Isn't practicing a religion a natural part of a growing spirituality? Or is it just fine to grow without going to a church, mosque or synagogue, etc.?
This has always troubled me. I do not go to church very often; I find it uncomfortable and uneasy having to commit to one faith, and a specific ritual of practice. On the other hand, the Bible insists that going to church is a vital part of your spiritual life. I was raised a Lutheran, for example, and I did enjoy church back then. But now, I just cannot seem to relate to the confinement of thought of just one religion. What do you all think about this? I would appreciate your input- help me to grow and know.
Can it be that I am just fine where I am?
Thanks, and Blessings to you this holiday season 2009...Jaianniah
asked 17 Dec '09, 11:50
This story is totally made up. It is not exactly meant to offend anyone. But depending on where you stand it may seem like it was meant to offend just you. If this is the case, destroy the evil computer upon which you are reading these words very fast. Then go to the closest computer store & buy yourself an un-contaminated computer.
There was once a land mass by the ocean with a little island way off in the horizon. The inhabitants of the mainland & the island grew up over generations without meeting each other. They were farmers & depended on the rain & the sun, but mostly the sun.
The sun chased the darkness away every morning & gave life to everything, so they worshiped the sun. Then one day a boat load of the island farmers landed on the mainland. Maybe their boat crashed on the reef, who knows.
So there they were giving thanks to the sun for sparing their lives. While they prayed a mainland farmer came by and said "Thank God you guys worship the mainland sun, your lives have been saved". To this the survivors exclaimed "what do you mean? Thank God for the island sun our lives have been spared".
You see the mainland worshipers referred to the sun as the mainland sun & the island worshipers referred to the sun as the island sun. Then they started arguing over which sun was the more authentic sun, the mainland sun or the island sun. The mainlanders believed that their sun was the real sun because their scriptures said so. The islander’s scriptures said that they cannot place any other sun before their sun.
While this battle was raging a physicist with a hobby in astronomy came by (don't ask me where he showed up from, he just showed up) and said to the rowdy group "Hey you idiots, don't you know that the sun is just a fire ball & it shines on all your lands without discrimination? And besides, worshiping is not even a prerequisite for the sun to shine on you".
Upon hearing this statement, both battling parties felt absolutely offended & started chasing the physicist with the intent to kill him.
Having survived, the physicist changed professions & went into the printing business. He printed beautifully bound books of great scriptural knowledge for each group, according to their faith. Each group closely guarded this knowledge & felt that they were the chosen ones.
The former physicist became so wealthy from selling to both sides that he realized it's best to leave things just the way they are and profit from the ignorance of the farmers.
And they lived happily ever after.......amen.
answered 18 Dec '09, 03:01
Damn you, Traveller, that's a perfectly good computer I've just destroyed ;) Nice story.
(18 Dec '09, 07:05) Stingray
+1 Good story Traveller, and as good an explanation as any.
(18 Dec '09, 07:11) Vesuvius
Thank you and thank you. Hope you were not too offended. Oh..by the way, Stingray, ask the Sun for a new computer, if you are really sincere in the asking, it should work..
(18 Dec '09, 16:21) The Traveller
I think this is one of your best answers! Thanks for the story, and the lesson...Jai
(19 Dec '09, 22:04) Jaianniah
Somehow I missed this one previously - Thanks to Vesuvius for the comment from another question directing me back here.I love this explanation and you even had me laughing :-)
(21 Jun '10, 11:45) Michaela
showing 2 of 5 show 3 more comments
I've never followed any religion - even as a child, much to the continued annoyance of my religious parents :)
And I've also never prayed in the religious sense of the word. Organized worship is just not my thing and I haven't missed it one bit.
But I've always been interested in spirituality. So, to me, there is an obvious difference between the two. But I can certainly appreciate that those who have been brought up differently might feel that one is necessary to the other.
Personally, I think you are fine where you are - and, furthermore, I think you are fully-entitled to change whatever you are fine with whenever you feel like it :)
answered 17 Dec '09, 21:48
Like Stingray, I have never practiced any religion. The only time I have stepped into religious gatherings is when I was on tourist trips - into the old cathedrals in Europe or mosques and temples in Asia and the Middle East. :)
Despite that, I have been drawn to reading all the various works and consider myself quite spiritual. But - apart from others who know me well - none would consider me spiritual. I keep it to myself, and like it that way. I think a person's spiritual unfoldment is personal to them - and I enjoy parts of everything I have read.
I actually support individual spirituality. In organized religion, it is too easy for most to get their views narrowed and take things as dogma. Many of the most spiritual people I know - started - in the church (or something similar) and then one day...stopped going.
answered 17 Dec '09, 23:17
You said, "Many of the most spiritual people I know - started - in the church (or something similar) and then one day...stopped going." I have seen this happen a LOT. I "outgrew" the spiritual organization that I was, and technically still am, a part of...Others with years and years with the group just seem to "fade away". The same with church. I started going to a local Lutheran Church, and felt..."claustrophobic" in my mind. I kept wanting to raise my hand during the sermon, to ask, "Yes, but isn't THIS true, too?" Thank you! I thought I was spiritually deformed- a spiritual snob! Jai
(18 Dec '09, 00:33) Jaianniah
It's interesting that you raise this question, because I myself have newly come into Christianity (about half a year ago). Previously I was a Buddhist.
I consider myself a non-denominational Christian, if there is such a thing. I attend church service occasionally, when I feel like I'd like to be in a house of God. I do it "anonymously" i.e. I don't join any cell groups nor do I know anyone there.
I don't rule out becoming more involved in church life down the road, but at the moment I have no such inclination as I prefer a quieter, more self-reflective approach. I think this phase of being in touch with our inner selves and God is essential for spiritual growth. Too many people around us may in fact hinder our progress, as we each have our own paths to walk and should not feel pressured by others to go at their preferred pace.
I admit that my former Buddhist background may have had some influence on my current approach to spirituality. I had always treated it as a philosophy of life, and continue to do so even as a Christian.
Jaianniah, I think you are doing fine. :)
answered 17 Dec '09, 16:21
Pat I highly recommend the book Jesus and Buddha "The Parallel Sayings" by Marcus Borg and Jack Kornfield
It compares what each said side by side, it is excellent and you understanding both will deeply enjoy it I am sure. :-D
(17 Dec '09, 18:42) Wade Casaldi
Do you want to be considered a spiritual person, or do you want to be a spiritual person?
I see religion as having many social functions, such as teaching people how to treat each other well, understanding basic moral structures, etc. People come together under one roof to affirm their basic beliefs, and be validated by the presence of others with the same beliefs. And, of course, to worship God. In the best of churches, you can feel God's presence there.
Our church has a name for all of this: they call it corporate worship, which to me sounds like an oxymoron.
At one time, our church was a renegade operation; the members of our church were some of the first to wear jeans on a regular basis to services, and use contemporary music as a vehicle for worship. The main sanctuary, where most of the services are held, was originally a supermarket.
But then our church got civilized; today they have a shiny new office building, and the jeans and music now feel more like a uniform.
I used to do sound mixing for them as a volunteer activity. It was an incredible experience; I got to worship in a way that exercised my talents, and I believe that everyone benefited from my efforts. But in time it got to feel more like a job than a calling, and the focus shifted from finding connection with God to not offending people. Eventually, I was given some time off so that they could train new people, and I was never asked to come back, and I was never told why.
I tell you this, not because I want you to feel sympathy for me, but because I feel that church is ultimately something you should outgrow, at least from a spiritual standpoint. Even my pastor said that his church was "Christianity 101," meaning that his purpose was to teach spiritual basics, not to raise up a congregation of spiritual gurus.
answered 17 Dec '09, 17:15
Anyone of any faith can be spiritual even agnostics, remember Jesus when asked, "what is the greatest commandment" said love. I believe it was "love your brothers as I have loved you."
Many people do this greatest commandment without even knowing God; many do this but know God in other ways as in other religions. To have compassion, respect, and consideration for all, Jesus said, "I came to you, I was hungry and you feed me, I came to you, I was tired and you gave me a place to rest, I came to you, and I was without cloths and you clothed me." No one knew he was Jesus, but did do these things for him and so he says this is a good person and rewards this person as good.
So there are many that practice in a Christian way of Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Kindness, and Service without even knowing God or knowing God in some other way, and maybe even only believing in the possibly of God.
Spiritual people live the way, Religious people study the way, Agnostics or Atheists may or not (depending on the person) live the way without knowing it.
All of this of course is the most basic level of the way, not getting into the deeper mysteries that Jesus taught.
answered 17 Dec '09, 19:07
well the question to this answer is did the religion came from someone reading a book or someone that as direct experiance? the book of religion still have some truth but earing some one reading a book and reading the book your self are 2 different things! do you want some one making a reality for you or do you want to experiance the reality your self? i find it best to go with empty mind and experiance something then having false precept about something! other people view of things and your view of things can be different! does some one that lives in a place with no religion make him not spiritual? think about jesus(in the desert fighting the temptation) buddha(in the forest meditating) all sage and hermit and mystic zen monk why are they going in peaceful place? are they spiritual? don't tell someone religious about this they are not ready yet!
answered 22 Apr '11, 07:32
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jaianniah, it is a personal thing. there is little room for dogmatism and ritual in spiritual unfoldment, yet it can make one more comfortable.