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What It Means to Be Spiritual and Not Religious


I write this as I attend the Unity People’s Convention in Overland Park, Kansas. The theme of this year’s annual gathering is “Back to the Future” and the participants include spiritual leaders, teachers, and Unity congregants.


As the convention was underway, I thought back to when I learned about this New Thought/Ancient Wisdom philosophy and how this teaching appeals to people who are spiritual, but not religious. I recalled wondering what it means when someone says, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” That's an interesting concept. Particularly considering over 56 million people in America don’t identify with any religion. Yet, a significant number of these non-religious folks see themselves as spiritual. So, what gives?


Being religious often includes cultural systems and adherence to doctrines, rules, and regulations established and passed on within religious organizations. One purpose of following these rules is to gain access to a higher power to improve one's life condition. Such rule adherence includes sending prayers to the deity of one's choice, hoping God hears those prayers, and believing that something good will happen because of those prayers.


The spiritual person believes God is not someone far away sitting in judgment waiting to see if we practice good deeds. Instead, God sits in the heart of everyone and is always ready to give of itself totally and completely. We heighten our awareness of God as we engage our spiritual tools; there is never a need to convince others of a particular point of view.


Another distinction between religious and spiritual is that the former only gives credence to someone else's divinity, and the latter believes in experiencing their inner god power.


The New Thought/Ancient Wisdom teachings fall into the category of being a spiritual rather than a religious movement. I came to accept that whatever path one chooses is right for them, and that the universe is big enough for more than one way to relate to this presence called God.


However, those on the spiritual path are on a journey of self-discovery to become aware of their oneness with the power, presence, and love of Spirit. Along this path of self-discovery and awakening, the gifts, talents, and capacities within us are set free and expressed. The journey begins with the realization that inner awareness determines our experience. The rest of the world frequently seeks to change things outside of themselves. However, those on the spiritual path seek to develop a purified inner awareness to realize their oneness with God. Everything anyone could ever want, hope for, or desire exists in that realization.


As we walk the spiritual path, we learn more and more that the filters through which we see life determine our experience of the world. In other words, the thought patterns, opinions, points of view, positions, and how we see life dictate our understanding of reality. Our goal is to develop a magnificent, sweet, and pure inner world. It's already there. Often that inner world is cluttered with experiences from the past, unresolved guilt, lack of self-worth, and self-doubt or fear and worry. The magnificence already lies within us. Our work is to remove anything that is blocking this realization.


We are here to do the inner work. Not just read about it. Not just believe in it, but to do it. As we do, we realize that wherever we are, God is there, and indeed all is well.


Peace and Blessings,

James

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