One aspect of this change that is of great concern to me is the good vs. evil dichotomy and how many religious people adhere to the idea that it’s like that, one or the other, black or white. I’m all for people finding religion, after all, on a basic level, religion is meant to inspire one to be a better person. I have seen much and met many people who are variables or counterpoints with regard to the “this vs. that” dichotomy of extremes, they do exist and that is refreshing. That being said, those variables, those counterpoints, account for a smaller number of people than those who do adhere to the dichotomy of extremes and more often than not it is the religious, not the spiritual, who are likely to miss the myriad shades of grey and see only black or white. The separation of spiritual and religious people is becoming more pronounced all the time. This will inevitably lead to people disagreeing with the concept that both can co-exist. It will be intersting to see which group takes the most offense to it, my guess is that it will be the people who have hosted the most wars. Religious people are the sharks of the sea, spiritual people are the dolphins.
In general, religion, more so than spirituality, adheres to the good vs. evil point of view. Taking into account the variables, the inevitability of there being counterpoints, the “one god” religions tend to preach the “this vs. that” philosophy. It may be due in part to the belief in just the one god and that he is absolute and he is the keeper of the souls of his followers and veering from “the way” as defined by him can only result in a one way ticket to eternal hellfire. Meanwhile, in most spirituality I’ve come across, although there are still definite ideals that are set in stone and it is suggested that they be adhered to, variables are taken into account, shades of grey, with much more forgiveness than in mainstream “one god to rule them all” religions. Spiriuality, unlike religion, has the capacity to evolve.
There is much that separates someone who is spiritual from someone who is religious. A spiritualist, for example, would be less likely to use their theology as a catalyst for world domination; for the spiritualist believes in theologies of a more universal nature while religions, specifically “one god” religions, tend to focus on just this one planet. Also bear in mind that in their focus on this planet they attempt to ensure that “their own” people are not only in key positions within the government but also in schools and as much media as possible. The religious tend to see the world in terms of our religion vs. your religion, our state vs. your state, our country vs. your country. In contrast, the spiritualist, in general, would rather see a unified Earth, not all practicing the same theology but seeing all theologies as equal in value. I know- I’m starting to sound like a pod-person again, funny how to speak of unity, brotherhood and acceptance is equated with being loopy. Religious and spiritual people know what brotherhood and unity and acceptance mean, the main difference is that the religious people only want to feel brotherhood, acceptance and tolerance toward those who are just like them and believe the same as they do.
The point is that the world, the universe for that matter, is not a black and white place and people are rarely just this or that. Technology is affording us the opportunity to learn about all kinds of things from all over the world as well as providing us with a way to communicate with people from all over the world in real time. People from everywhere and from all walks of life are discovering or re-discovering spirituality but the “us vs. them” approach rears its ugly head at every turn. It is, after all, what we are brought up on. That nice united Earth has never happened and isn’t likely to unless some kind of balance is achieved that allows us to take all the variables and counterpoints into account without judgment. Most of the “one god” religions, you know, the ones that have sponsored the most wars, are under the impression that theirs is the “one true way.” That they are right and everyone else is wrong. There is one god and he is good and therefore right, so we do as he commands and we submit our soul to him in faith that he will maintain a perfect balance between good and evil for us. Meanwhile spiritualists and even scientists would pretty much agree that perfectly balanced forces equal a net movement of zero, and while this type of voluntary stagnation may be what the religious strive for, the spiritual do not.
Meanwhile, even though the spiritual may be more willing to accept the idea of unity that doesn’t mean many of them are doing anything about it. A unified spiritual community takes work that the spiritual are ill equipped to perform. The spiritual community is vast and varied. There are so many differing theologies involved and each person is very attached to their ideals. In the “unity” scenario one person’s theology is no better or worse, no more “right” or “wrong” than another. What resonates with a spiritual person is almost expected to vary from one person to the next since individuals are taken into account as one of the acceptable variables of being spiritual. The point is to learn from one another, even challenge in healthy debate ones ideas so all involved in said debate can learn and grow from the experience. The acceptance of the fact that there is more than one valid theology out there creates an open mindedness and acceptance not present in religions where only one path is considered valid. Unfortunately, many spiritualists, while accepting other spiritual theologies as valid, close their minds like steel traps to the “one god” theologies making themselves seem at the very least hypocritical and at worst ignorant.
Still, the lessons that have been fed to us since birth are hard to beat, from school, media and parents we are not taught to desire unity. With the religious vs. spiritual dichotomy there is also an earth vs. universe dichotomy, good vs. evil, this vs. that, always the separation we were trained to fall back on. Spiritualists often separate themselves even more so than religious people do by taking advantage of the nature of the open ended approach that is acceptable to the spiritual. There are a lot of different kinds of Christians but there are just as many or more kinds of spiritualists and they have more gods and goddesses to choose from. Paganism alone offers more ways to practice than there are beer bellies at a ball game, and all are valid. I suppose in the end it all balances out since spiritual people are separated over their desire to validate their experience while religious people are separated by the competition over prime real estate after the rapture. Everyone wants to out-do one another. The spiritualists are too preoccupied with whose theology appropriate jewelry is the shiniest and the religious are preoccupied with breathing life into the stagnant, dogmatic principles they cling so tenaciously to without pissing off the “one god.”
Meanwhile, our biggest influences, what we are taught and what is enforced from pre-school to the grave, is that it’s us vs. them. Young spiritualists of the day want to fight for their spiritual rights and old spiritualists want to prove they don’t have to and everyone is so preoccupied they’re kind of missing the point. There is one thing however, that everyone agrees on and that is that we all should be free to express our religio-spirituality, the problem is that we do not know how to let one another and that is one of the first things we need to change. It’s easy enough to say but more difficult to apply to one’s life. We want to be right, this is our spirituality after all but being right doesn’t automatically mean that everyone else is wrong. Discussion of the topics of religion and spirituality are still in the top three on the taboo list and often that ends up being for the best since both sides are still so far from acceptance on the whole that needless arguments usually ensue and often people are too sensitive about the subject to be objective.
By using the words “religion” and “spirituality” as I have thus far I perpetuate the afore mentioned separation and of course I realize that, but it’s all in the name of making a point. I, as mentioned, am aware that there are counterpoints. To use Christians as an example since they are the “one god” worshippers we are most familiar with, I must honestly say that I have met some that are very spiritual people. They don’t push an agenda and they accept the fact that not everyone worships the way they do. There are also many spiritualists out there who accept that there are other ways to do things but not that certain of those ways are valid. Here’s my suggestion, stop thinking about what others are doing and focus on your own path, no matter what it is. In the end, no matter what your beliefs, you are the one with full accountability for your moral actions and morality is directly related to your religio-spiritual choices. If you are being religious or spiritual or both for anyone other than yourself in the context of making a personal connection to your version of divinity, you aren’t doing it right.
We all need to change, and it won’t happen overnight. There is a desire some have to see this change manifest and they figure the best way is to let everyone know what they are doing, how they are doing it and how well it is working for them. There are just as many people out there seeking out information, wanting to know how others are doing it and how it worked for them, that’s why self-help and new age spirituality are both billions of dollars a year industries. The catch is that the authors of these books and tapes and DVD’s fail to let potential seekers in on the fact that what worked for them will not work for everyone. Sure some of the information will resonate and be helpful to the seeker looking at the material but they will not find the same enlightenment that the author did. I’m not trying to diminish the value of these books, I’m simply pointing out that while they may be useful, what is of more value is what the individual does with the information they glean from these materials. Do they buy the kit, wear the special bracelet and go around telling everyone they meet about it only to find a newer and shinier kit somewhere down the road, or do they accept and apply those parts that resonated with them to their lives humbly?
Ghandi is credited with saying, “My life is my message.” And although he was an activist, that statement taken to heart by an individual seeker simply implies being the message, not through posturing and wearing your spirituality on your sleeve, but by being a living embodiment of your path to connection with divinity. Not just on Sunday but rather with every movement, with every action, with every word, you are setting an example of your own chosen path. Do you represent by arguing with everyone or being intolerant or do you represent with words of wisdom, humility, respect and tolerance? The change is big but it is happening. It seems that what needs the most work on everyone’s part is to stop thinking in terms of “us vs. them” and think more along the lines of us AND them, all of us, together on this planet. Tom Robbins said, “When we can converse with the animals, we will know the change is halfway here. When we can converse with the forest, we will know the change has come.” I ponder that statement frequently too, but how will we ever get to the point where we can converse with the animals when we cannot even converse with each other?
When December 21, 2012 was approaching there was a feeling in the air like a big, wacky aura (I know, pod person right?) I felt it for some time and continue to monitor it. For the spiritualists there are the prophecies, for the religious there is the rapture and for the scientists there are shifting plates and other tectonic issues that all point to the Earth going through a change too. We’ve all seen the movie, the destruction, the death, the hopeful ending where there’s enough left to re-build. I ponder how much will have to be re-built and not just structurally. How will we do it? Will we do it with a sense of community or will there be raping and pillaging and theft and “us vs. them” madness? Take a moment to really think about that without applying your own ideals to the situation, think of us, Earthlings, all of us together coping with a large scale catastrophic planetary change and ask yourself, would we end up making it even worse? You know the answer, as do I, and it’s rather disappointing, isn’t it?
Perhaps we need a challenge to rise to; perhaps we’ve gotten so disconnected from one another that only a cataclysmic event will do the trick, but let’s hope for there to be enough left to re-build so we have a chance to do it right. One thing that played in my head often when the alleged 2012 “end of the world” was hanging over our heads like a hornet’s nest was the song by R.E.M. stating, “It’s the end of the world as we KNOW it.” They kind of have a point. Who’s to say it means things are going to get worse rather than better? Who’s to say that it doesn’t mean we as humans, as Earthlings, are going to evolve and take a step in the right direction ? I guess that depends on us, each individual being as a microcosm capable of working within the macrocosm that is community, community being everyone. Together. I know, pod person, right?
*Note: Last edited, January 2013.