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.
Recap of Part 1 – “Dogma” first appears to be at the core of what’s used to define the word “Religious” because it determines what “faith” you follow as in Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Native American, etc. Dogma much of the time is assumed to be “law” because in the various definitions of it you find “authoritatively laid down “ or “set forth in an authoritative manner” not to mention “considered to be absolutely true” yet if you look at it from the Etymology perspective (aka the root origins of the word) you consistently find “philosophical tenet”. My old yellowing Random House dictionary says it the best for the meaning of tenet, “A belief or theory held as true.” Tenet also appears quite frequently in the various definitions of dogma I found along with “doctrine” and “code”. I originally summed it up as follows, “These (definitions) have used the words “system”, “specific”, “authoritatively laid down”, “prescribed”, “settled or established”, “doctrines….morality and faith”, “principle or belief”. Sounds pretty concrete, yet in the (other) definitions…it is stated more tenuous using “proclaimed as true without proof” and “accepted as authoritative”.” Think about it for a minute and realize that thousands of people have died at the hands of “dogma” because my dogma is better than your dogma because it has been “authoritatively declared” as the “official word of God”. Yet when adding all of the root elements to the various meanings you get that dogma is “A philosophical belief, principle, theory, established opinion, or doctrine held, established, prescribed, and proclaimed to be absolutely true without proof and accepted as authoritatively laid down as by a church relating to matters such as morality and faith.” So many meanings so little time for understanding.
Recap of Part 2 – My initial 30 mins of poking around online for the meaning and root origin of dogma showed me, to my surprise, just how subjective it really is and from there it’s not much of a stretch to say that the various versions of how dogma is used is done to suit the specific needs of each religion. This then forced me to ask the question of who’s doing the thinking when it comes to Religion, you or the dogma. Not only that but from a comment I made in my blog post, “Oprah vs Christianity” about The Believing versus The Feeling that when relating it to dogma the conclusion is if The Dogma is doing the thinking for you, then it’s also doing the feeling for you and now that brings into question of who’s really in control of how you feel about God. This is particularly true when you consider that the veracity of many faiths is not allowed to be questioned. For example I’ve read that the Bible was not allowed to be questioned until the early 1900’s and to some degree many still never really do. As a result of my own personal experience in conjunction with what I’ve witnessed with others, more and more people seem to be concluding that their innate feelings of The Divine are not in alignment with what their traditional dogma has been telling them and the bravest of those are seeking answers outside of their previously established dogmas. This why Part 2 focused on the discussion of why so many are leaving “dogma” and turning to “spirituality”.
The core of Part 2 centered around how The Feeling and The Believing can create conflicts in those that attain a personal relationship with The Divine that slowly begins to conflict with the teachings of The Dogma but the fear of ridicule or even banishment can cause much stress with many either remaining quiet or “adjusting” themselves accordingly in order to fit within the mainstream The Dogma requires (is it any wonder why sheep, shepherd and flock are used?). One of the most commonly cited conflicts in Christianity is how can a loving God have such wrath and vengeance? Or how can a loving Father send his only begotten Son to his death in order to redeem the world of its sins through his blood? Yes, there are many answers to these questions much of the time citing The Dogma as the source of the answer but for many this ends up not being enough in the long run. This is demonstrated by a growing number of seekers looking for something more in response to their questions that their original Dogma just isn’t sufficiently answering (see survey in Part 2). The conflict comes from The Believing being the determinant for The Feeling when in actuality it is not required because The Feeling is innate and requires no dogma for its existence.
Part 3 – For me it again comes down to the emotional connection you make. When you have made an undeniable connection with The All That Is, you will obtain a sense of the Unconditional Love that is within The All That Is, regardless of how you choose to see it. It is from this place that I’m making the distinction between The Believing versus The Feeling. I realized after many years of seeking that The Divine will appear to you in the form you need to see him/her/it. If that is a White Man with a White Robe, White Beard, and White Hair what I like to call “The 4 W’s God” then that is how The Divine will appear to you. If you need to see The Divine as a burning bush; then so be it. If you need to see The Divine as The Great Spirit; then so be it. In other words all that is required is the emotional connection to The Divine and the form it takes is irrelevant because it’s all about THE FEELING!!! Because I no longer adhere to any kind of pre-established dogma, I choose to see The Divine as The Formless Form. It is an essence, an energy that is everywhere at once. It is in All Things, at All Times, in All Places. There is nowhere it is not. I have recently seen The Divine referred to as “The Isness” a version of which I’ve also used in the past.
What I have come to realize about the difference between Religious and Spiritual is that you can be Religious and not Spiritual or Religious and Spiritual. There are also those who say they are “Spiritual not Religious” but in essence many are really seeking the Spiritual in lieu of Religious if for no other reason than The Dogma has become insufficient in answering the Call of their Hearts. The difference in all of these is determined by the emotional connection. The very first time I got to experience this was at my second Firewalk 16 yrs ago. A young woman showed up who was a devout Christian. She walked the fire with no incident and claimed it was her faith and love for Jesus that got her through it. I, on the other hand, had gotten an intense blister on my previous Firewalk from which I learned to “Get out of my head and into my Heart” as that was the cause behind how it happened. I was pissed that this “First Timer” who hadn’t done all the things I had done got through it with such ease. I was, of course, in Judgment of her and had to admit it during the Firewalk. What I eventually realized years later was that her emotional connection is what gave her the “Faith of Protection”. Over the past 16 years being involved with energy work, I’ve developed the ability to “sense” people. As a result of that, even though I may have absolutely no reference to The Believing that someone is adhering to, I can sense that The Feeling it produces in them is the same or similar to the one I feel. This then allowed me to see differences in how I was coming to understand The Divine in comparison to those that were following some kind of Religion and from that I eventually realized that difference was based on the emotional connection. Everyone who is intimately connected to their faith has an emotional connection but too often it contains Judgment, many times thanks to both The Dogma and the ensuing ego reactions, which I’ve discovered affects the overall connection. This is why I say that “Judgment is the unwillingness to accept another unconditionally” and why I believe it is one of the core elements of what differentiates Religious versus Spiritual. Any unwillingness to accept another unconditionally is directly related to your unwillingness to see The Divine in another and in turn your Self if for no other reason than “We Are All One”. Once I realized this I vehemently searched and removed any and all Judgments I had. Today I can feel when I’m in Judgment of another and then have to make a choice as to what I will do about it which more often than not involves me looking to where I’m sharing the same energy that my Judgment is projecting onto this person. Once I discover that, the Judgment immediately dissolves and is replaced by Unconditional Love for that person.
Regardless of the ascribed dogma or not, those that have come to understand the Unconditional Love of The Divine then not only see but feel and live that unconditionality as the Oneness in All Things; you no longer see or feel any separation. You know that we are all connected and what you do to another you so do to your Self, what I have come to call “The Golden Rule v2.0”. When you come to understand this you cannot hate another for then you are hating your Self. You cannot bring harm to another because you are bringing harm to your Self. Essentially you see, feel, and live that ALL life is precious and from there you honor and respect the Sanctity and Sovereignty of ALL Life. This then becomes easy to discern because your actions speak louder than your words because they are being supported by your emotional connection to The Divine. It purely becomes a way of Being.
So take a look around you and in the world in general. Where do you see Spirituality in Action? Is it in the acquisition of Wealth and Power via Endless Greed in the Wealthy, Ultra Wealthy, Global Elite or whatever you want to call them? No because absolute power corrupts absolutely and when the Sanctity and Sovereignty of human life is superseded for wealth and power there is no essence of Spirituality there. Is it in someone who will kill another in the name of whatever their god is? Absolutely not because the dogma of these religions has ascended up into the ranks of the ego which then isolates them from the others as the ego loves a good separation due to its “better than” nature. Is it in another who condemns you to hell or won’t talk to you because you don’t follow the path of “the one true god”? Absolutely not because when The Divine is in All Things, at All Times, in All Places there is no where The Divine is not. This is why in Part 2 I quoted Ex. #29 from A Course in Miracles, “God is in everything I see”. This means that The Divine is contained within the totality of the diversity of All Life, a concept that many have a hard time seeing at its extreme levels. The Divine awaits you through the connection of your Heart. If you haven’t done so yet then what are you waiting for?!?! The Christian Dogma says it very succinctly, “Seek and ye shall find; knock and it is answered.” It is there for the taking and all you have to do is open your closed Heart and the wonders of the Unconditional Love of The Divine will greet and embrace you. Let it find you without any others telling you what or how and in that you will completely and fully establish your own personal connection that will be unlike any others because pure and simply it is your connection and that is a wondrous thing indeed!!! I was told many years ago that I have a “Customized Spirituality” and I wouldn’t have it any other way as it allows my Heart to seek this emotional connection to The Divine (aka The Feeling) in any and all ways using whatever tools are at or will be at my disposal. When The Divine is The Infinite then this is a never ending process of unfoldment into and towards The Infinite Unconditional Love of The Divine. Every day brings yet another opportunity for discovery. Now go and find it for your Self!!!
BE THE MIRACLE!