In the beginning….. (pun intended) all I wanted to do was discuss from my personal perspective what I felt was a topic of interest; What is Religious versus Spiritual? I have come to understand that people could be Religious without necessarily being Spiritual and that people touting that they were “Spiritual not Religious” may not necessarily be correct in that statement but perhaps they are more seeking Spirituality instead of Religion but all of this was going to require some explanation. So I decided to start with what I felt was at the core of the word “Religious”, which is dogma, and from there the can of worms opened up. That plus searching for what others had written on this same subject seemed to be coming up short for me so I set off to “fill in the gaps” and now I am finally writing Part 3 of what’s turned out to be an expansive discussion of this topic. In order to assist the conclusions I’m making here, I’m including recaps of Parts 1 & 2 (along with some additional commentary) but at the same time am suggesting that you take the time to read them in their entirety as they both comprehensively contribute to the final conclusions I’m making.
If you have not done so, please read Part 1 before reading Part 2.
If you have read Part 1 and found it to be thought provoking, get ready to get your mental socks blown off!! There is a high probability with this post that you’re going to be shaking your head in disbelief and saying “No way is this true!“, which by the way is a common reaction when people’s beliefs are being seriously challenged. This is why the previous post delved into the various areas that I have come to realize are involved in Truth Seeking.
The next level of Truth is just below your current level of Truth and upon your initial arrival there it’s going to be confusing and sometimes hard to accept.
During the ensuing days after 9/11 the one thing that a lot of Americans did was to reinforce their Patriotism by displaying the flag and saying “God Bless America”. From my perspective, the blessings of God are bestowed upon you continually without fail, 24/7, whether you are asking for it or not. Why? God so loves his children that not loving them is never a consideration.
As a parent, when your child does something wrong, do you stop loving them? You may not agree with what they are doing and even attempt to circumvent it, but ceasing the act of love is not a consideration. Being made in the image of God, then it follows that God does this on an even more expansive level.
I tried to convey to some that the fact that the presence of God is in your life with or without the asking. In other words you cannot not have the presence of God in your life that it is actually impossible to disconnect from God. Hence there is never a reason to ask for Blessings that have continually flowed into your life without ever having to ask for them. All I got in response to this was the “deer in the headlights” look because the big question that resulted from all of this was “How God could let this happen?”
Let’s go back to the parent analogy.
I’m sure that your initial thought upon seeing the title of this post was something related to the word “blasphemous”. How could anyone state that a day that claimed so many lives via such a hideous event could contain hidden elements of Spirituality? Of course there were the continuous comments made by certain facets of the Christian community that this was God’s punishment for our secular lives. Personally, I never bought into that. I have a much deeper yet controversial view of that which I will explain in Part 2.
Sometime shortly after the initial affect settled down I had a revelation about the Big Picture of this day. The statement I’m about to make is going to address something most people don’t ever think about in their day to day lives. It is a known concept in the area of Jungian psychology called The Collective Unconscious but as far as your day to day vocabulary it is non-existent because as a general rule, the general populace doesn’t think outside of its immediate boxes. There is nothing wrong with that because It Is What It Is Until It Isn’t.
I have only briefly studied Carl Jung but intend to do more because I see his work as the foundation of the Human Trinity that consists of the Conscious, Sub Conscious, and Super Conscious and from the little that I’ve studied contains deeply Spiritual indications. The little that I have come to understand of this in relation to Spirituality is that no part of the Spirit is Unconscious as in unaware; hence I refer it to as The Collective Consciousness or The Collective in short. Because the Spirit exists in the Unseen and people generally accept the edict that if you can’t see it then it doesn’t exist, then that which pertains to the Spiritual Consciousness resides in our unseen or unconscious minds. Enough of the psycho spiritual babble for now.
The revelation I mentioned previously in connection to The Collective comes from watching all of the television coverage during the attacks, subsequent destruction of the WTC towers and the aftermath of the experience. Many people were looking to God for the answers as to how this could happen to us. At that point I realized that from the perspective of The Collective that there were a huge number of people in a single incident turning to God, regardless of how that God is defined (I’ve already discussed the My God Your God stuff). If you think about this for a moment in relation to The Collective, it then ends up being the most spiritual moment in the entire history of mankind, namely because the population of the Earth in conjunction with the technology connected the entire planet to this incident.
So now that I’ve got you thinking about this in conjunction to the affect it had on The Collective Consciousness, what does it mean? Continue reading
This is a continuing conversation, therefore it is important that you read Religious versus Spirituality Part 1 before reading this post.
A few days before writing this I received an email from a friend with two USA Today articles on this type of subject. The first USA Today article is called, “Religious Americans: My faith isn’t the only way” and the second one is called, “Survey: More have dropped dogma for spirituality in U.S.” (note: take a look at the fascinating survey results). It’s interesting to note that the oldest one has ZERO comments where the one on dogma and spirituality has, at the time this is being written, 1,791 (updated 9/10/08) comments. Obviously the latter has gotten the attention of a large group of people.
I read several pages of the comments and the fascinating thing is that they are very similar to the type of comments written in reaction to the YouTube “Church of Oprah” with the main difference being more comments from the “other side”. It’s also very interesting that the first article has absolutely no reaction but in just over 24 hrs there has been an average of one comment per minute (assuming no one is sleeping). Why? It comes right back to The Believing vs. The Feeling that I originally discussed in my post “The Church of Oprah vs Christianity“. The first article is about how my way is not the same as your way. Okay, big deal, we see that all the time. The second article is about people turning away from dogma, the cornerstone of ANY religion and turning to this nebulous thing called Spirituality. So again, The Believing is being attacked here, even though it’s in a more mundane fashion than the Oprah YouTube phenomenon which was more attacking so it could promote a book. This article is only publishing the results of a survey but perhaps the reactions are forcing the readers to re-evaluate their Believing when there are statistics that challenge the dogma that supports their Believing. In other words, “Why are so many leaving dogma and turning to spirituality?”
Taking all of this into the context of what it means to be “spiritual” with dogma being used as the basis of the definition, it not only puts dogma into the realm of a personal opinion but also being religious or spiritual as a personal experience. This then takes us back to the comment in my first post about The Believing and The Feeling. Believing is based on thoughts and Feeling on emotions. As in language, we both can decide that what we see in the distance is a tree, but that does not say that we will ever fully agree on exactly how we feel about that tree. For example, perhaps that tree looks a lot like the tree one of them fell out of as a child and severely broke a limb, where for the other it looks just like the tree where he/she first made love. Both people are looking at exactly the same tree, but are having entirely different emotional reactions, which again points to experience affects how you feel about what you see which in turn can affect your Beliefs.
Taking this to the altar of religion, two people can be within not only the same religion but also part of the same physical church and neither of them may fully agree on how they FEEL about God. In this case The Believing is fundamentally the same but the resulting Feeling may not ever truly match and again be based on previous personal experiences. As a result the dogma, principles or doctrines of a religion are normally vigorously and clearly stated to ensure that the resulting feeling is as much the same as possible (did you know that nothing in the Bible could be questioned until the early 1900’s?). The congregation of a religion then looks to a main figure of Authority to bestow upon it The Believing in such a way as to ensure they all feel the same way and if ever doubted The Dogma is then reiterated to bring the correct Feeling into the religious commonality. You see this quite clearly in the “Church of Oprah” comments and ensuing video responses. The Dogma is being reiterated over and over and over again. When this is being done by the main figure of Authority it ensures that The Believing is legitimized which then reconnects to The Feeling the congregation has come to know as a result of The Believing as stated in their Dogmatic Doctrines.
An excellent example of this is one of the “Church of Oprah” response videos. Continue reading