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Religion & Spirituality

An old friend recently brought up the topic of religion and spirituality with a dose of tentativeness and uncertainty as she thought she might have misunderstandings or that 'never the twain shall meet'. I have other friends who confidently subscribe to one category OR the other. I respect the first friend and probably don't agree with those 'other friends' as I strongly believe that the two categories can intersect and indeed should intersect or should I say 'intercourse' so that we get something new and beautiful!

Religion, described by various dictionaries explains it as this: Action or conduct indicating belief in, obedience to, and reverence for a god, gods, or similar superhuman power with resulting the performance of religious rites or observances. So it's about behaviour and observance and we could add that it builds on the traditions that have been established by others.

Spirituality, (again as an amalgam of dictionary definitions) is: the quality of being connected to the Divine or to spiritual things including to the self. So this is more about a state of being that an individual has that might (or might not) be connected to religion. It doesn't rely on tradition but is more about a contemporary experience that the individual has.

When I practised yoga and also found myself being meditative about 10 years ago (as ways of trying to find peace in a frantic time in my life) I found my faith 'leaked' into these contemporary experiences. My religious understanding and behaviour started to fuse with everyday experience so that I ended up realising my religion was also personal everyday experience. I see this modelled in Jesus who upheld his own Jewish tradition whilst reinterpreting it in the terms of his day. As my model for all that is good - I am trying to do likewise!

The result is not syncretism (for those that might be concerned) but a deep commitment to the Christian tradition and it's central teachings that is outworked as spiritual experience in contemporary forms. For myself these are yoga and meditation but they aren't the only meeting place. Most people have passions and interests in their daily lives and I suggest this is where to explore how God (the God of tradition and good religion) might be experienced.

I think this is the most important and most exciting purpose of everyday living!

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