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Religion and Spirituality

Religions often provide a standardized guide to how we should relate to life. More experienced practitioners often hand off customs that often function like rules. There are books that can be reprinted and handed out to people. There can be traditions, symbols, sayings, practices and experts more able to pass along the wisdom of its system.

The big difference between spirituality and religion is that spirituality is where our need to make sense of life exists and religion is an attempt to fulfill that need. Some religions tell us to believe in a single God. Some tell us there are several gods to believe in. Some tell us there have been especially enlightened people among us as examples of perfect human behavior. Some try to get us to focus on ourselves and becoming more intentional with our approach to life.

Religious zealots and fanatics defend their belief systems despite obvious doubt or lack of clarity. For some, religion fulfills their need to feel safe in life so strongly that they cannot face any possible denial that what they believe might not be entirely correct. This defensiveness can make religion seem like more of a problem than a solution. However, this is more about the person and their need to have a “right” life than it is about the religious beliefs themselves.

There can be just as zealous a move against religion. There are plenty of people who construct logical arguments to counter specific aspects of beliefs. Such arguments are merely beliefs of their own, although the people who speak them think of themselves as merely “rational”. However, beliefs can only be beliefs when supported by observable facts. Often times, the nature of belief defies the ability to establish views through fact one way or the other.

No matter if one is a believer or not, religion is one way to satisfy the need to make sense of life and establish a relationship or a kind of understanding. It can be useful to explore religious beliefs and see if they fit within ones life. A person may come away with a sense of peace if they can see useful and inspiring truth in what they learn.

I think it is better to use religion as a guide rather than a rule book to measure appropriateness or success. This helps prevent zealotry or fanaticism. It also keeps the focus on spirituality rather than religion and therefore keeps the focus on the relationship rather than personal perfection. In this way, people can maintain a spiritual path that may lead them in as many directions as necessary to achieve a healthy relationship with life rather than constantly struggling against judgment of imperfection.

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