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Glenn (Radagast97)09-13-2006 08:00 [E,W]
Though religion and spirituality can be separated, I tend to define religion, at least as it is intended, as an organized spiritual tradition. True, many have not wished to exert themselves to find the spirituality within their own religion, just as students often don't use the opportunity of an education to really sharpen their abilities to think. That doesn't mean it's not part of any religious tradition I can think of.

Having been raised Christian, but am now Buddhist, it is easy to see how my religious practices wouldn't really fall into the definition of Religion, for most Christians. But, labels are irrelavent. It is what it is and has a value to me. There are those, having studied my religion from a academic perspective which consider it a philosophy. I see this just as erroneous as believing Zen has a supreme being, prayer, required beliefs, and many of the things typical of Judeo-Christian faiths.

One thing I do see with people who are spiritual, whether independently, or in an organized religion - something shared strongly in the practice of Zen, their search for truth is their own, not something merely accepted on a platter and swallowed whole. It is something which requires thought and analysis, not memorization. For something to become spiritual, it has to become intimately a person's own. It's not something which can be given, it must be searched for and discovered.
Alan09-12-2006 08:17 [E,W]
Thanks for a good, intelligent article. As I see it, the religion/spirituality divide is about this: religion is something from outside that you take within; spirituality is something that you find inside and take out. It's the difference between *being* taught and *doing* your learning.

Both are necessary and important, both are fraught with traps and pitfalls.

I get very impatient with the sillinesses that some "spiritual" people take on board. But in the end, I think that the spiritual way is the better one if you put them on a balance and weigh them.

I think this is true for two reasons: utilitarian, and absolute.

Utilitarian: My experience is that "spiritual" people are generally happier, better adjusted, and easier to get along with than "religious" people. (There are many exceptions of course, present company included!) Moreover, do-it-yourself "spiritual" people are much more likely to be tolerant of others and their beliefs, peaceful individually -- and when in groups and societies, less likely to start social conflicts and wars.

Strongly religious people are behind many of the wars in history -- and *most* of the wars happening today -- and probably most future wars too, now that the world's material needs are fairly well provided for and seizing the neighbor tribe's land is not essential for preventing your tribe's starvation. Thinking that God has revealed the One True Way to you and your tribe is the kind of thinking that could exterminate the whole modern world, now that our weapons have advanced from spears to H-bombs with no end in sight.

So much for the utilitarian side. As for determining matters of absolute truth, I think that the organic process of continual investigation, evaluation, rejection, and reinvestigation -- in other words, do-it-yourselfing, whether by an individual or by a whole culture -- is the only process that gets very far in the long run. This is because it is evolutionary in nature and allows for future advances. ("Revelation is not sealed," to use a UU catch-phrase.)

Long-established religions have accumulated a vast store of wisdom and traditions, but as soon as they think they have the Truth, the process of inquiry and discovery stops, and new discoveries are squelched. In time the whole effort becomes one of perpetuating a particular frozen state from the past, which in time means having to perpetuate things that are more and more obviously false. Which leads to all the mental turmoil and fragmention and psychoses that "doublethink" engenders. Most religions passed that point ages ago.

Gee, this got a lot longer than I expected!
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