Religion & Spirituality Apr 2, 2014 6:05:46 GMT 5.5
Post by Amritha Varshini on Apr 2, 2014 6:05:46 GMT 5.5
Religion & Spirituality
We often come across the two terms, religion and spirituality. Generally people have very confused ideas about these two important terms. They use these two terms quite often out of context. I think religion is a subject that pertains to our relation with outside world and spirituality is a subject that pertains to our relation with ourselves.
The world is an indispensible element in our life. Our life consists of our relation with the external world. Though the world is a myth according to Adi Sankara, having born in this world, we are forced to live in it and deal with it in the best way possible. How to conduct ourselves in our dealing with the world? It is this question the religion answers by setting certain standards of conduct. Just as Hindu religion has certain values and principles known as Sanatana Dharma, other religions like Islam and Christianity also stipulate certain principles and values to be followed. The follower of each religion is supposed to adhere to these principles in respect of his relation with the external world.
While religion deals with our external relation, spirituality deals with our internal relation. Spirituality is more important because it deals with the subject and religion is less important because it deals with the object. The subject is more important than the object because unless the subject is known, the object cannot be known. In order to know the external world, one should know himself first. It is here the value of spirituality is emphasized.
Every human has two aspects, the physical and spiritual. While physical growth depends on external factors, spiritual growth depends on internal factor. Unless he grows spiritually first, whatever progress that he makes on the material front would be useless.
How to grow spiritually is a question that many saints and scriptures have answered in elaborate terms. The problem comes when we identify ourselves with the body and mind and totally ignore the spirit within. When the mind is allowed to have a free run, it takes you to the world outside and binds you with the objects of the world. It is the mind which brings the wrong concept of ‘I am the body”. One should understand that he does not constitute his body or mind and his real identity consists in the spirit, the Atman within.
Religion may help us to conduct ourselves decently in the world but ultimately our salvation lies in following the path of spirituality. Spirituality is nothing but introspecting within and enquiring. If one enquires seriously “Who Am I?” , he would realize that he is neither the body, nor the mind and nor the intellect. As the enquiry proceeds with the power of reasoning, he would realize that he is the ever existing reality which is beyond the body or mind which is the reflection of the eternal reality, the Brahman.
Religion may help us to take the first step towards knowing God but it will not necessarily take us to God. Actually, God has no religion. God is beyond religion. He is indescribable but we try to describe him by composing songs and hymns. He is limitless but we try to limit him within the walls of the temple or a church. He does not reside in far off mountains or above sky. All that we have to do to find him and experience him is to look within. He resides right in our heart, shining brilliantly as the Atman within and spirituality alone helps us to achieve this.
Let us adopt religion as a stepping stone to reform our conduct and to kindle the spirit of love in our heart but ultimately our liberation lies in adopting spirituality which helps us to know not what God is but ‘Who Am I?”. Let us seek the guidance of a Guru. Let us seek the assembly of saints, the Satsang. Let us listen to the enlightened discourse being done by saints so that the spirituality within us is awakened.
Article by Sri V.S. Krishnan (firstname.lastname@example.org)