A THOUGHT FOR 2015: Is Religion Good for You? 18/5/15
Religion should be the collective or community sharing of our spirituality. It performs this important role in civilisation, because otherwise we would become a collection of solitary mystics expressing our spirituality individually. Too often, though, religion becomes politicised and divorced from spirituality.
Spirituality is different from religion. It has no organisation or doctrines. It is part of the human psyche. It is everyone’s natural connection with the wonder and energy of life, and the instinct to explore that experience and its meaning. Spirituality is about the expression of compassion and consciousness in both heart and mind – love in action.
The terms holism and spirituality are closely related – the more one is connected, the greater the potential for one’s spiritual awareness. The terms holism and holistic (Goethe’s terms) came into common use in the 1990s. Holism sees everything as being connected, each influencing everything else at some level. Most technologies (e.g. GM agriculture, fossil fuel energies, drug-based medicine, (yes – even GPS) are anti-holistic, isolating and anti-Nature. Holism is a condition in which all is one great interconnection.
I believe you can increase awareness of your spirituality by being more present and attentive, doing natural things and connecting with Nature. Celtic Christianity recognised Nature as Sacred and as the mirror of God on Earth. This is a more feminine expression – Nature as our Mother. I do believe Jesus had a divine nature, but I do not acknowledge him as the Son of God. I do not quite see his relationship to Gaia, our parent. You might call me an agnostic Christian. I believe it is a kind of reverse hubris to treat God or the Christ as a person.
I was brought up in the Church of Scotland which has less dogma and is less hierarchical than the Anglican Church. The only words we said together were The Lord’s Prayer. But both forms of service, including the prayers, are full of sayings about Jesus and the Christian message that I don’t agree with. There is growing interest in a more secular (and mature? ) form of belief which allows one to express and experience one’s own needs.
Contemplation has always been part of normal spiritual expression. There is now more interest in meditation, which is contemplation with more structure and often with an interest in group sharing.
Many spiritual traditions believe that we have a God connection in our nature. In my training as a Transpersonal Psychology therapist 48 years ago, we heard that there are different levels of spirit within us, from practical intuition to the Divine. We learned how to contact our Over-Soul or Higher Self, the source of our intuition and inner wisdom. I have found this a tremendous help throughout my life.
Over the ages, religion has been the way that humanity has expressed its need for connection with the Divine. But it has a negative side: it has become a scourge and divisive of society. Wars have been fought by those who claim that their religion, with its specific doctrines, was the only true one, and that God was on their side. Millions have been butchered in the name of religion. We have seen an explosion of Islamic extremism (jihadism) in recent years which has destabilised several Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinent countries. Besides, both Islam and Christianity are male-centred organisations, relying on doctrines and beliefs and the Bible or the Koran as Holy Writ.
While many receive comfort and reassurance from their faith and from going to church, countless others are caught in disruption or conflict, usually based on fundamentalist beliefs and adherence to literal biblical or Koranic interpretation.