There has been, and continues to be, a stark decline in memberships within religious based organizations, and yet interest in spiritual constructs within the ‘secular’ realm seems to be on the rise. 

What might this be about?

Based upon my own research and experience, I would say that this trend reveals that people are seeking a shift away from being told what they ought to believe in favor of being permitted to decide for themselves what they actually DO believe. 

This has led to the emergence of sayings like:

“Religion is someone else’s experience, spirituality is your own experience.”

“If religion is the boat, spirituality is the lifeboat.”

“Religion is humanity reaching out for God, spirituality is God reaching out for humanity.”

And the most common:

“I am spiritual, but not religious.” 

But what does this actually mean, and how does it ‘play-out’ in everyday life? 

If we study the situation historically we discover that spirituality has always existed within religion, meaning that below the exoteric symbols and teachings lie esoteric truths and principles that reveal universal realities. 

Take the concept of God, for example. Various religions present their own particular conceptualization of the First Cause/Primal Force from which all else came, yet it is the universal experience of that Essence that matters most to us, and which offers the most promise for impacting our individual and collective existence. 

Call God what you will, God is, and in God we “live, and move, and have our being.” 

Now, a solely religious person may have a serious problem with what I have shared thus far in this post, and they might demand that God be referred to by a particular name, as a certain gender, and with particular attributes that their own dogma and doctrine might dictate. Some would even be willing to end friendships, and/or even resort to violence to defend that which they have adopted as absolute. 

The basis of such behavior is FEAR, but “perfect LOVE casts out FEAR.”

I like to say it this way:

If you take five religious persons and put them in a room, they will most likely be arguing within five minutes. However, if you place five spiritual people in the same situation, they will most likely engage in patient and fruitful dialogue for more than five hours. 

This is possible because within each RELIGION we discover a wonderful SPIRITUALITY that offers life and vitality to the Soul. In Judaism it is Kaballah; in Islam, Sufism; and in Christianity it is known as Christian Mysticism. Each of these spiritual traditions contains incredible beauty and confluence, and each can benefit people of every creed and nation. 

The Unitarian Universalists express this openness wonderfully within their Fourth Principle that encourages “A free and responsible search for Truth and meaning.” 

I also RESPECT the right of each and every person to express themselves in an affirming and peaceful way via any religion they may choose, but I ENCOURAGE the avoidance of expressions that highlight “the LETTER verses the SPIRIT.” 

Is there not enough disparity, criticism, and violence in our world already? Have we not yet evolved beyond primitive thinking and misguided absolutism? 

Where RELIGION can often separate, SPIRITUALITY unifies. 

I pray that each and every one of you will be greatly blessed and fulfilled as you continue to evolve and express your own unique and personalized version of SPIRITUALITY, within or without the framework of any particular RELIGION. 

Let us remember that God is SPIRIT, and does not have a RELIGION. We may choose to follow one if we wish, but let us remember that RELIGION without SPIRITUALITY is merely a form without a viable function. 

I close with this thought for your consideration:

“Why do religions stand in opposition of one another? If they are authentically seeking and finding SPIRITUAL TRUTH, would there not be congruence, agreement, and co-operation between them?”

Life, Light, & LOVE! 

Dr. Mik

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