Religion and Spirituality
by Meera Datta
A definition of Religion and Spirituality is difficult, a little vague and often ambiguous.
By being extremely religious, namely observing all the prescribed rituals in the texts and holding up traditional customs and habits and of course visiting temples and undertaking pilgrimages: is this spirituality or just religiosity.
Spirituality is often deemed as ‘of the spirit’. Which spirit, the human spirit or the silent spirit surrounding us which no one has seen but many have felt? Or is the collective human spirit that propels us into a spiritual atmosphere of seeking and finding peace from the outside?
Definitions have often been the mainstay to explain the meaning of anything. But philosophy and its many values based on various religions, various races and tribes, different cultures, defy universal definition. Over the centuries it has been tried, and an entire body of works are produced. Yet, why is it when it comes to personal peace or even that of a society a city or a country, it is lacking. History is replete with stories of wars for power. Today power is economy. In this milieu where do we all stand with reference to God? Churches and temples and mosques are desecrated not in the name of power of the economy but very much in the name of religion are they connected. In fact, it is religious bigots who are doing this and causing mayhem though rituals and texts prescribe none of this.
In everyday life, we see that Religion and God perhaps are the only two stable factors that make masses survive all disasters. Have you seen the earnest way in which the poorest of the poor spend on gods and rituals? My domestic help scrimps and saves only to have a pooja performed in her husband's name to cure his alcoholism. With the same faith, the moneyed perform expensive pujas for their well-being. Atheists and agnostics, of course, pooh pooh these practices as useless and irrational. Some claim to be spiritualists. To my mind, the religious practises are a step to discipline the human spirit toward the spirit of the Universe that protects man. Is that really invisible? Don’t we learn the best of lessons from it and ‘find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.’
I have always wondered. Are they the same? Religion and spirituality. I would love to know what other’s perceptions are ………………. ***