Before I say anything about Spirituality and spiritualism one must first realize that there is a marked difference between religion and spirituality. The immediate difference between religion and spirituality is that while religion is exclusive- in that one has to subscribe to that one religion at the exclusion of all other religions, faiths, and beliefs, spirituality is inclusive in that any one adherent of any religion can embrace spirituality and retain his or her religious status or place in that religion. Spirituality cuts across religious, cultural, traditional, social-political and academic barriers. In other words, one does not need to abandon one’s religion in order to be a devotee, student or practitioner of spirituality. In this way, religions are limiting but spirituality is not. For this reason one can rightly say that compared to religion, spirituality can be said to be the higher state or consciousness of religion. If it were a coin, the religious side bears limitations of beliefs, faith and dogma and the spirituality side is the mark of infinite consciousness and freedom. “Religion is the manifestation of the divinity which is already present in the human being” said swami Vivekananda. Each soul is potentially divine. To manifest that very divinity within, Man should control his nature externally and internally. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy by one or more or all of these and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines or Dogmas or rituals or books, or temples, or forms, all are but secondary details. The more our bliss is within, the more spiritual we are and let us not depend upon the world of today for pleasure. This is spirituality. Spirituality is one’s character or quality that makes one transcend the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one's connection with the Truth. Spiritualism means to merge with consciousness. Different religions are like different route or means to reach there. It is like you want to go to Delhi you can go by train, flight, or by bus again you can to Delhi via Ahmedabad, or Via Kolkata, or via Nagpur. You will ultimately reach Delhi. Spirituality is a concept and most of the times it is wrongly understood by us mortals. Some think that spirituality is something to be achieved, which means it is external and is not within. Some think that it is to with prayers and offerings to god. Spiritual consciousness is a “depth experience, ”which makes us conscious of the deeper dimensions of life. It is an abiding inner awareness of the inter connectedness of one’s own spirit with the supreme spirit. It is also a cosmic awareness of “one in all and all in one”. Through spiritual consciousness we learn to look beyond and behind the surface reality. The way to attain this very spiritual consciousness is the way to the liberation of the soul through Self-Knowledge is called yoga. Vedanta speaks of four yogas, or paths to the goal: (i) Jnana-Yoga, or the direct way of Knowledge; (ii) Bhakti-Yoga, or the natural way of divine love; (iii) Karma-Yoga, or the practical way of unselfish work; and (iv) Raja-Yoga, or the scientific way of concentration and meditation. The primary road block to SelfKnowledge is the restless mind. The four Yogas are four ways to overcome the

restlessness. Love is the root and the selfless service is the fruit of this very spiritual consciousness or the liberation of the soul. The essence of every religion, fundamentally, is aimed for the attainment of spiritual enlightenment, spiritual consciousness proximity to God, love, compassion, and eternal peace in the life here after. Under such a common definition and understanding, it becomes obvious that religion is bound to be deeply a personal matter in every sense of the word. On the contrary, if religion assumes the characteristics of a doctrine that is primarily concerned with issuing laws on how to offer prayers and how many times, people’s wealth and its distribution, dress code, sex life, punishment for crimes etc, then the whole concept of spirituality loses its Godly element. A religion of such nature, then simply becomes part of human civilization, a political ideology for a group of people who choose to follow a certain social orders and customs. Then we as humans go far away from spirituality and spiritualism. Spirituality is one's character or quality that makes one transcend the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one's connection with the Truth. At this point I would like to say a few words about Islam which is the second largest religion in the world. Does Islam allow an individual’s quest for the knowledge of the existence of God on a personal level, using his own intellect, senses, and wisdom? The answer is a big NO! A Muslim is bound to restrict his freedom of conscience within the frame of Quranic prescriptions. The moment he has questions on metaphysical issues, he is considered an outcast or an apostate. People of other religions, including Christianity and Hinduism has already started shedding their inhibitions or political correctness and are not reluctant to cast their doubts about the origins and contemporary relevance of religious scriptures and belief systems. No authority is interested in issuing “fatwas” against them. But Islam is different. As time passes, Imams and Islamic clergies are becoming more and more powerful enough to tighten their noose around the freedom of thought. In my capacity as a crew flying for an international airline I have been to Jeddah and medina to ferry passengers for annual hajj pilgrimage umpteen number of times. The one thing that I have noticed is that, Medina is a very holy place and the presence of the power that be can be felt and it really makes one self spiritual because there is a flow of positivity of the place to oneself. This flow creates wonder when assimilated. It makes one self humble, It calms the inner aggression of one self, It helps to be in a meditative state where one’s mind becomes thoughtless and one attains spirituality momentarily. Such is the power, or one may say, the quality of that place. The pilgrims returning from this place after the end of the arduous 40days hajj starts squabbling as soon as they board the aircraft over trivialities. I wonder why they cannot bring with them the positive energy and all that they have learnt and practiced for the 40 long days. Somehow and somewhere the concept of spiritual and spirituality is lost. In predominant Western religions the Divine is worshiped as Father but not as Mother. This heavenly Father is often portrayed as a stern, angry or jealous God, a strict judge and giver of punishment to those of his children who violate his

seemingly arbitrary laws. Protestant Christianity and Islam have banished the Divine Mother from their religions. Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christianity have accepted the feminine as the mother of Jesus, not as God in her own right, though it appears that devotion to the Madonna has been the strongest living mystical force within Christianity. Sanatana Dharma as a universal tradition recognizes the importance of the Divine Mother. According to Hinduism the deepest relationship that we can have with God is that of the Mother. No human relationship is closer than that of the mother and child. It best mirrors our relationship with God. India itself is looked upon as the Mother. The Hindu religion itself is regarded as a mother and its teachings are her milk. Sanatan dharma, The backbone of Hinduism is basically a way of life based on nature and universe where every particle that constitute the universe and nature has a soul and is connected to the divine and hence everything has to be respected and revered. Sanatan dharma developed over time and there is no one person or a startup date for this religion. It is based on observations of heavenly bodies and their characters and the effect that it has on the population, environment, and behavioral patterns of each and every particle that constitutes nature and universe. This Sanatan Dharma is what the western scholars call as paganism. The concept of Spirituality and spiritualism should therefore be that every person is a wondrous, sacred, creation. Every plant, rock, tree, everything seen and unseen, is unique and beautiful. The purpose of life as seen should therefore be to live in harmony with nature, to develop our personal and spiritual potential, and to be aware of and to manifest the inherent divinity within us all. This holds true for every one and for every religion. Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Bahai, Christianity, every other religion the concept of spirituality is no different. Spirituality is a matter of contemplative meditation designed to bring the practitioner to the point of vacating his physical body at will, merge his mind into Universal Mind realm and remain in his or her pure spiritual form as a Spirit (of God) in its pristine nature and then traverse higher spiritual planes until one re-merges into divine union with the Supreme Being and become one with that Being even as one still dwells in this world doing his work and taking care of family and social responsibilities.

TAGS: religion,spirituality,spiritualism,islam,Jainism,budhism,Christianity,mind,realm,Sikhis m,bahai,divine,harmony,nature,

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