Religiosity vs. Spirituality

Most of us at one time or another have made the mistake of assuming that religions primarily exist to cultivate and promote human spirituality.  But that is not true.  Religions deal with spirituality primarily by distracting, insulating, and misleading people.  They deal with spirituality mainly by pointing people away from whatever real spirituality they might possibly have.  All religions — as actually practiced — do that.  If you want a spiritual life, then religions are not your friends.  You can cherry pick a few bits of wisdom from them, but for the most part — for most of all they do — they are little more than bullshitting you.  That at least, is how I see it.  Your mileage might vary.

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6 thoughts on “Religiosity vs. Spirituality

  1. Religions are there to trigger controlled spiritual experiences and capture and redirect the energy of those experiences and to press it into the service of the social institution that is the religion. Once the initial experience is captured, the purpose of religion becomes fostering obedience and actually limiting further spiritual experience to lock followers in at a certain level of spiritual and emotional development.

    As Carl Jung put it: “Religion is a system to protect us from the experience of God.”

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  2. I agree. I see spirituality as a process of discovering oneself and living with integrity — true to ourselves. It encompasses feelings of being connected with nature and other human souls.

    To the extent religion requires conformity with an ideal, it suppresses self-discovery and thus, spirituality.

    And @ discordianknot: Excellent quote from Jung.

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  3. In a word, I disagree. I think some faith traditions foster a growing spiritual growth and work very hard to help. They also focus and direct good works for good causes. They serve as safe places in times of need.

    I like the word spiritual, use it often, and generally haven’t had a bone to pick with those who claim spiritual but not religious. Far be it from me to assume anything about the state of mind of another, but frankly, I think “I’m spiritual” has come to mean, “I don’t want to admit I don’t think about God or any of that stuff hardly ever.But I think of myself as a basically good person.”
    Which is fine, but hardly what being spiritual is all about.

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    • Your perspective fascinates me, Sherry. I hadn’t thought “spirituality” had come to mean what you say it means, but now that you mention it — I can see that’s how the word is all too often used.

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    • I’d be curious to know which faith traditions have earned the merit badge of “fostering a growing spiritual growth.” I see more room for “growth” in the Buddhist tradition than most others, for example, but that may be a case of the grass being greener (not much Buddhism where I grew up), and I was fairly depressed the day I came to understand that Buddhists are schismatic and authoritarian in many parts of the world, same as other faiths.

      Philosophers have emerged in every belief system, but they appear to me to be a sliver minority compared to the numbers of people who latch onto a faith as a substitute for thinking and then try to trim and cram every new experience or inconvenient fact into that system. I’m watching a nice, bright, intelligent woman go through seminary at the moment, and it’s sad to see the class time wasted trying to assign some validity, however tortured, to Old Testament scriptures that conflict with not only fact but simple human decency.

      It may be difficult to find a way to overcome the need of many people for a comfortable, accessible superstition around which to base their moral decisions (and I love a good story as much as anyone), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a desirable goal.

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