural world. Essentially, we live by the laws of the universe itself. Spirituality does not force you to impose your will on others and shame, judge or punish them if they do not believe in the same things as you. Spirituality allows you to make mistakes and learn naturally from them and grow as a human being. I don’t need to have other people or organizations to tell me what is “bad” or not good. Most spiritual people genuinely try to do good overall. There are definitely some outliers and extremes to this too. Spirituality does not condone harming others.
Religion seems fear-based, Spirituality seems love-based
As mentioned above, you have to follow rules or guidelines in order to reserve a place in what we consider “Heaven” or the afterlife and if you don’t, you will face the predetermined consequences. Many that have been raised in a religion, are taught these teachings from a young age and therefore are never openly given a chance from childhood to truly decide for themselves. People are conditioned and told to blindly follow these rules of faith or else…thus living in fear that if you do not follow, you are not worthy of God’s love and salvation. Some religions will allow you to “sin” so long as you confess and repent. So, are you telling me that I can do whatever I want as long as I confess and repent? How does that work? Why is that allowed? Is there ever a point where if I don’t change my behavior, I won’t be forgiven?
Some religions can change the rules…again if it was right for so long, what makes it not right now and vice versa? Also, why do some religions pick and choose what to focus on out of the texts? Why isn’t it all or nothing? How could anyone know exactly what they are supposed to do? Oh wait, they have special buildings (built by human beings) and religious officials (human beings) to tell them instead of searching for their own truth. People have been scared to even think about looking for their own answers because of the fear that is instilled. I don’t think I need to go into the destruction religious extremists have caused. I’m sure there have also been “spiritual” extremists and those that have abused others in the name of spirituality. If one is truly spiritual…the consequences will come naturally.
Spirituality allows individuals to connect with a higher purpose and spirit in any way that brings them joy or enlightenment. The notion is that the more you can be aligned with the universe by way of positive energy and love, the more you enlightened you will feel. Most strive to attain a higher level of consciousness and love as a foundation to live by. There are no “rules” to follow, only what you decide is best for you. It focuses on the good in people and a drive to do what feels good for yourself and others. Spiritual people are big on spreading love, openness, support and understanding, not fear, hate, rules and separation. You don’t need to limit every aspect of your life to appease God. Many spiritual people believe that what we call “God” lies within you and truly wants you to live and enjoy the life that has been given to you. We are all connected, and we are all one.
By loving yourself and others you essentially love your creator as well. Doing what brings you joy and happiness so long as you are not hurting yourself or others is what I truly believe our creator(s) want for us. I do not believe the creator(s) want to test and punish us to see who is worthy of spending eternity in a magical place. If there is a magical place, it would make sense to me that our creator would want us all to return and thrive. I’m open to the possibility that what we consider “Heaven” is actually another dimension or realm unbeknownst to us. I am also open to the fact that a single religion may very well be 100% correct. The thing about spirituality is that I may not be right, but I am free to believe that and also keep searching for more truth and answers, which would also possibly impact my future beliefs. I consider this true “free will.”
How can you be more spiritual?
- Decide what is right and wrong for you. Describe your ‘authentic‘ or ‘true’ self. Think about the values you want to live by and those that bring you down.
- Forgive yourself for past indiscretions or “sins.”
- Accept that everyone will not like you being spiritual.
- Learn, ask questions, be curious and think for yourself. Try thinking outside the proverbial box. Trust me, people can’t see what you are thinking.
- Travel and seek out new experiences and people. Explore and be adventurous.
- Listen to your body and feelings. What makes you feel sad, angry or happy? When do you feel ill or the healthiest?
- Meditate. This is a seriously underutilized technique.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Try to see and love yourself and others as if you would see and love our creator.
- Be positive and mindful with your thoughts and intentions. This book can help you.
- Acknowledge that you are a spiritual being in a physical body.
- Pray, yes pray! In whatever way you like.
- Read more and read things about different religions and spirituality. Even spiritual sayings can lead you down the spiritual path. Try starting with Tao Te Ching to get your spiritual juices flowing.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Check something off that bucket list.
- Work on being self-aware and your emotional intelligence.
- Ponder things like, what is the purpose of life, what is consciousness, what am I meant to do in this life, and other difficult questions.
- Look for signs, angel numbers, feathers, coincidences, etc. Learn about what people think they signify.
- Learn about the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thinking. Dive deep into this topic.
- Learn about chakras and meridians.
- Learn about frequencies, vibrations and energy.
- Pay attention to your dreams, instincts and intuitions. Trust your instincts always, you have them for a reason.
- Connect with animals and nature. Try grounding today…it’s free!
- Learn about holistic and more natural ways of living, then try a few things.
- Binge on YouTube documentaries and videos about spirituality. Spirit Science has some easy-to-follow videos. Gaia videos are also very interesting (and possibly send you down some weird rabbit holes).
- Learn about alternative practices like acupuncture and floating.
- Explore ancient ways, traditions and practices that can still be used today.
- Research philosophers and deep thinkers. Some, like Terence McKenna, even have far out ideas worth considering.
- Search for hidden history and cover-ups. Have you heard of the Gnostics? Have your heard of the Emerald tablets or the Book of Enoch? I hadn’t until recently and they are food for thought. Always be skeptical but open. Many of the parts about females’ roles throughout history were either removed or never included in textbooks and religious texts. The government has scientific “proof” that remote viewing is real. I’ve seen the unclassified CIA documents (Project Stargate and Project Sun Streak) that have been released. Again, are they real or “fakes” to keep people from knowing something else? You can decide for yourself.
- Consider strange theories like the “universe is experiencing itself” theory or “simulation” theory. This rabbit hole is a bottomless pit.
- Be alone with your thoughts.
- Align yourself with other like-minded beings.
- Take everything with a grain of salt, do your own research and open your mind to all possibilities. If you try to disprove something, you might just prove it.
Is religion wrong? What is religion getting right?
No, religion is not wrong. Who knows, maybe one single religion is getting it completely right as I mentioned above. I am in no way saying people who follow religions are wrong or bad. There are many positive aspects of religion. There are many, many people who are extremely caring, understanding and non-judgmental that follow their religions very stringently. Religion helps to bring people together, provides positive guidelines to live a meaningful and happy life, and provides a community and charity around the world. Religion also helps many families, those in despair and the elderly, as well as those in crisis.
Following a religion may actually be good for your health as it has been shown to improve blood pressure, improve immunity, helps people to manage depression and reduces stress. I would assume being spiritual on any level would actually improve both your mental and physical health. Luckily with both religion and spirituality you will have a sense of belonging and a higher power watching over your and guiding you. Additionally, religion and spirituality encourage people to give their problems over to their creator and allow things to work out the way they are supposed to. In essence we are not alone and can trust that something has got our back. Either way you go, having a religion and being spiritual are both good for your mind, body and soul, so long as you stay true to your own beliefs and aren’t just following somebody else’s way of being just because they told you that is the only way to live. You can be religious and spiritual at the same time.
My goal is always to provide information and ideas with the hopes that you will do your own research and learning going forward. I’d love to hear how being religious or spiritual has made a difference in your life. Now…let’s all just love one another regardless of our beliefs already…sheesh!
Things Always Get Better - I have truly lived. I’ve had good times and bad times. I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister, a psych nurse and a soon to be wife. I love writing about my passions, what interest me, what interests others, and sharing all of my thoughts with my readers. I want everyone to have the chance to live their happiest life. This blog is truly my own little passion project, gaining more and more traction each day. I hope you enjoy browsing my site and all of the unique content I have to offer. Take a look around; perhaps you’ll discover what fuels you as well. Read on and enjoy!
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