I’ve been asked a number of times about the difference between religion and spirituality. Since there are increasing numbers of people that claim to be spiritual, but not religious, it’s a valid question.
The way I think about this is that religion is a road map, a set of directions that keeps us on course, but that spiritual consciousness is the evolving journey. We can get preoccupied with the road map and forget we are on a journey. This, unfortunately, is the hypocrisy that we see in some religious practices.
The fact is that spiritual awareness is the unfolding journey we go through in a lifetime. It’s the growing realization that we are all ascending to a view of life that is less personal and more universal, Oneness. Material life is a stage in that evolution. Sometimes holding too tightly to the road map can make us forget that there is a journey under way.
The great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, described his experience of singing as preparing the instrument through years of practice, and then “falling backwards into the arms of God” and allowing the voice to come through him, not from him. This is a perfect description of what we each must learn to do. If you call trusting Universal Consciousness as trusting God, Allah, Jehovah, Natural Order or whatever name you assign to It, surrender without resistance is what paves the way to the journey, the Spiritual Path.
This doesn’t mean that religious practice isn’t valuable. Having a roadmap, a practice, can help us stay on the road. But make no mistake, reading the map isn’t taking the journey. In this day of rapid transformation, too much time contemplating the next step can result in being left behind.
So with our boots on the ground, let us be the well-tuned instruments that manifest the potential which is waiting to be brought to Earth, each in our own time and each in our own fashion. No time to lose.