These days, I consider myself a spiritual person – but I’m not religious. Never have been, and it never crossed my mind that being one thing meant you were the other. But the lines are blurry and the word “Spirituality” means different things to different people. So, is spirituality the same as religion?
This whole line of thinking came around from a conversation I had with one of my business mentors. We were discussing what differentiated what I do from what other people in my field do. One of the things I mentioned was Spirituality. “Interesting,” my mentor said. “That instantly makes me think Church, and I know that’s not what you mean.”
She was right. For me, Spirituality is not the same as religion and doesn’t necessarily bring Church to mind for me. So, what is Spirituality?
An umbrella term
That got me thinking. What do I mean? What am I trying to convey? What I’ve discovered is that I use this word as an umbrella term for a number of quite complex concepts in order to define something that is essentially indefinable.
Spirituality, is a concept that is richly textured and nuanced. It has many layers of meaning and experience that encompass other densely structured areas of human understanding. From science to philosophy, from religion to New Age ideologies, from faith and devotion to sacred practices.
Where to begin?
So, let’s start simple. A quick Google search throws up this definition:
“The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”
On the surface that pretty much covers it. But if we unpack that definition, we need to create an understanding of “spirit” and “soul”. While we’re at it, we may as well clarify “material” and “physical things” too.
Let’s start with an immediate step into the unquantifiable and indefinable area of humanity’s understanding of who and what we are.
Spirit is the substance of Cosmic Consciousness.
Start thinking in terms of light, energy or vibration. I use these terms interchangeably because the word Spirit is loaded for many. From a point of origin – Source (Cosmic Consciousness) – all energy (Spirit) joyously radiates and fills the Universe. This energy interconnects and penetrates all things.
As the light/energy/vibration (Spirit) moves further away from Source its vibration becomes slower and denser, ultimately forming life and matter.
These layers of changing vibration house innumerable frequencies. Some of which we identify as Archetypal energies such as Ascended Masters, ArchAngels and Angels, Goddesses and Gods, Elementals and Spirit Guides.
Soul is the endpoint of Spirit
As Spirit streams out from Source, individual rays “separate” creating life as they intersect with the Spirit-become-matter of Earth. At this level of frequency, Spirit becomes Soul, enfolded in the elements of Earth, interpreted as an individual human.
As a Soul wrapped in the physicality of human life, we remain at essence the substance of Cosmic Consciousness. We are a Soul that is for this moment (lifetime) the Earth expression of a particular Spirit light.
Why the split?
One understanding of Cosmic Consciousness is that it is on a never-ending exploration of existence, constantly sending parts of itself out to experience “life” and having them return. This experience mixes in the collective pool of understanding, enriching Cosmic Consciousness, in an ongoing, never-ending process: moving from one to many and back to oneness again.
There is no split… it’s just the perspective of the “intersection entity” (human personality or ego) that we are individual, separate and constantly divided.
Is Spirituality the same as Religion?
That pretty much wraps up what I mean when I use the term “Spirituality”. Having said that though, there’s no doubt that there are essential truths and devotional practices belonging to the philosophical frameworks of both concepts leading to similarities between the two. But from my perspective, is spirituality the same as religion? No.
For me, spirituality is a fluid concept that evolves as your personal understanding matures. Religion has elements of the same, but, again this is from my perspective, it is a more static concept with defined boundaries around the understanding of sprituality.
As I suspected, this is way too big a conversation to have in one article. So, I’m splitting it up. In the next article in this series, I’ll explore “material” and “physical things”.