The discussion of spirituality without religion has been a heated debate in the recent past. Religion is a system of practices, behaviors and beliefs. Spirituality can be defined as a belief of a deity or deities without necessarily engaging in practices ascribed to that deity. Some think that being spiritual without having any affiliation with religion will help them to connect with God more while others believe they need to spice up their spiritual life with some religious practices for it to be healthy. People can have a spiritual life without being associated with any religion.
In modern society, people have shifted from the notion that one must attach religion to spiritual experience. The paper uses historical books and examples to show how people in ancient times had no religion, and yet they were spiritual. It also presents arguments from sacred writings and various scholars who give facts about why spiritual cannot thrive without religion. The close examination of the issues makes the paper to firmly conclude that it is possible to have a thriving spiritual life without religion.
Religion is not a measure of spiritual life. In the concept of religious and spiritual, spirituality is measured by how well an individual follows the sacred teachings. Many people believe in religion, but they do not follow their instructions to the latter. This shows that these people are not spiritual (Burton, 2017). For example, many religions, including Christianity, forbid people from stealing, adultery, and coveting, among others. Surprisingly, almost 80% of people in the whole world confess one religion or another. The rate at which the above practices are reported in the media is overwhelming. The statistics make one wonder why we have such practices in a society that is supposed to have zero tolerance for such behaviors.
Religious practices do not guarantee spirituality. Some religious teachings do not uplift one's spiritual life. For example, the belief that an individual needs to perform certain mysticism at a cost for the forgiveness of their sins adds more burdens to the oppressed. Some religions require an individual to inflict pain on their body before their forgiveness. Such activities add more pain to the guilty. Other religions need believers to give money to their leaders regardless of whether they have it or not. Such worship is oppressing, and it does not cater to the needs of the poor. According to Durkheim (1912), religion is the opium of the poor. Poor people go to church to be relieved from their many troubles. When religion stops offering comfort to the poor people and starts oppressing them, it loses its meaning.
Religion is not the only source of spiritual strength. The whole purpose of religion is to add more meaning to the spiritual life. However, an individual may find inspiration for their spiritual experience from other things. For example, as you look at the trees, the flowers, the mountains, and valleys, you will realize that there is a designer behind all such things. Religion teaches the same thing. Also, your conscience can be a source of spiritual experience. Some people are not affiliated with any denomination, but they unconsciously believe in some religious teachings. For example, some people do not kill, they are not corrupt, and they do not steal even though they do not relate to any religion.
Religion is a modern phenomenon. According to Nogbri (2013), ancient people lived a spiritual but not religious life. The author gives examples of how people were unable to distinguish between religious and secular. According to him, religion involves viewing some things as Sacred or and having a distinctive way of living while spiritual is believing in a God or gods but not necessarily practicing any form of mysticism. He gives an example of ancient sacred places that were used for secular purposes. For example, Roman temples were still forums for political rallies, markets, and such things. This evidence shows that the ancient people had no regard for sacred places, and they remained spiritual. This example has been repeated in our modern society, where we still use churches for political events.
It is not clear which religion is true. From ancient times, there has always been a war on which religion is true, especially among Christians. The Roman Catholic shed a lot of blood during the dark ages, where people who opposed their teachings were regarded as heretics (Durkheim, 1912). If we were to follow a religion, we would forsake our spiritual life, which is more important. The fight about religion has not changed with time as people continue to elect churches, mosques and, a temple claiming their religion is true. If we are to follow the religion, we need to have a clear understanding of which is true religion. However, the Bible has tried to explain which true faith is. Genesis 2:1-3 gives command of true religion. According to the Bible, God commands all people that he created to rest on the seventh day of the week. Christians have neglected this command, and that is why people would rather believe in gone alone without mixing with any religion. There are various dangers of being religious and not spiritual.
The definition of a code of conduct is left with the individual. For spiritual people without religion, the decision of what is right or wrong depends on their inner conscious. The inner voice is God. They do not believe in high authority that defines the code of conduct for all human beings. Letting the individual decide how they want to behave is problematic. According to Max Weber, human beings are beast who is regulated by laws. In this concept, human nature cannot decide what is right, depending on their conscience. First and foremost, their conscience is corrupt and impure (Crane, 2017). The selfish human nature is another reason why we cannot leave the decision of deciding how we should live on ourselves. Individuals tend to judge an action depending on how well it benefits them. For example, a person will take bribes and argue that it was necessary for they urgently needed the money. Religion condemns such an action, and it forbids an individual from taking bribe no matter the circumstance. If such an individual is confronted by faith, they will emphasize that according to them, they do not see anything wrong with their actions.
The God of "spiritual but not religious" does not give answers to world mysteries. Since an individual is their own God, they are unable to understand life's worries like death which the opposite of religion which explains what death is (Burton, 2018). Other mysteries of who created the world and how it was created are unexplained (Crane 2017). Therefore, an individual who holds this view fails to have hope, which is offered by religion. On the other hand, religion explains some of these mysteries. This explanation makes one more spiritual as they realize there is a higher power than themselves that controls the world.
Spiritual is nothing but a branch of religion. According to Crane (2017), religion has existed as long as man has been in existence. The only thing that has changed is the various forms of religion and the characterizations of religion. The author explains that in ancient times, there was no distinction between religion, politics, and economic activities of a society. Whatever they practiced was interpreted to be their religion. Just as a branch cannot exist without a tree, "spiritual only" cannot exist without religion. Having this in mind, it is evident that a spiritual concept is a modern form of worship (Greg, 2018). "Spiritual only" belief borrows most of its idea from religion. For example, religion was first to introduce the concept of deity and other higher powers.
The purpose of spiritual can only be realized by combining it with religion. 'Spiritual' alone focuses on a belief on a deity or higher power, but it does not go beyond to find out how that deity affects life. Such knowledge leaves the person without adding any value to their life. It is contrary to the purpose of 'spiritual,' which should add more meaning to the life of the believer. The belief of spirituality without religion is only theoretical. It gives the believer a more in-depth explanation of how the creator would want them to live or how he affects their life. Such addition makes one more spiritual (Durkheim,1912). It strengthens their belief in the creator. As an individual engages in religious practices such as prayer and meditation, they can have a more profound knowledge of a deity.
In conclusion, the word religion and spiritual are almost synonymous. The existence of the two words depends on each other. As seen above, the purpose of religion is to strengthen spiritual experience through various practical activities like praying and meditating. This responsibility has been neglected due to the emergence of many faiths. Religion has come to weaken the spiritual life of its members instead of strengthening it. Since the mental aspect is more important than the religious element, it is, therefore, crucial for someone to be spiritual without any religion until they realize which the true religion is.
Nongbri, B. (2013). Before religion: A history of a modern concept (p. 33). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Crane, T. (2017). The Meaning of Belief.
Durkheim, E. (1965). The elementary forms of the religious life  (p. 414). na.Gregory Paul on the rise of nonbelief in the U.S.: it's happening faster than you think. (2019, June 3). Retrieved from https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/gregory-paul-on-the-rise-of-nonbelief-in-the-u-s-its-happening-faster-than-you-think/.
Burton, T. I., & Vox. (2017, November 11). "Spiritual but not religious": inside America's rapidly growing faith group. Retrieved from https://www.schwartzreport.net/spiritual-not-religious-inside-americas-rapidly-growing-faith-group
Version, K. J. (2017). Holy Bible. Arcturus Publishing Limited.
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