RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
There are hundreds of thousands of religions across the world. Each religion has its own forms of worship, prayers, ceremonies, and rules defining how to live life in accordance to certain beliefs or principles. With millions of people following these religious practices daily, it’s no question that religion is one of the most important aspects defining human history. Why do people dedicate their entire lives to their faith? What is the goal of religion?
THE GOAL OF RELIGION
On the surface, it may seem as if each religion has its own unique goal. Hinduism aims to end the cycle of reincarnation and worldly suffering, Christianity to receive eternal life after death, Islam to enter Paradise, and so on. These diverse goals, however, are not the ultimate goal—they are various paths towards a single unified goal that all humanity seeks.
Cultural filters of time and place have paved these paths with their specialized codes and practices, but the main goal is universal: union with the Divine and with the divine consciousness that connects all of creation. The Divine may be Allah, Jesus, a pantheon of deities and saints, or the empathy and love shared among human beings. Regardless of the name, this the Divine is what we seek in our efforts to understand life’s eternal question—Why are we here?
SPIRITUALITY WHILE ON RELIGIOUS PATH
In the past, spirituality has received a lot of criticism from both religious folks and atheists alike. Over the past twenty years, spiritual practices (link to earlier article) that were once considered cultish or New-Agey, including meditation, yoga, and reiki, are growing increasingly popular and well accepted. Religious folks might still feel reticent to explore spiritual practices, thinking that these practices oppose the practices of their faith or will compel them to follow a different path to God.
Spirituality’s goal shares the same goal as all religions—union with the Divine. All great religious figures were once on their own spiritual paths towards God. Whether they are stories of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, all religious texts chronicle the path of men and women towards spirituality.
Spiritual practices augment and complement religious practices rather than replace them. After a religious gathering, you can meditate in order to reflect on the guidance that was shared. Reiki (energy healing) can be used to heal people in the religious community who need support. Yoga can help members of faith groups bond while developing a strong mind, body, and spirit.
All religious and secular individuals and communities can use spiritual practices because spirituality reaches toward a concept of the Divine that has no limitations. Spirituality can be tailored to fit your God, your faith, your goals, and your life because it is a philosophy based on ideas rather than beliefs. Its form is fluid and dynamic because you are the seeker of your own God, your own truth. Instead of prescribing a strict protocol, spirituality allows you to choose the tools and techniques you need for your search. You are empowered to decide what works for you and how to use it to create a life of peace and happiness.