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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Religion and Spirituality by Mary Mageau

Hello Friend,

The following article on "Religion and Spirituality" is an excellent article, discussing the differences between religion and spirituality while relating these ideas to the New Earth. Enjoy...

We are living in a time of shifting paradigms. Many of the established religions, including Christian churches of all denominations, are currently witnessing an erosion of their memberships. Fewer people today look to the traditional religions and the churches for answers to their contemporary problems. Is this because the profoundly simple words of our great original teachers have been subsumed into an overbearing and controlling man made culture of fixed rules, regulations, rituals and dogmas? Consider the fact that Jesus Christ was never a Christian, Buddha was not a Buddhist, nor was Mohammed a Muslim. And while the traditional religions continue to lament their decline, the roots and branches of a vibrant new spirituality are forming everywhere. Another pathway is being chosen and experienced by many persons world wide.

This new spirituality is expressing itself in the following ways: caring more actively for the environment, exploring Eastern religions and the practice of meditation, espousing social justice concerns, balancing male and female energies in all aspects of decision making, seeking a more abundant economic system for all and employing peaceful negotiation as a counter-balance to warfare. This new spirituality is growing steadily and powerfully today as our established cultural, political and economic systems all appear to fail us. Because our contemporary experiences of alienation are so overwhelming, a deep desire for a strong personal connection to a sacred presence within us, to our social structures and to nature itself is driving these changes forward.

History reveals that during times of great change people head for the two extremes: either choosing fundamentalism of beliefs or a deeply personal spiritual experience. With no membership lists or even a coherent philosophy or dogma, it is difficult to define or measure the unorganized new spiritual movement. But in every major city, thousands who seek greater insight and personal growth now cluster around metaphysical bookstores and internet websites, a spiritual teacher or an education/meditation centre. A longitudinal study undertaken from 1991 to 1995, shows that practitioners of the new spirituality represent a steady 20% of the population and consistently fall within the third largest religious group.

The new spirituality movement is in a class by itself. Unlike most established religions it has no holy text, central organization, formally constituted clergy, no geographic centre, creed or dogma. It is a free flowing spiritual movement, a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices. Their book and magazine publishers and a plethora of web sites take the place of a central organization. Seminars, conventions, books, informal study, prayer and meditation groups all replace traditional sermons and religious services. These new practices are often freely grafted onto whatever formal religious faith is still adhered to. In the coming new age we may even witness the fusion of spirituality with science and the unifying of the major religions. This will be achieved by re-focusing on all the simple but profound truths that are commonly held among the great religions, while pruning away all the man made dogmas, cultural beliefs and rules that divide and separate us. Many of the old outmoded teachings are already being discarded. The love-based empowering religious beliefs will be retained while the fear-based controlling concepts will fall by the wayside. In future the religions that survive are those that are willing to expand their philosophy and theology to incorporate the higher Creator truths. And while it may seem that established religions and the new spirituality exist at opposite ends of the spectrum no opposition needs to exist between the two. But before considering this further, let us first define a religionist and then a spiritualist.

A religionist is a person who follows a codified doctrine or dogma in blind faith without questioning it. The religionist also obeys a set of rules or a text (the Bible, Torah, Koran etc.) to guide one’s every move. In the world of a religionist the Creator is viewed as an all powerful male being, singular in itself that rules over human awareness and watches every move to judge the worthiness of each participant. Those who are designated to speak for this power determine that which is right or wrong. The religionists believe that the Creator will do everything for them and if they give their best, their reward will be to ascend into heaven where joy and beauty abound.

A spiritualist is one who realizes that human society is in a constant state of evolutionary change, thus he or she must continue to resolve the possibilities that every new opportunity brings. As each life experience contains a learning lesson, the self-imposed beliefs of others must not be allowed to dissuade the potentiality of one’s evolution. To the spiritualist, the Creator is the Omni Presence of all light in creation and is held within each human and all things that exist. In order to return to the fullness of the Creator’s Light the learning of all lessons must be experienced with every possible encounter met and completed. Each one must develop fully and heal through the awakening of the love essence within.

The religionist believes in the ‘Spirit of One,’ - the acceptance of a fixed belief as the universal ideal for all. But against the walls of established dogma new experiences, awareness and teachings frequently collide and new insights are excluded. While these people may worship, study and strengthen their minds, obedience to the rules and defense of the walls becomes their purpose. Militancy is their virtue and evangelizing for converts their activity. Fear and prejudice against others frequently results. The motto of the religionist may be, ‘Only we have the truth.’ Because of their rigid adherence to a set of fixed and unchanging beliefs their minds will continue to remain tightly closed.

The spiritualist believes in the ‘Oneness of Spirit.’ The new spirituality is the opposite of established religion in that it is holistic rather than dualistic, incarnational rather than transcendental, inclusive rather than patriarchal, environmental rather than anthropocentric and democratic rather than hierarchical. Since each human soul is known to be a particle of the Creator’s Light we must return to a remembering that all was brought to life in love. One believes and knows that separation from the Creator’s essence is only an illusion. We then understand that we have never left the Creator’s Light because we are that very Light ourselves. The spiritualist will not impose a set of beliefs upon another as it is believed that the Creator wishes to experience infinite variations on the theme of spirituality. The motto of the spiritualist may well be, ‘Let all the flowers bloom in their individual truth and beauty.’

And so in our daily lives many of us freely assume our own co-creative powers and honor our own creations by choosing to experience different journeys on the Earth plane. And within the great Creator’s light of which we are all a part and there is only the unity of love, then we might perceive this experience as a matrix in space and time wherein humanity is encouraged to experience and play out every possibility. A new sense of responsible freedom will emerge as we acknowledge the Creator’s respect for the free will decisions of all its creations. And so the choice of the religionist is one journey and the choice of the spiritualist is another. In the Father’s house there are many mansions and the focus and experiences of either journey can be freely chosen for the particular growth possibilities each provides. Neither one journey is better than the other as all paths hold the potential to lead us to the fullness of the Creator’s light and love.

The Buddhist concept of the Middle Path is very consistent with the new spirituality that is emerging today. The following quote by an unknown author sums this up so well. “The middle path is inclusive of the opposites without being controlled by one or the other. It values both - the positive and the negative, the higher and the lower. This new spirituality that is seeking to manifest is a challenge to the consciousness of people who are caught either in the old religious dichotomies, or in reactions to the old style religions. The traditional religious dichotomies describe reality in terms of right and wrong, good and evil, with specific belief systems clearly defining which is which. Those who take the opposite stance of discrediting these views maintain that there are no such objective standards, or at least not in the way they are traditionally defined.

Instead the new spirituality avoids any judging of opposites and finds value in all expressions of life. It understands that whatever exists is part of the whole, and therefore is meaningful in terms of potential learning for us humans. Much of what people see as wrong or evil is a great challenge to our selfishness and ignorance, urging us toward compassion and understanding. It is not a matter of identifying what is wrong and trying to eradicate it, but to discover what the lessons are and learn from them. The so-called negative side of life exists as a means of teaching us what we would not otherwise be challenged to learn. And if we learn what we are challenged to learn, the negative no longer needs to be present for its purpose has been served. Through our learning we are then capable of expanding our consciousness and being of greater service to others. Thus the middle path is the valuing of all things, all people and all experiences as a useful and even necessary part of the wholeness of life.”

Mary Mageau, the author of this article, hosts a free monthly e-newsletter called "Insights". If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to containing your name and email adress.

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