STEP TWELVE: Having recognized the difference between religion and spirituality, we strive to be true to the Spirit within all of Divine Creation and to be a Light to point the way.
Instruction: Separate religion and spirituality.
Whenever we struggle with religious beliefs, it helps to remember that religion is man’s attempt to define The Divine, to guide us into ways to worship, and to get along with one another. No religious belief system is perfect or exclusive in its ability to accomplish these tasks, and none can replace our innate ability to connect with The Divine on a personal level. Keeping that in mind, we measure the quality of a religious organization based on what we know to be true to the Divine Spirit that resides within our hearts. Once we come to this understanding, we can enjoy religious expression without feeling guilty, wrong, or shameful when we fail to line up with their way of doing things or even with some of their beliefs. If conflicts arise, we can choose to stay or leave. Those decisions aren’t always as simple as these words would make it out to be, but knowing in our hearts that we can make those decisions, even if our leaving is more a mental versus a physical leaving, allows us to find religious and spiritual freedom.
There may be times and circumstances in which the differences between religion and spirituality seem blurred. In these situations, the best choice can often be a delayed decision. This allows us time to consider all the ramifications of the things that we are encountering and to make a more informed choice. It also provides time for us to evaluate the issues one at a time by considering whether the lines of religion and spirituality have been crossed in a negative way. For instance, if someone says that dancing is evil, is that a spiritual statement or a religious belief? What does our spirit say about dancing? Does it feel evil? Are we somehow connecting with dark forces, or is dancing a form of celebration that can be used to enhance our spiritual experience and even our religious experience? Recognizing the difference between religious belief and spiritual living is essential to religious freedom. It doesn’t mean we have to give up religion, but it does mean we can have a religious experience that can enhance our spirits and not divert us from our spiritual journey.
Spend some time considering the difference between being religious versus being spiritual. How does being spiritual define us? How does it set us free? Are there religious situations that would impede our freedom to love and live in peace?
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.