Spirituality and Religion!

Religion and spirituality are not one and the same. One can follow a religion and may not be spiritual.

Religion concerns mostly with rituals. Religion is an established and community nurtured and oriented institution. Spirituality is individual specific and nurtured and lived by individuals. Religions are mass-specific. Spirituality is individual and Divinity-specific. Religion can be dogmatic but spirituality is enlightening. Blind faith or superstition may be the part of religion. Faith is the essence of spirituality. Faith in oneself and one’s SELF is the life-line of spirituality.

Religions may denounce other religions. Spirituality never denounces religions. Culture, tradition and manners guide religions. Spirituality defines them. Spirituality stands for universal love and peace. A religious person transforms into a spiritual person. A spiritual person is an ever ready source of tranquility and bliss. Steeped in silence without egoistic thoughts in the form of happiness or unhappiness, they live in peace and let live others live in peace. Their mere presence will be beneficial to the world as the mere presence of Sun helps acctivites on earth.

Spirituality sets in when religious dogma sets. Spirituality is liberty, freedom and independence. Religion is unquestioning adherence and following. Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Jiddu Krishna Murty and such eminent personalities are spiritual persons. People experience peace and calmness in their presence. This is the acid test to know whether the Guru is spiritual or not. Ecstasy and joy are not symbols of spirituality. They are symbols of devotion. Devotion is more emotional and becomes calmness gradually.

Present day commercial spiritual masters are not spiritual, they are worldly. They do not represent any religion or tradition. They represent themselves. They aggrandize themselves quoting sacred religious and spiritual texts. They enslave than enlighten. They themselves are not enlightened. If they are enlightened and are sincere and genuine they do not do the things they ask us to shun. Especially their love and lust for money and related aggrandizement, show, pomp and money-oriented empires are deterring to their attainment of spirituality. They are like the wooden spoon in the sweet-dish which always remains in touch with the sweetness but never tastes it or can taste it. Not only they, but also the political and cultural groups claiming a particular religion or ideology are also like these wooden spoons in the sweet dish. They neither know about nor experienced in spiritual or religious traditions of respective religions and do not deserve to represent the religions they claim to represent. They represent the trait of fundamentalism and use religion for that purpose and exploit our regard for religion to their selfish ends. They represent themselves and their vagaries.

Scientists, Philosophers, poets, writers, musicians, dancers, artists, sculptors, artistes and the like are all spiritual persons. All these people absorb their identity in the knowledge they acquire and spread or art form they cultivate and present. Such absorption of individual’s identity in one’s Inner Self is spirituality. Any person doing his duty whole-heartedly, sincerely and efficiently is spiritual. He can be a cook, a barber, or a laborer. That is why in our country we have been having spiritual persons in every step of our social ladder.

Just visiting religious places or reciting Holy Books and the like does not make a person religious and spiritual. Compassion for fellow beings and concern for nature are essential. One can start in religion to evolve into a spiritual being. But it is not absolutely necessarily essential to follow a religion to become spiritual. A non-believer or an atheist can also be a spiritual person.

Sincerity is spirituality. Spirituality is oneness with one’s Nature and the nature around. The ability to live in the present, sans thoughts relating to past or future in the form of pains, hurts, happiness, unhappiness, worries, sorrows, joys, fears, doubts, imaginations, anxieties, anticipations and the like, is spirituality. We are a flow of present continuous in the present in bliss, peace and silence and not past or future. Cultivating spirituality and being a spiritual person helps us to perform our duties and tasks with equanimity of mind sans ego. Such performance makes us confident and self-reliant and helps our near and dear by our not bothering them with our in-built insufficiency, inadequacies and negative traits.

Spirituality is for our and society’s wellness and wellbeing. A spiritual person can be religious, follow a religion and also can transcend religious dogma. Spiritual persons are path-makers and path-breakers depending on social situation and necessity. Religion is part of social life. Spirituality is its breath.

Persons, militant religious, ideological, radical or cultural groups may or may not believe in the Omnipotence, Omniscience or such natures of God. In their limited understanding of God and His capacities they try to influence or thwart the Divine plans and turn problematic. They never are religious and do not represent the religion, and merely represent their inherent destructive tendencies by hijacking religions and ideologies. We erroneously blame religions for such destruction.

Also a person can be merely belonging to a particular religion for statistical purpose only. The profound nature of the sayings of the Prophets and Holy Books are never understood or followed by them. They become a nuisance and danger to the society with their fundamentalism. And when many religions have to coexist in a society, these “religious” people develop and nurture discord among various religious communities for their selfishness and self-aggrandizement. They hijack the religions and interpret them barbarically.

Certain groups or parties claiming protectors of such and such a religion or culture actually exploit the affiliation of ordinary people to respective religions, cultures and ideologies. Their self-serving and foolish deeds are mistaken as representing and belonging to their respective religion and religion gets bad name.

Adherence to ethics and morals is not spirituality. But such adherence over a period of time makes one spiritual. Spiritual persons never harm or hurt fellow beings. They may also appear not adhering strictly to the norms of the society. They are never touched by any immorality.

One can attain spirituality through loving – falling in love, loving fellow beings or Divinity. The ups and downs while loving makes one matured, composed, wise and equanimity of mind sets in. Falling and failing in love can also give a genuine spiritual transformation. Dispassion results in. Dispassion with a positive attitude is spirituality. It improves clarity of mind and the individual never gets confused and clumsiness never touches him. He will never be dogmatic.

Ordinary Indian citizens are spiritual persons. They are not allowing the militant religious, cultural and ideological organizations to provoke them. They are absorbing all their onslaughts and are not allowing blood to flow despite the heinous, dastardly and despicable acts committed by the fundamentalist organizations. They are keeping their cool and are leading by holding the flag of spirituality.


More by :  Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam

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