In the beginning, there was religion, a system of belief that was conceived by a small organization of men to offer hope, peace and understanding. The Bible and many other sacred texts were written by a small organization of men to provide a practice for learning, language, growth and a structure for righteous living.
Religion is a congregational (group) belief that follows a curriculum of verses, hymns, sermons, lectures, passages, practices, teachings, prayer and fellowship. There is a hierarchy of small organizations of men whom preside over God’s will and testament for the flock (people). This is where the vision for religion takes a heretical turn.
Religion could be perceived as a system of control, manipulation and distraction.
It presents a mirage of divinity with creation stories, history, parables and commonly accepted principles. Small organizations of men distort and disseminate the wisdom of their selected saviors for the purpose of exploiting and enslaving the spiritual consciousness of their congregations. Who, to this day, continue to use religion to place themselves between that which is symbolized as “God” and humanity using the most powerful weapon known to mankind, fear. In essence, they tend to divert their fellowships away from the only truth, peace, personal power, happiness, fulfillment, understanding and wisdom they were all born to become, their own.
Amidst the barrage of religions, another path emerged. A way focused more on the individual’s experience of life and their relatedness to it, transforming the imposition and obligation of belief into a lifestyle later to be recognized as spirituality. There are as many avenues to take on a spiritual path than there are people, as authentic spirituality inspires the apprentice to establish and maintain their own path. It is a much more challenging endeavor of faith because it requires a diligent expression of bringing one’s personally discovered truth into their daily life through their chosen way of being. There are few, if any, established guidelines, books, classes and lectures. For the most part, there are no teachers to guide us in the direction that is most appropriate for “our” spiritual evolution.
Our spirituality is achieved with our willingness and commitment to being present to and interactive with this genuine way of life. The more we give and share of ourselves, the more we will relate and connect to our spiritual experience. When we are conscious of this realization, it may often seem as though our symbiosis with our soul is brief at best.
Personal spirituality is a daunting task, as there is very little social support, affirmation and applicable advantages to our every day reality. There are very few translations of spiritual study to our daily lives that result in financial gain, employment advancement or extraordinary relations with most in our contemporary society. There are times when these things occur, yet they are few and far between. Walking our spiritual path is oftentimes so contrary to our daily lifestyle, it may seem almost impossible to attempt, let alone sustain. When we do savor the fleeting moments of our fulfillment, it is a solitary celebration. If our authentic experience of life (spirituality) is contingent upon and customized to our choices and involvement, we eventually realize that our spiritual path is for us and us alone.
There are millions of books and articles, thousands of lectures and videos and hundreds of spiritual teachers or “gurus” whom stand at the ready to “guide” the masses toward spiritual awakening, evolution, transcendence and transformation. Many have committed to their observation, study, practice, experience and lifestyle of faith, expression and understanding. Many can talk a convincing talk and may even walk a compelling and enchanting walk. Yet, when the credits roll on the DVD, or the last word is read in the book or spoken at the lecture, it is all presented from “their” encounters in “their” life, not from or even for the life experiences of all whom are in their attendance. When the audience leaves the comfort zone of the fellowship in which they inhabited the vicarious spirituality eventually retreats.
A common misinterpretation of contemporary spirituality has become apparent in our society within most popular spiritual paths. It may seem that these extraordinary and revolutionary discoveries, perceptions, insights and knowledge are truly and essentially beneficial. Upon our closer experience, we may find that we are allowing our souls to be “romanced” when we give our personal power over to the guru or spiritual teacher by looking to them for the answers only we can discover.
Much as the congregational and dependent-laden path of religion, all spiritual paths can become “romanticized,” “shaman”-ized and popularized to attract and enchant the masses. It may seem that emulating or even “echoing” a guru or spiritual teacher’s wisdom makes the difficulty of walking one’s spiritual path easier. Yet, it can become a distraction that only diverts and inhibits the individual’s growth and transformation, all the while potentially contributing to the expansion of the spiritual teacher’s ego and bank account.
It requires a great deal of discernment walking a spiritual life. It may seem that most are merely talking the talk, for “spiritual” common sense clarifies that if one is talking a lot about their selected path and the epiphanies, revelations, insights and transformations they may be experiencing, chances are, they may not be walking the way as authentically as they might believe. They may simply be attempting to prove their spiritual worth to supplement their own insecurities and/or inadequacies. This is a superficial pursuit that can and does result in conflict within spiritual communities.
Our perception carries an immense measure of influence and intention in the quality and awareness of our experience. Perhaps the most intimidating realization that may persuade us toward looking from without for our most essential answers is the discovery and understanding of the responsibility, intention, integrity and commitment it requires from within.
Those who choose to remain silent, ever present, vigilant and engaged in their path engender an energy of consciousness and wisdom. There is no one else in the world that is more experienced, qualified or destined to establish our personal connection with our soul than ourselves. It is not through our words or accolades, yet through the expressions of our humility, compassion, kindness and love we share with others. This may be the only way we as human beings can support and empower each other toward our own enlightenment.