Can a Person Have a Spirituality Without Religion?

Since the time when spirituality has been contrasted with religion more and more persons have opted to be spiritual without religion. They want a spirituality without religion. In a recent survey in the United States 33 percent said that they were spiritual but not religious. So the question many people ask now is: Can a person have a spirituality without religion?

Before I give my answer to that question there is a need for me to clarify these two terms, spirituality and religion.

Spirituality is a quality of life wherein the invisible realities take the priority. These invisible realities include the source of everything there is, the working out of this source in our life and in the world around us, the conflict between the good and evil around us, the desires of all created and uncreated realities.

Religion is a system of doctrine, morality and rituals by which human beings try to make meaning out of life.

The system of doctrine is expressed in a creed or in a summary of basic teachings, such as the Apostles’ Creed for Christians or the Four Basic Truths for Buddhists. Its system of morality is in a list of laws to govern one’s conduct, written or unwritten, such as the Ten Commandments for the Jews and Christians, or the Eightfold Path for Buddhists. Its rituals are prescribed actions by which people may have contact with God like sacrifices and prayers, such as the sacraments for Christians or meditations for Buddhists.

When we ask therefore whether a person can have spirituality without religion we want to know whether a person can give priority to the invisible realities of life without having a system of doctrine, morality and rituals.

The answer is a big “Yes”. A person can live on a spiritual level without the crutches of religion.

An Example

According to Robert Putnam and David Campbell in their book AMERICAN GRACE, HOW RELIGION DIVIDES AND UNITES US, the sudden rise of persons who are spiritual without religion is the most significant trend in the US religious landscape in the last 50 years. These persons are labeled Nones (for persons who want to have “none” of the religious trappings). A most typical example of a None is the singer Sahffi Lynne. She never affiliated with a church, in fact never went to a church on her own. She never learned a code of conduct. She never went through a series of actions to reach God. And yet she is spiritual. Her music is a testimony to her spirituality.

The fact that more and more people are becoming less religious and more spiritual, that is, that we have more and more Nones in our society, is proof enough that a person can have a spirituality without religion.

Many books have already been written about this phenomenon, such as SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS: UNDERSTANDING UNCHURCHED AMERICA by Robert C. Fuller, and SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS: A CALL TO RELIGIOUS REVOLUTION IN AMERICA by Sven E. Erlandson.

A Clarification

There have been studies purporting to prove that to be spiritual without religion leads to mental imbalance. An instance of these studies is the one published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Michael King of the University College London and his colleagues.

These studies confuse spirituality with spiritualism, a system of spiritual beliefs and practices trying to contact and manipulate spirits, such as in seances.

Genuine spirituality has nothing to do with spiritualism. Spiritualism can indeed lead to mental imbalance, seeing things that are not there, imposing one’s views on others. True spirituality leads to an integral life, one that balances the activities of the body, mind and spirit. Those studies by Michael King are on spiritualism, not spirituality. A person can really have spirituality without religion.

Spirituality – Religion

Increasing numbers of people in the developed world consider themselves spiritual without belonging to a religion. Some of the dominant world religions believe there is no spiritual life outside their confines. Let’s take some time now then to explore the differences between spirituality and religion.

Both spirituality and religion, at a core level are about our relationship with God, the Divine, the Mystery or Absolute truth, by whatever name you give it. From my point of view the similarities end here.

Spirituality as I see it is an innate dimension to our existence and our relationship with the Mystery of life. Religions are manmade structures that seek to define and control our spiritual nature. Religion used to be a cultures one size fits all spirituality and in many parts of the world still are. Spirituality is personal, fluid and evolving. Religions are constructed with rigid and moralized belief systems.

Religion is based on faith and accepted beliefs which define the parameters of what is allowed to be believed. Ideas and beliefs beyond these boundaries are often considered heresy and usually punishable one way or another, even with death. Religion has strict codes of what is right and wrong and applicable punishments in both this life and beyond. This polarized moralizing of human behavior is a system of control based on fear. Neitzsche pointedly dispelled this cannon of religious dogma when he said “there are no moral phenomena only the moral interpretation of phenomena”.

What is amazing is that despite all of this there are people who are able to find authentic spirituality within the confines of their accepted religion.

Spirituality tends to be independent of religious doctrine and belief systems, although most people who consider themselves spiritual and not religious construct a belief system that they feel comfortable with. If this personal spiritual belief system becomes inflexible and rigid it can be as limiting to spiritual development as those of religion, though less likely to fill you with fear, guilt and shame.

The human mind creates systems of belief one way or another. The majority of these beliefs are received as conditioning from the culture that we grow up in. Spiritual development can be seen as a process of freeing ourselves from the conditioned state of the mind and therefore a limited experience of self. For it is beyond the conditioned state of mind that we experience the Mystery of the Divine. In the depths of this experience of Self beyond mind the boundaries of separation dissolve and the Self is experienced as One with the Divine. This process of spiritual evolution into awakening is the very nature of life itself.

Religion being manmade, being made in the consciousness of separation, places the divine outside of ourselves. This is true even when the source of the religion taught the spiritual truth of unity with God. Christianity is a great example. Jesus in his teaching clearly said that the kingdom of heaven is within all of us. How then did it become a place where God lives and we go where we go after we’re dead if we’ve been good and lived by the prescribed rules?

One answer is that spiritual teachers like Jesus spoke from a more evolved state of consciousness, and those who came after them and formulated religion in their name, were of a less evolved level of consciousness, and interpreted the teachings from this low level of consciousness thus distorting it.

Another interpretation is that religion was identified as a means of controlling an entire population of people, and its teachings were distorted to this end. Taking Christianity is an example again it seems quite apparent to me that both these interpretations are aspects of how Christianity became what it is today. Don’t think so? Well how is it that hundreds of years of war and countless atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, when pretty much all religions hold a core tenant of Thou shalt not kill, and Do onto others as you would have them do unto you, or the like?

Spirituality in its nature requires the questioning of beliefs, which tends to set it at odds with religion. Professing being spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean that we do question our beliefs, but freed from the confines of religious dogma, life will inevitably provide the circumstances for us to more readily do so. Accepting this opportunity to keep stepping beyond the boundaries of the identity that we hold, is the means of living spirituality. Spirituality then requires forging your own unique path of awakening to our true nature.

Religion requires conformity, discourages independent thought, self inquiry, it requires followers. That anyone finds spirituality in religion is amazing to me, that they do is testament to the power of truth to shine through. So is religion all bad? No, for clearly many thousands of people are inspired to be of service to their fellows by their religious beliefs. And when religion inspires seeing beyond the appearance of difference and is a vessel from which to expand ones beliefs and seek direct experience of the Mystery that manifest and animates life, then it still serves it’s spiritual purpose and spirituality and religion unite.

Spirituality And Spiritualism

Before I say anything about Spirituality and spiritualism one must first realize that there is a marked difference between religion and spirituality. The immediate difference between religion and spirituality is that while religion is exclusive- in that one has to subscribe to that one religion at the exclusion of all other religions, faiths, and beliefs, spirituality is inclusive in that any one adherent of any religion can embrace spirituality and retain his or her religious status or place in that religion. Spirituality cuts across religious, cultural, traditional, social-political and academic barriers. In other words, one does not need to abandon one’s religion in order to be a devotee, student or practitioner of spirituality. In this way, religions are limiting but spirituality is not. For this reason one can rightly say that compared to religion, spirituality can be said to be the higher state or consciousness of religion. If it were a coin, the religious side bears limitations of beliefs, faith and dogma and the spirituality side is the mark of infinite consciousness and freedom.

“Religion is the manifestation of the divinity which is already present in the human being” said swami Vivekananda. Each soul is potentially divine. To manifest that very divinity within, Man should control his nature externally and internally. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy by one or more or all of these and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines or Dogmas or rituals or books, or temples, or forms, all are but secondary details. The more our bliss is within, the more spiritual we are and let us not depend upon the world of today for pleasure. This is spirituality. Spirituality is one’s character or quality that makes one transcend the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one’s connection with the Truth. Spiritualism means to merge with consciousness. Different religions are like different route or means to reach there. It is like you want to go to Delhi you can go by train, flight, or by bus again you can to Delhi via Ahmedabad, or Via Kolkata, or via Nagpur. You will ultimately reach Delhi. Spirituality is a concept and most of the times it is wrongly understood by us mortals. Some think that spirituality is something to be achieved, which means it is external and is not within. Some think that it is to with prayers and offerings to god.

Spiritual consciousness is a “depth experience, “which makes us conscious of the deeper dimensions of life. It is an abiding inner awareness of the inter connectedness of one’s own spirit with the supreme spirit. It is also a cosmic awareness of “one in all and all in one”. Through spiritual consciousness we learn to look beyond and behind the surface reality. The way to attain this very spiritual consciousness is the way to the liberation of the soul through Self-Knowledge is called yoga. Vedanta speaks of four yogas, or paths to the goal: (i) Jnana-Yoga, or the direct way of Knowledge; (ii) Bhakti-Yoga, or the natural way of divine love; (iii) Karma-Yoga, or the practical way of unselfish work; and (iv) Raja-Yoga, or the scientific way of concentration and meditation. The primary road block to Self-Knowledge is the restless mind. The four Yogas are four ways to overcome the restlessness. Love is the root and the selfless service is the fruit of this very spiritual consciousness or the liberation of the soul.

The essence of every religion, fundamentally, is aimed for the attainment of spiritual enlightenment, spiritual consciousness proximity to God, love, compassion, and eternal peace in the life here after. Under such a common definition and understanding, it becomes obvious that religion is bound to be deeply a personal matter in every sense of the word. On the contrary, if religion assumes the characteristics of a doctrine that is primarily concerned with issuing laws on how to offer prayers and how many times, people’s wealth and its distribution, dress code, sex life, punishment for crimes etc, then the whole concept of spirituality loses its Godly element. A religion of such nature, then simply becomes part of human civilization, a political ideology for a group of people who choose to follow a certain social orders and customs. Then we as humans go far away from spirituality and spiritualism. Spirituality is one’s character or quality that makes one transcend the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one’s connection with the Truth. At this point I would like to say a few words about Islam which is the second largest religion in the world. Does Islam allow an individual’s quest for the knowledge of the existence of God on a personal level, using his own intellect, senses, and wisdom? The answer is a big NO! A Muslim is bound to restrict his freedom of conscience within the frame of Quranic prescriptions.

The moment he has questions on metaphysical issues, he is considered an outcast or an apostate. People of other religions, including Christianity and Hinduism has already started shedding their inhibitions or political correctness and are not reluctant to cast their doubts about the origins and contemporary relevance of religious scriptures and belief systems. No authority is interested in issuing “fatwas” against them. But Islam is different. As time passes, Imams and Islamic clergies are becoming more and more powerful enough to tighten their noose around the freedom of thought. In my capacity as a crew flying for an international airline I have been to Jeddah and medina to ferry passengers for annual hajj pilgrimage umpteen number of times. The one thing that I have noticed is that, Medina is a very holy place and the presence of the power that be can be felt and it really makes one self spiritual because there is a flow of positivity of the place to oneself. This flow creates wonder when assimilated. It makes one self humble, It calms the inner aggression of one self, It helps to be in a meditative state where one’s mind becomes thoughtless and one attains spirituality momentarily. Such is the power, or one may say, the quality of that place. The pilgrims returning from this place after the end of the arduous 40days hajj starts squabbling as soon as they board the aircraft over trivialities. I wonder why they cannot bring with them the positive energy and all that they have learnt and practiced for the 40 long days. Somehow and somewhere the concept of spiritual and spirituality is lost.

In predominant Western religions the Divine is worshiped as Father but not as Mother. This heavenly Father is often portrayed as a stern, angry or jealous God, a strict judge and giver of punishment to those of his children who violate his seemingly arbitrary laws. Protestant Christianity and Islam have banished the Divine Mother from their religions. Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christianity have accepted the feminine as the mother of Jesus, not as God in her own right, though it appears that devotion to the Madonna has been the strongest living mystical force within Christianity. Sanatana Dharma as a universal tradition recognizes the importance of the Divine Mother. According to Hinduism the deepest relationship that we can have with God is that of the Mother. No human relationship is closer than that of the mother and child. It best mirrors our relationship with God. India itself is looked upon as the Mother. The Hindu religion itself is regarded as a mother and its teachings are her milk.

Sanatan dharma, The backbone of Hinduism is basically a way of life based on nature and universe where every particle that constitute the universe and nature has a soul and is connected to the divine and hence everything has to be respected and revered. Sanatan dharma developed over time and there is no one person or a startup date for this religion. It is based on observations of heavenly bodies and their characters and the effect that it has on the population, environment, and behavioral patterns of each and every particle that constitutes nature and universe. This Sanatan Dharma is what the western scholars call as paganism.

The concept of Spirituality and spiritualism should therefore be that every person is a wondrous, sacred, creation. Every plant, rock, tree, everything seen and unseen, is unique and beautiful. The purpose of life as seen should therefore be to live in harmony with nature, to develop our personal and spiritual potential, and to be aware of and to manifest the inherent divinity within us all. This holds true for every one and for every religion. Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Bahai, Christianity, every other religion the concept of spirituality is no different.

Spirituality is a matter of contemplative meditation designed to bring the practitioner to the point of vacating his physical body at will, merge his mind into Universal Mind realm and remain in his or her pure spiritual form as a Spirit (of God) in its pristine nature and then traverse higher spiritual planes until one re-merges into divine union with the Supreme Being and become one with that Being even as one still dwells in this world doing his work and taking care of family and social responsibilities.

Religion, Spirituality, Health and Women

Today’s woman plays many roles in her daily life. She is a mother, a wife, a caretaker, a business runner, a first aid giver and lots more. She is the one who organizes parties; she attends PTAs that most fathers miss, she runs a tight ship in the office. With her hands full 24×7 she manages to do exactly what she is supposed to do and what she wants to do. She multi tasks better than most billionaire CEOs. Amidst all this, where she is a superhero, she often tends to ignore her own health and personal well-being. Now a superhero can’t do much good when unhealthy.

Women’s Health comprises of all health issues and problems that needs attention. From reproductive health to mental health to emotional health to giving you an insight on how to keep your bones healthy and your heart happy, to knowing your body better, you need to take care of all. Being total solutions machines, you need to care about each and every running part of that machine.

One of the things that dramatically change women’s attitude towards their own health-care is the factor of religion and spirituality. Interestingly, most women seem to be following some sort of health regime -gluten-free, low crab, low sugar, high protein, vegan, or something else. In our endless march toward physical fitness, we try exercise, supplements, vitamin shakes, and nutritionist-endorsed meal plans. We pay too much attention to what we should eat and what we shouldn’t, little do we bother about what’s good or bad for our soul. There is a difference between managing your outward manners and managing your inward sentiments, and both affect one’s soul in ways more diverse and complex than one tends to understand.

Recently, I began to understand more clearly how the said combination of health, religion and spirituality worked for women. I have found out that religion helps followers engage in healthier lifestyle practices on a general basis. All religions teach not to drink, smoke or engage in other unhealthy habits. People tend to drink less alcohol, smoke less, and have healthier habits overall. Spirituality gives a mirror for the soul. Spirituality helps followers examine their emotions and mindfully witness their own fleeting feelings. Ultimately it helps us have a calmer outlook, lower blood pressure, and a more even-hands on approach to dealing with life’s challenges.

Religion and Spirituality offer a number of diverse paths for accessing the life’s concealed and unparalleled parts and redemption. Religion and spirituality work together to create individuals of healthier mind, body, and spirit. Indian culture contains a number of ancient texts of Vedas, Upanishads and others which give a detailed measure for women’s physical health, social conduct and family duties. The Atharva-Veda also contains a collection of spells and incantations for the practice of magic, contained references to disease, injuries, fertility, sanity, and health. Methods of diagnosis included few indirect rather mystified as well as rational approaches. Omens of various kinds such as the flight of birds, the sounds of nature, and many other observations were interpreted by the physician as clues to the severity of the illness. It could have had something to do with the changes in environment which brings about a great impact on the human behavior. Religious faith gave psychological stability. This ability to believe can be used by health psychologists in medical settings to help those who struggle with a disease or to promote a healthier lifestyle. In our much modern and tech savvy lifestyle what we ultimately need is a touch of religion and spirituality. One that not only provides us the how tos on life but also create a drive inside of us for a more enlightened and prosperous environment.

Society, Religion, Spirituality and Meditation

Meditation is widely used in the western world today. As people hear of the benefits of meditation it has travelled the world several times over under various different names. One thing that we have realised though is that countries like India, China and Japan have always been at the forefront of meditation. Most of the new enlightenment techniques that we are just learning now started in Asia, and often centuries ago. As you can imagine though there are a lot of differences between how people live in Asia and how we live in the West today.Our upbringings are different, our lifestyles are different, and the way we learn and understand is totally alien to the people of Asia. This means that the way our countries understand and accept meditation is also slightly different.

In Asia students of meditation learn the concepts by way of parables or stories. In the West we encourage critical thought. We teach our children how to think with rational, logical minds. Telling stories to explain a thought doesn’t work. We require facts and scientific data. We lose a lot of the meaning behind meditation because of this, and limit ourselves to the depths that we can reach. There is a meditation society in most countries now. This is often the best place to find meditation courses and seminars local to your region.

Religion

Religion has also adapted to encompass meditation practices into it’s daily programme. You can now find meditation exercises adopted to suit Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and many other religions. Some people are still finding resistance using meditation within their specific Church or Temple. While meditation has been accepted by most religions some people are finding it slow to trickle down to the people at the bottom. If you would like to incorporate meditation into your religious practices and are finding it difficult to get information from your local religious centre there are lots of examples and instructions online to show you the best ways to use meditation for your own religious purposes.

Spirituality

Spirituality and the new age movement was one of the first groups of people in the west to adopt and accept meditation practices into their way of life. Spirituality differs from religion in that spiritualists aim to reach a level of happiness in their lives. Religion tends to stick to a set of rules, where as spiritualists will try various different methods to find the path that is right for them. It is a very personal experience and they can use meditation to help them along the path that they have chosen.

It really doesn’t matter why you come to meditation. It is such a simple technique to master that you can adapt it to almost any situation.

Religion, Spirituality, and Intolerance – What Is The Truth?

Religion, spirituality and intolerance hardly seem to belong in the same sentence! Each term seems at odds with the other. Let us reveal the actual truth here and now, resolve the seeming incompatibilities, and uncover real meaning.

Religion, Spirituality, and Intolerance

Religion is man’s codified set of beliefs, traditions and practices relating to the divine. Spirituality is an individual’s quest to experience the divine. Intolerance is the assertion that there is only one way to approach the infinite.

Symbols, Reality and Belief

It is important to distinguish between concept and reality. Our language describes our thoughts, but the thought is never actually the thing it describes. It is a mutually agreed symbol.

So too with belief. In the Greek, belief meant to be firm, constant. My own personal belief is that density and obstinacy are not virtues but impediments to understanding.

Understanding The Infinite

The object of religion and spirituality is understanding the infinite, also described by Paul Tillich as The Ultimate Ground of All Being. We might use terms such as the Absolute, the Real.

We should note right here, that the evidence of the senses, can be misleading. Does the sun rise or the earth rotate? Most of us recognize that modern science has rendered the appearance of solid material objects into something far different.

What Is Truth?

So what is truth? If we begin with this question, we begin correctly, and all beliefs, traditions, practices, rituals, and even intolerance can be understood in the light of a broader understanding.

We should make clear at the beginning, God is not an invisible man in the sky. Our understanding needs to be more genuine if we are to approach reality.

What is reality? Look at the vastness of intergalactic space and time. Remember time and space are concepts, still they are vast. How does our short span of years on this planet fit into the vastness that precedes and succeeds us?

The Nature Of Wholeness

All thought that approaches truth affirms that reality is one, but what is the nature of this One?

Looking only at the surface, some have concluded the nature of reality is material. To those who believe and see this way, only matter is real and substantial. Albert Einstein made a scientific breakthrough that changed the nature of reality and caused textbooks to be re written. Matter could no longer be “neither created nor destroyed” but was found to be bound energy–energy that when liberated on the atomic level released vast quantities of energy–measured with the constant of the speed of light multiplied by itself.

The Truth of Being

The truth of being becomes clearer as we begin to recognize that the universe reflects a wholeness that defies entropy and is seen in growth, development, and intelligence beyond, behind, and preceding the effects of energy. The wholeness reveals intelligence. While the so called random events of surface perception seem chaotic, the deeper insight into the nature of being and existence reveal harmony.

Acceptance, Surrender, and Presence… a Sprituality that Works

There is a vast difference between being “happy” and finding a genuine inner peace that “passes all understanding” to quote the book. Happiness is often confused for inner peace. The two are not the same. One can be having a miserable experience and still be at the core “at peace.” You can be suffering through the loss of a loved one, career, belief or be in a health crisis an still have an inner peace. When you meet these unusual people, you remember them. The bottom line is tied directly to how one graciously accepts what is as opposed to demanding life be some other way for happiness to be. Happiness is that shallow and temporary fix one gets from stuff, position and comfort, while peace is that deep ability to not define the real self by such elusive qualities. Inner peace is the ability to say “is that so” when life does what it does and defeat the drama queen in all of us with presence.

Is it Good, or is it Bad?

I have a saying “It’s not good, it’s not bad….it just is” on the wall in my workspace and many clients comment on it. They like it even thought they can’t quite say why they like it. I think the reason is that down deep, we all know that one can’t judge how something works out no matter how it seems at the moment.

A client knocked it off the wall accidentally and cracked the glass. She brought it out to me in tears and said she was so very sorry. I said read it……I told her she made it even more perfect a truth than before by breaking the glass. I thanked her for how good the crack looked going all the way through the saying. She smiled and said…”I get it…but Dennis, you ain’t right.” I hung it back up and now clients think the crack was deliberate for effect.

Who’s to say what is good or bad? So often what seems so good turns out to make a miserable experience. What seems so bad turns into the greatest teacher and opportunity. Doors open to better ways of being or an opportunity that never would have come any other way. Bad stomach cramps and a morning in the bathroom after an anniversary dinner the night before, gone bad, did , in fact, keep one business man from making it into work exactly where the first plane hit on 9/11. For him what’s bad certainly was good.

A “bad” experience can force one to let go of illusions, falsehoods and wrong concepts that will not serve one’s life experience. A “bad” experience can cause one to become more real, more humble, more compassionate and to possess an understanding . A bad experience, when viewed from the ego which is merely the mind’s false sense of the self can keep one frozen in time, bitter, angry and consumed with changing the unchangeable past. The ego is that unconscious and running mind that views itself as unique and separate from everything and everyone else. The ego views everyone and everything as a potential threat to itself and can only preserve itself with control, power, greed and attack. Ego runs and ruins organizations and sends governments off to commit genocide on those perceived as “them.” All conflict is a battle of egos, and the need to be right. Give up the need to be right and you will have arrived at a state few attain to.

Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now sums it up nicely

“When two or more egos come together , drama of some kind or another ensues. But even if you live totally alone, you still create your own drama. When you feel sorry for yourself, that’s drama. When you feel guilty or anxious , that’s drama. When you let the past or future obscure the present, you are creating ….the stuff of which drama is made. Whenever you are not honoring the present moment by allowing it to be, you are creating drama.”

“Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story IS their particular life drama…. When you live with complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. …. YOU CANNOT HAVE AN ARGUMENT WITH A FULLY CONSCIOUS PERSON.”

The Power of Now

It has been my own experience that some need their drama to define themselves. I remember well one who was railing to me against a minister that had hurt them deeply in life. I was appalled and ashamed at what she said he had said to her. She was in her 80’s and I could not imagine who among my peers in WCG would be so cruel and stupid…well I could actually.. But she needed help with this. After listening for 30 minutes I finally asked who this minister was and when did this happen. She screamed at me…”Rev. Butler and it was August 12th, 1933!” It was 1978 or so when she came to me. Even in the ignorance of my mere 27 years I remember thinking “yikes.” Butler was long dead, yet he lived.

I certainly have played that game and sometimes still do, though less and less. I won’t let the past define me or others define me based on their perceptions of who or what I used to be. Perhaps not letting them is too optimistic. I should say, I accept it as something they need to do but not something I need to buy into and take personally. Every honest human being knows themselves better than any other can possibly imagine and get it more correct than others can with fleeting judgments or invoking their own accumulated pain to define others.

It is drama that freezes one in place spinning hurts and pain of the past in ways that merely lead to more spinning and pain in the present. The spinning and pain accumulate like so much stuff in the attic. It is the energy behind lives. It takes time and energy in the present to keep that of the past going. It is the false belief that if we don’t keep the past in mind and alive, something will be left undone or someone unpunished. It is what the ego needs for identity.

I remember a first time visit to specific church member mobile home where I found my mind going blank. It seems these people could not physically throw out anything including the garbage and so we sat at a small table with white garbage bags filled and piled from floor to ceiling, front to back, side to side. What did not fit in the home was under the home outside and packed all around this place where these two people lived. It was an amazing experience and in hindsight, a reflection of the baggage this man had crowding his mind. His home was a stark reflection of his inability to let go. His past garbage was his current décor. Of course he was mentally ill, but I would not have known then how to define it or perhaps recognize this outward manifestation of how the man thought. I might have shook my head then but now I see how we all have the potential to lose site of the life garbage and pain body we have stacked so neatly where we now are endeavoring to live. This man had literally tuned out what he was doing and it all seemed quite normal to him now. There was no sane reason for this man to do this physically, and there is no sane reason for anyone to do this emotionally. You’ll get sick or at best not have much room to maneuver.

This is not to say there is not a processing time of months or even some years of events past, but I am not speaking of that. Even an animal has to flap and shake itself off after a painful or tense situation to drain off the excess energy raised in the fray. But it is relatively short lived and animals have the wonderful ability to bring themselves back into the present.

I am speaking of creating an identity for oneself based on past pain. Take away the drama and the ego would not know exactly who it is anymore. It would have to get out of the past, which contains all the stories and drama that dictate the present , or resist projecting themselves into the future where fears can be imagined and cultivated, to be present and at peace. But then again, the ego lives in the pain of the past to define itself. The ego, the false self does everything it can to avoid the present, which is the only real thing any of us have to work with. We all know of people who left without their pain, illnesses, negativity, complaints and woe would probably have to go out and find a new batch or risk having to be likeable…and present.

Simply put, the sum total of all painful experiences, if cultivated and held on to into the present can ruin you. The mind and body were never meant to store psychological time, that is the sum total of painful experiences kept alive by the unconscious, running mind in the present. There is a vast difference between one’s life and one’s life situation.

“I have lived with several Zen Masters…..all of them cats.”

A “good” experience, on the other hand., can keep one way too comfortable, aloof and unreal. Sometimes we say “I feel so dis-illusioned.” What’s wrong with that? Sure, it’s painful but who wants to be illusioned? We should thank someone when our illusions are exposed. Easy to say, I know. I’m still trying to get over some of the illusions I had about the Bible itself and the implications of such illusions. Illusions are false beliefs about ideas and ways to be. Delusional is when one has false beliefs about themselves which do not stand up to reality.

“Don’t be so negative”

Hot button words those! Usually we say this when someone has pretty much pushed our last button or we are sending out a warning that we have had enough. It’s a way of saying that someone is bleeding their pessimism, anger or past pain all over and it needs to stop. It is a way to say “you are ruining my day, my moment and my desire to be around you much longer.” It’s another way of dividing people up into types. It’s also a way to live one’s entire life.

“All inner resistance is experienced as negativity in one form or another.

All negativity is resistance. In this context, the two words are almost synonymous. Negativity ranges from irritation or impatience, to fierce anger, from a depressed mood or sullen resentment to suicidal despair. Sometimes the resistance triggers the emotional pain-body, in which case even a minor situation may produce intense negativity, such as anger, depression or deep grief. The ego believes that through negativity it can manipulate reality and get what it wants.

Once you have identified with some form of negativity, YOU DO NOT WANT TO LET IT GO and on some deep level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry or hard-done- by person. You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. IT IS ALSO INSANE.”

The Power of Now

Tolle goes on to notice that most neurotic behavior seen in animals seems to afflict only those animals that live in close contact with humans and so link into the human mind and this insanity. Be careful who you hang with!

The simple fact is and if you are screaming “simple my ass!”, that’s the ego making every effort to defend and preserve itself. Acceptance of what is provides the way out of pain. All resistance is some kind of non acceptance and that is a bottom line reality in how life really works. Is it easy? Yes….just accept what is. Stay present and not needing the pain of the past to define you or the fear of the future to justify you. Or No…it is not easy and it won’t be if one is left with only the false ego self running the show. The ego knows only one tune…”I will survive” even if you don’t.

We have ALL had quite an experience with religion and religious types whether sincere or supremely manipulative. All churches contain all types, from Pastors to members, from founders to administrators. If you know where to look, you’ll find both Old and New Testament accounts full of drama queens, liars and my-way-or-the-highway leadership. Even as a kid I wondered why the personalities of the Bible were so full of bluster and threats. Why were individual lives so cheap and power over others so evident. Even God, by his own admission was jealous, angry and insecure to the point of needing absolute control over people and worship. Come on, only human ego could get a rip out of twenty four of your best friends singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” to you day and night forever! And then not for very long I would suspect before we had to at least change the tune. Ego is also easily bored. Needing to be worshipped makes me nervous.

The Power of Now IS the peace that passes all understanding. Ego will argue this to it’s last breath because ego can’t live in the present. That’s too real and genuine. It has to derive it’s power from the painful past or the fearful future. The Lion lying down with the Lamb is another way of saying there is another reality here that can work.

Being enlightened or being conscious and present, is not some new age doubletalk. Jesus was enlightened by any standard. It simply means to be to be made lighter. At risk of angering the ego, lighten up. When you understand the terms, a mind , or that spinning thought factory for pain, anger and resentment is a terrible thing… waste it. If it is filled with negativity and drama… waste it. Get out of the unchangeable past and the unknowable future. Buddhism says that sometimes there is nothing left in life to do but have a good laugh. If you just said in your mind “that’s stupid” , it was your ego defending and wanting to justify itself.

“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation…..It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is…It is precisely at those times that surrender needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life. Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being. Resistance is the mind….Surrender is the most important thing you can do to bring out positive change. Any action you take is secondary. No truly positive action can arrive out of an un-surrendered state of consciousness.”

When God Is One, Why People Fight In The Name Of Religion?

All religions accept that God is One who has created the Earth, Heaven and everything that is seen and unseen in the universe. Even the polytheistic religions like Hinduism, believe that all Gods are the manifestation of the same Ultimate Reality of Bhagawan. Yet it is also a fact that people have always fought in the name of religion. Even in the modern world, religion continues to be the cause of conflict in many parts of the world.

Even though, God has been perceived and represented differently in different religions, yet all religions agree that God is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, the origin and cause of all things, just, compassionate and the source of all goodness in the world. However, on the ground level, most people are extremely suspicious of the gods of other religions. They believe that only their god is the True God while the God of other religion is either False or inferior.

Why such a misconception in understanding God? Is it deliberate or natural? The answer to this question is necessary for the mankind, as God is still the most important reality in the life of most people in the world. Religion still gives meaning to most of the people in the world and most people are tied to their religion and spend their life in the religion they are born.

God: The Essence of Religion

It is difficult to define religion as no unanimity exists on the concept of religion. As per one definition provided in Wikipedia,

“A religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law.”

Thus the concept of God is not necessary in religion but the external codes of the religion like prayer, ritual and a sacred book or scripture are necessary in all religions. Yet the faith and believes of all religions revolves around the central theme of God but the concept of God is different in all religions. Hence all religions are same to the extent that they all deals with God (the supernatural power), but different to the extend that they represent the different concept of God. God may be a single word, but its meaning is different in all religions and indeed for every one.

The Trinity of God

In order to understand the different representations of God, it would be useful to understand the concept of Trinity in Christianity. The concept of Trinity of God means that God has three manifestations i.e. the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Father God refers to the concept of God that is beyond the perception of human mind and senses as the Father God is infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscience while human mind has limited capability to learn and understand. Father God is known by different names in different religions like Yahwah (Judaism), Allah (Islam) , Brahman (Hinduism) or Absolute. However the Absolute God is incomprehensible to the common people as it is beyond the grasp of the senses and the mind. This God is better understood by the philosophers who spend their life in understanding the God intellectually and rationally.

Therefore, the God we know is the God who takes the form of man and communicates to us in the language and symbols of the man. The Son God is thus the human representation of God in the world. Christianity refers this form of God as “Son” or Jesus Christ, or the Son of God. In other religions, the human representation of God has been referred as Avatars (Incarnation) or Prophets. The Prophets or Avatars are the human beings who have acquired the highest state of “spiritual” awakening which has made them closest to the divinity. Thus man acquires divinity by the power of the Spirit.

The third manifestation of God is therefore, the Holy Spirit or simply called the Spirit. Spirit of God is believed to be present in all the living beings. Every person has the presence of God in him or her due to the omnipresence of spirit in this world. It is due to the presence of spirit that we are capable of knowing God through self-realization or meditation. Thus some religions like Buddhism or Sikhism are essentiality spiritual religions, who do not believe in the God as Absolute or God as human being but treats God as Spirit that is present in all living beings. Upanishads and Gita also call this representation of God as Paramatma (Universal Soul) whose spark i.e. Atman (Soul) is present in every being.

The Mystery of Revealed Truth of Religion

Even though all human beings are the son (or daughter) of God, yet we fail to understand God due to our engagement in the external world or the world of the senses. The human mind is capable of seeing outside world from the eyes of the senses or seeing inside Self through the eyes of intuition and achieve self-realization. Yet few people realize the need for self-realization as they prefer to understand the Truth from the people who have achieved self-realization.

Since every person is both a body and a soul, he is not only a part of the material world but also a part of the spiritual world. He has to integrate himself with this world for the survival of the body and also required to integrate with the spirit or the unknown world to receive happiness and peace in life that emanates from the soul. He needs to earn his livelihood to keep the body in living condition. Thus the knowledge of the world is absolutely necessary without which no person can play any useful role in the society and fulfill his material necessities of the body.

However, every person is also a Soul hence part of the Universal Soul or the Spirit. Since his soul is deeply connected with the Universal Soul, hence by self-realization alone a person can hope to achieve the true knowledge of the religion or the world or get answer of the deeper quest of life. However, self-realization is a difficult task which can be achieved only when a person focuses all his attention away from the material world and search the truth within. In some ways man has to himself become Spirit (devoid of physical passion and material desire) to reach extremely close to the divinity in order to understand the thoughts of God. It is only when the man attains the nature of spirit; the Truth is revealed to him by God.

Yet, even after realization of the Ultimate Truth, it is difficult to explain this Truth to the common man who are still attached to the material world. If the Truth is explained to them as revealed, it would be incompressible to the common man. A common man can not understand the spiritual truths as they can only see from the eyes of the senses rather then seeing from the eyes of the spirit. The prophets, thus face unique dilemma. They can either limit the Ultimate Truth to a selected few that can be understood by few people who are in the higher stage of spiritual evolution, or covert the Ultimate Truth in the language of the senses and mind for the understanding of the common man.

Rituals: The Body of the Religion

Religion, therefore, like any other creation of the world has both the body and the soul. While the soul of all religions emanates from the same God, the bodies of the religions are different for each culture and society.

In some ways, we can perhaps compare the differences in the religions with the differences in the physical appearance of the people of different race and ethnicity. If it is true that all human beings are offspring of God, then why they all look different from each other? While some differences between individuals are unpredictable, yet other differences surely have explanations. For example when a soul takes the form of a body, the physical characteristics of the body does bear a close resemblance to the body of the parents. Therefore, if the soul takes human form in black parents, the body of the son shall also be black and if the parents are white so shall be the offspring.

Thus when the spirit is converted into body, its physical outlook develops a close resemblance with the parent. In the same way, when God take incarnation in this world, his revelation in the language of the world are different for each religion.

When Symbols are Confused with Reality

The body of the religion is created when the “Revealed Truth” is expressed in the form of words or symbol by the prophets. While people can listen to the words and see the symbols, they can’t know the spirit of the religion except by self-realization. However, most of the people do not have the time and inclination for self-realization. The result is that they confuse the body of the religion as the religion itself. Thus instead of using the words and the symbols as a means to realize the Self or God of the religion, the words and symbols become the end in itself.

All the conflicts within a religion or between different religions arise only because the followers of the religion confuse the symbols of divinity with the divinity. Instead of using the symbols as the means to understand the divinity, they believe the symbol itself as divine. Since symbols are external, they are different in reach religion. The methods of prayers and the words that are uttered in the prayers are always different in each religion since the language is the creation of the man. In the same way even the name and description of God in every religion is different as every society has different languages and symbols to express the thoughts and ideas.

Stop Fighting in The Name of God

Religion, in the modern society is considered to be a matter of person choice. Therefore, governments all over the world are doing little to create a harmony between religions which are essentially the reflections of the same God. The scientific knowledge of the Truth is based on the body i.e. the material reality. Hence, scientific thinking can only reveal the differences in religions, rather then the common truth of the religion, which can come only from the intuition and self-realization. However, in the world of materialism, it is extremely difficult for the people to focus their mind inwards when all the material realities lie outside. The result is that people understand religion only from the symbols and fight with each other. As soon as the complete Truth of God and Religion is realized by self-realization, the conflicts in the name of religion has to come to an end.

Copyright Infringement in the Digital World

Downloading files from the internet is not a crime, but if you download files for free which you usually have to pay for, then there’s a problem. The piracy issue occurs when the copyright owners do not get the amount that they are due.

Piracy is the illegal copying and selling of copyrighted materials, but the common misconception is that people don’t think it matters because no one gets hurt. In reality, the evolution of piracy from burning CDs and DVDs to digital copying has affected the global economy. Pirating a physical copy or streaming illegally affects the livelihood of artists too.

Pirated copies are not always great

Most of the time, illegal copies do not have the same quality as the legal content. A pirated movie may have been recorded on a camcorder at the back of a cinema, so the quality is poor. Its content may be grainy or black and white at some parts. Copies downloaded from the internet on the other hand may suddenly stop at some parts and the sound quality can be very quiet and muffled.

Easy digital access

Downloading directly from the computer has become popular among internet users primarily because of the ease of access. Even with the number of sites that offer legal downloads, there are still file-sharing networks that offer free access to copyrighted materials. And it’s sad that many are active in some form of piracy, either through streaming, downloading, or the old school style of buying counterfeit DVDs.

In any case, piracy costs the entertainment industry. It is stealing from the businesses involved in the art. People must remember that nothing is free. Pirate sites make money through subscription costs or advertising when a consumer streams illegal content. The operators of these sites earn from sharing copyrighted materials that they do not own and have no permission to distribute.

How to minimize the problem?

Having internet service providers get on board in helping fight piracy and detect copyright infringements has always been a struggle. It would require content holders to educate people and private entities to be responsible, make them understand the importance of copyright, and encourage them to support different ways to consume content legally like going to the cinema or subscribing to Netflix and other video-on-demand sites.

Piracy may not be easy to kill but it can be reduced. Besides, with all the latest technology coming out, we only need to keep up. Also, there are entities that help fight piracy with the use of software to detect copyright infringements.

Posted in Law

Personal Injury Should Be Well Taken Care Of

If there is ever a situation where a person is suffering terribly from an injury, disability or in worse case scenarios, even death, mostly due to a careless negligence of an individual, in such cases, the personal injury law covers these instances and extends its hand for help.

A severe injury can cost an individual to shell out a lot of money, sometimes an amount that the individual might not even be capable of paying, if you opt for a personal injury claim in such desperate moments then you are eligible to seek some compensation for the injury you have faced and the payment gets taken care of because of the claim.

Mostly this law covers all the kinds of injury that can possibly take place, these injuries can be of any type. It can either be something that can cause a lot of harm to your body or it can make you face some kind of emotional trauma as well. It can be anything and at anytime and having a claim especially for these kinds of injuries will help you in emergencies.

Be alert and be careful of every step you take.

Let us have a look at some of the tips that can help you get this claim:

• DO NOT DELAY TO GET SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION

The first and foremost step that you need to take when you get an injury is to seek out for medical help immediately and instantly. Do not under any circumstances delay that step because the more you delay it, the more serious it can get, therefore seek out for some medical help as soon as you find yourself in such a situation.

• BE CAREFUL OF THE STATEMENTS YOU MAKE

Be absolutely confident and clear in what you say in the accident scene. Do not say anything that might make the situation much more complicated than it already is or give rise to some kind of a conflict. Be clear in what you have to say and keep it straight when asked about it. This will help in dealing with the process much quickly.

• KEEP A CHECK ON ALL THE EXPENSES

This would include all the bills in the hospital. Be it expense bills; diagnose bills, medical bills or any other tests that you might have undergone. Have a record of all the expenses because it might be asked for when you go to claim for compensation. You can also keep a record of some lost wages that you might have faced due to missing work. Keep a track of everything.

Posted in Law