Is your spiritual journey the same as your religious journey, or is religion just one of the facets of your spiritual life?
In breaking through the typologies of the past, Mormonism’s restoration was initially one way to pick up an individual spiritual path again without the cumbersome mores of organized religion. But over time, as the religion has grown and become more bureaucratic, have members abandoned being spiritual for merely being religious?
For the last few decades, Westerners have embraced Eastern thought as a way to regain spirituality that they felt was stifled by organized religion. Based on their observations, spirituality includes:
the search for personal meaning in life
the search to understand one’s own nature and place in the universe
meditations on the nature of God
understanding the good in humanity and personal connections
According to Wikipedia: An important distinction exists between spirituality in religion and spirituality as opposed to religion.
- Spirituality in religion. In recent years, spirituality in religion often carries connotations of a believer having a faith more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the doctrinal/dogmatic faiths of mature religions. It also can connote the nature of believers’ personal relationship or “connection” with their god(s) or belief-system(s), as opposed to the general relationship with a Deity as shared by all members of a given faith. To Christians, referring to one’s self as “more spiritual than religious” implies relative deprecation of rules, rituals, and tradition while preferring an intimate relationship with God and/or talking to Him as one’s best friend. Their basis for this belief is that Jesus Christ came to free man from those rules, rituals, and traditions, giving them the ability to “walk in the spirit” thus maintaining a “Christian” lifestyle through that one-to-one relationship with God.
- Spirituality as opposed to religion. Those who speak of spirituality as opposed to religion generally meta-religiously believe in the existence of many “spiritual paths” and deny any objective truth about the best path to follow. Rather, adherents of this definition of the term emphasize the importance of finding one’s own path to whatever-god-there-is, rather than following what others say works. In summary: the path which makes the most coherent sense becomes the correct one (for oneself). Many adherents of orthodox religions who regard spirituality as an aspect of their religious experience tend to contrast spirituality with secular “worldliness” rather than with the ritual expression of their religion.
- New Age Thought. People of a more New-Age disposition tend to regard spirituality not as religion per se, but as the active and vital connection to a force/power/energy, spirit, or sense of the deep self. As cultural historian and yogi William Irwin Thompson (1938 – ) put it, “Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization.”
So, are Mormons on the whole “Spirituality in Religion” or “Spirituality opposed to Religion” people? What does spirituality mean to you? Does religion help you find your spiritual path or is it a separate but parallel path for you? Do you see purely spiritual pursuits as being in opposition to Mormonism as a religion? Are there elements of religion that stifle your spiritual path? How do you reconcile the two? Discuss.