Over many centuries, incredible ideas and theories have been presented to try to explain the concept of the universe. These theories then became the basis of different religious beliefs. Today, those beliefs and ideas have expanded even more widely. For our generation though, more people are leaving the ideas of institutionalized religion and concepts taught in churches, and instead choosing to turn to their own inner relationship and understanding of God. When asked if they adhere to any religion, these people will typically say they are “spiritual,” and not religious. But what on earth does that even mean?
Religion and Spirituality
The definition of religion as defined by Merriam-webster is “the service and worship of God or the supernatural” or “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” There are a multitude of religions being practiced today around the world. But the most common are still Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism and Christianity. Aside from different doctrines of faith and customs, essentially these religions all believe:
- One or more deities govern the universe.
- Caring for others and being kind towards one another are essential to nirvana.
- Negative works against humanity like murder, cheating, and gluttony are morally wrong and a work of evil.
I think most of us can agree that these are pretty basic aspects of morality (If you’re alright with the murder part, I don’t know what to tell you. Seek help).
I was raised as a southern Baptist Christian. And I’d like to believe that my upbringing has shaped my moral compass and the person I’ve ultimately grown to become. I do agree with a lot of the values of Christianity, and there are many things I agree with in the Bible. However, there are also many things I don’t agree with. This does not take away from the respect I hold for the institution of Christianity, but these reasons are why I can’t in truth say that I am a Christian because my understanding of divinity has expanded quite beyond this. On my personal spiritual journey, I’ve come to my own realization that one’s relationship with God and the universe can’t truly be boxed into a categorized religion. The universe is so much bigger than that. And increasingly many others around the world are coming to this same conclusion.
But because we don’t feel we are included in any one religion, it feels fraudulent to still call ourselves “religious” beings (even though we are included in the definition, as we just read earlier). Hence the rise of the more colloquial use of the word spiritual, as it seems to explain the focus on the spirit of God without the restriction of religious practice.
In the past, when I’ve used the term “spiritual” to describe my belief in divinity, it has been to explain the process of not adhering to any one religion, not really participating in church, but still praying and meditating, self-reflecting and introspecting on how to be better morally, and ultimately praising a higher being that I call God (whether that’s Jehovah, Allah, or Jesus Christ isn’t too important in my opinion). For many of the people I know, this has been their definition as well. But as I was reading a more recent post on xonecole.com, the term “spirituality” doesn’t always refer to the idea of good spirits:
While I personally do believe that a Satan exists, I know that many don’t. At the same time, I think the majority feels that there are forces of light and forces of darkness all around us. Scripture puts it this way—”For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12—NKJV) Spiritual hosts of wickedness. Spiritual and wicked. Did you notice that? So yeah, it should go–and stay–on record that “spiritual” isn’t automatically synonymous with good, light or beneficial. Any DC or Marvel comic will show you that.” -Shellie R. Warren
So unless you’re out here using your beliefs to conjure evil against people and channel your inner Davina Claire from The Originals, I suppose a better description of this phenomenon could probably be defined as omnism. Omnism is “the recognition and respect of all religions. it is the belief that no religion is truth, but instead, that truth is found within them all.” The idea of omnism (for me at least) is the understanding that one specific religion is not the only way to God. It’s the idea of respecting and acknowledging that the universe God has given us is too vast and incredible beyond our mental capacity for any of us to know entirely, but it applauds the attempt of many religions and faiths for at least seeking to find out.
Is it possible that as humans, we look at our relationship with God in a way that’s too black and white with not enough grey area for humanity? It feels as though throughout history, humans have tainted the purity and sacredness of what and who God is with our over-personification of Him. The way I see God is as a benevolent being that is the epitome of unconditional love. Regardless of whether we’re upset with God, or ignore our relationship with Him, or even choose not to acknowledge His existence at all, He still blesses us and shows us love and care (even if we’re too caught up in their own feelings to see it sometimes). And in my opinion this is because God is not capable of the evil spirit and faulty emotions of humanity that we try to assign him. God does not judge us; humans do that.
We cannot assign God to have all these human emotions in order to personify his existence, and then call him perfect; because humanity is imperfect. What God is to me is something that as humans we can’t possibly imagine the grandiosity of it. But we have to assign some level of personification to such a divinity to even grasp and try to understand all that He is in his splendor and greatness. God is not only a being, but a feeling within us. It’s the inexplicable feeling of joy and peace on a sunny day, or the beautiful phenomenon inside of us that enables us to conceive life so pure. I think people of all religions and creeds can agree on that.
As I draw my rambunctious ideas to a conclusion, remember that the means of how you travel your spiritual journey is not important; it’s the act of making the journey towards growth at all that is essential. Remember to strive to be the best version of yourself that you can, and to love and care for those around you. As long as you’re being the best you can be, the universe will always be bring that same energy back to you in blessings, even when those blessings seem small. Follow your conscious and the inner divinity within you, and let it guide you to a more meaningful life of joy and understanding.
Asé brothas and sistas.