Religion vs Spirituality

Today this facebook post by the Dalai Lama caught my eye:

“More fundamental than religion is our basic human spirituality. We have a basic human disposition towards love, kindness and affection, irrespective of whether we have a religious framework or not. When we nurture this most basic human resource – when we set about cultivating those basic inner values which we all appreciate in others, then we start to live spiritually.”

I don’t know what it means to you (perhaps you want to share?) but for me it gets down to the essence. Following the french philosopher Pierre Teilhard the Chardin (We are not a human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience) I too choose to believe that we as humans carry this basic human spirituality with us. It shows itself in this willingness to help others or in this sense of curiosity when we meet each other. The systems we have been creating over the past centuries lead to different outcomes and often take us away from our very nature: the desire to connect and share in freedom.

In my view religion invariably becomes dogmatic and filled with people, who are leading and managing the organisation that gets built around it by sticking to and expanding the dogma. Where for some dogma may have some advantages, I see four major disadvantages:

1) to quote the famous 2005 speech by Steve Jobs: dogma is the result of other people’ s thinking. It blocks a flow of energy that is needed to keep the essence and the connection to it organic and alive. It tends to make interpretations of accounts of historic events fixed, not leaving room for more accurate interpretations, based on scientific research for instance.

2) religious dogma forms a disconnect from the original essence. For instance in my novel “The Glass Dome” this is illustrated by the catholic priest telling the main character during a dinner party that nowadays the catholic church preaches love and talks about it whereas the essence is being love. And that contact with that essence has been lost. Quite a difference. Oh, and of course ‘being love’, does not require to be talked about as it just is.

3) because religious dogma tends to be fixed, leaving no room for different interpretations (or to put it differently: it’s not open to change) it gets intolerant with the risk of becoming fundamental and (extremely) violent. This is the stage where even groups of people of different factions of the same religion start waging war on each other because of the differing interpretation of a written document for example.

4) it enhances the illusion of separation as the dogmatic communities are exclusive. It introduces right and wrong (based on dogma that is) which means that we and those who are with us are right and all the others are wrong (and should be stopped from promoting their viewpoints; see pt 3 above)

What might be the way forward? Well, it won’t come as a surprise when I tell you that in my view ideally all religious dogmatism would be reevaluated and judged on its connection with the original essence. In order for the original essential energy to surface again. How different would it be when we all allow our own individual spiritual experiences to be what they are: our own individual spiritual experiences, still knowing that we are connected of course. I would enjoy my experiences and you would enjoy yours. Of course we could share them but preferably without one trying to convince the other of the supposed superiority of his experience. Learning from your experience could possibly enrich mine and vice versa. As long as we present our spiritual experiences as our own and merely as an invitation to observe and learn if we want to. Our experiences are different but they stem from the same source. As we do. What a peaceful world would result, or?

All is one. We’re all God’s children and no one is a child of a lesser God.