Not all of us are religious, but all of us are spiritual. If you disagree with that, consider what I mean by spirituality. Spirituality is that which makes us appreciate the world around us, the good in the people we encounter, and most importantly, our freedom. That’s why spirituality clashes so much with religion.
The Downside of Religion
Religion is, at its core, limiting to one’s freedom and personal expression. Religion has statutes, limits, and decrees. If you don’t follow the rules or share the same beliefs as everyone else in the group, you’re out. Never mind that asking everyone to believe the same thing is dangerous and that at least some people will lie about what they believe—believing something simply to fit into a group is completely against what makes us human.
Part of our journey as free beings is discovering what makes sense to us and what beliefs define our worldview. If you believe a religion and everything it espouses, you are giving up part of your freedom. As a human being, you are free to think whatever you want about anything—why give that power up to a group that may or may not have your best interests at heart?
Furthermore, religion is often used by big governments to try to control the populace. Many atheists and agnostics believe or at least consider that religion may have been a creation of the government in order to control the people. Look at countries that are run based on religion or on religious books—there is little personal freedom and freedom of thought is punished.
If you do follow a religion, its value is even greater if you choose it fully and independently. When you are forced to believe something or coerced into believing it, who knows how much it truly affects your spirit and being?
Getting Into Spirituality
When you explore your spirituality, you gain all the benefits of religion without any of the oppression and limitations. Religion is based in group-think; spirituality is based in oneself and one’s capabilities. To begin to get to the heart of your spirituality, you need to look at what matters to you and what inspires you. There is so much ugliness in the world; look for what makes you smile and what gives you hope for mankind.
For some people, spirituality is tied to a specific deity or being. Spirituality can be an offshoot of a religion or traditional set of beliefs, altered to fit your views and experiences. This is how it often manifests for people who become jaded with traditional religion or have a bad experience with organized belief.
Spirituality can also be a vague set of feelings and beliefs about the world around you and your place in it. It can be static—something you believe strongly and don’t change—or ever-evolving and growing.
Most importantly, spirituality defines who are at your core. Underneath your job, your place in your family, your standing in society, and your material possessions—your spirituality shapes and guides how you think and act.