Spirituality Vs Religion
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So I have noticed a massive blow up in esoteric practices such as astrology, tarot, energy healing, etc. over the last 5-10 years. It's almost as if it is becoming somewhat of a trend! I do remember a time, say around ten years ago, where I kept my interest and fascination with esoteric practices a secret due to being judged and criticized, as I do recall a few years ago these practises were not as widely accepted. When I would talk about astrology, people would look at me funny, when I would whip out my tarot deck they would get as far away from me as possible. Over time I have noticed that people are becoming more open and receptive to these practices. Why is it, that now in the new age, Spirituality and consciousness is growing so big and becoming more widely accepted? Is it due to it being a fad, and it is being influenced by social media such as Instagram, or are we as human beings, finally waking up?
A Pew Research Center survey showed that millennials are less attached to organized religion than their parents or grandparents were at the same age. Only 40 percent still practice organized religion. That leaves 60 percent of Millenials that do not identify with a religion.
It seems that more and more people are moving away from orthodox religions and putting their trust and faith in esoteric practices. Many say they are not religious, but they are "spiritual". Each person has their own expression of their Spirituality.
What is Spirituality? Here are some definitions of Spirituality:
"Certain kinds of activity through which a person seeks meaning, especially a "search for the sacred. It may also refer to personal growth, blissful experience, or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension" (Wikipedia);
The experience or expression of the sacred" (adapted from Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 1967);
"The search for transcendent meaning" as expressed in religious practice. It can be expressed in relationship with "nature, music, art, philosophy, or relationships with friends and family" (Astrow et al. 2001);
"The search for meaning in life-events and a yearning for connectedness to the universe" (Coles 1990);
"A person's experience of, or a belief in, a power apart from his or her own existence" (Mohr 2006);
VOX released statistics stating that more and more people are identifying with Spirituality over religion, with only 18% identifying with a religion, and 29% identifying with being spiritual. What is the difference between religion and Spirituality?
Many people feel that religion teaches you to find a purpose in a higher entity, but one thing it does not teach you is how to find yourself. Religion's goal is to help a person live a pure life. However, times have changed, and the teachings of religions have become misinterpreted and warped to a point where it is not relatable in the modern-day and age to a modern human.
What is the purpose of religion?
The purposes of the practice of a religion are to achieve the goals of salvation for oneself and others, and (if there is a God) to render due worship and obedience to God. Different religions have different understandings of salvation and God. - The Purpose of Religion
The main difference between religion and Spirituality in the modern-day and age is that Spirituality is more centered around being connected with yourself, the universe, and the world. Spirituality encourages the concept of "oneness", regardless of who you are. It seems that many religions, although their intention was to connect people with themselves and bring them a higher understanding, they are failing at this, and are focused on getting people to worship a god, or an entity, as opposed to aiding individuals toward a spiritual truth and a sense of oneness. People are now putting their faith into incense, meditation, and crystals and gemstones. Why are people moving away from religion?
A big reason why people are moving away from religion is due to not connecting with it, and their views evolving over time. If they go to church, they get told they need to accept God or whatever entity they worship into their lives, and everything will be hanky dory. The error here is that religion in the new age has it all wrong. Religion in ancient times was very focused on purifying the human existence, and the human soul. If you look at it in retrospect, both spiritual, esoteric practices and religion have the same goal in mind, and that is to connect you with yourself and bring you an understanding of life. Over time, the main goal of religion has been lost and misinterpreted, and it is now focused on the worship of an external entity. The reason why religion is falling at this is that it has become a business for many and a form of control. People are also becoming more and more aware and informed, and they question everything now with unlimited access to information.
Many religions still use tactics of fear to get followers to stay.
When a person is threatened with fear, and when they are restricted in terms of their actions and freedom, it is the definition of trying to control that person and instill fear in them. This is something religion teaches. "Don't be yourself" "You will be punished for having certain desires" "You have to live your life a certain way to be respected" "You will burn in hell if you do this"... It does not focus on teaching the individual why they have those impulses and desires, and how to work through purifying themselves not to have those desires anymore. Religion just disregards bad behavior as "bad" and does not give answers as to why those emotions are present in the 1st place. Us human beings are complex, and we have negative thoughts, feelings, and inclinations that stem from our childhood and experiences. We cannot just ignore or disregard these negative inclinations because they are "evil, or bad", we need to understand why. Spirituality and spiritual practices are focused around the why we are the way we are, and healing so that you can understand why you had those thoughts and impulses, and understanding yourself better to purify yourself.
I was a Christian for 15 years of my life, and while I was a Christian, I was told not to question anything. Are you questioning God? You will burn in hell! Religions use this fear tactic of not being allowed to question anything, and to just accept it or you will be punished. This fear tactic stops a lot of people from exploring their own inner spiritual truth.
How is a person supposed to find trust, connection, and meaning in life, if they are not allowed to explore all the avenues of themselves if they are told that who they are is wrong, and they are not allowed any freedom? This is where religion has it wrong. Religion uses fear tactics to scare people from knowing themselves truly. The method to help a person come to connect with themselves and the universe is not through threatening them, it's not through limiting them, or controlling them.
New age spiritual practices teach us to accept ourselves in full. To accept our bad sides, our good sides, and to not reject and see our bad side as something negative, but to use it to harness awareness of ourselves so that we can encourage our good side more. When we are told to disregard the "bad" "evil" sides of ourselves, we are suppressing an essential part of who we are, and this is why so many people live their lives in great unhappiness. Because they were told to not be who they are, and disregard certain sides to their core essence.
The majority of society was exposed to spiritual topics and esoteric practices during the "hippy" movement in the 1960s and 1970s. During the hippy movement was the 1st time that society started to become more open, liberal, and less conservative. This was when people started opening their minds to new ideas and questioning everything, whereas in the past they weren't able to question anything. The amount of fear instilled into people back then was massive, and society basically fought back by letting go of all the inhibitions and saying, "accept it, this is who we are." In my opinion, this was the start of spiritual evolution, and the hippy movement was an important stepping stone that got us to where we are now.
Uranus was in Libra from October 1968 until September 1975, and this stimulated significant changes in social justice, diplomacy, music, and the arts. Uranus in Libra was the facilitator of the hippy movement, and also bringing equality to all, regardless of their interests. Libra is the sign of peace, love, and harmony, and peace, and love was the slogan of the hippy movement.
Spirituality is severely changing over time. Now, you can get any kind of reading or advice you desire through the touch of a button! Technology has evolved and allowed us not even to have to leave our house to get involved with the spiritual community. This ease of access makes it much easier for those who are not as socially evolved and extroverted as others. In the past, spiritual people were seen as "weirdos", who would never leave their house, only hang out in nature, and only hangs out with other weirdos. Nowadays, having an interest in esoteric or spiritual topics is widely accepted, and there are massive communities people can join with tons of like-minded people. Don't get me wrong; there are still your odd members from conservative families and backgrounds that will still yell "witch!" when you offer them a tarot reading when you see they are having a bad day, or offer them a quartz necklace to calm their busy mind. Still, more people are aware of it now through the help of the media and the internet.
Spirituality also took off when personal wellness and wellbeing took off. The two kind of go hand in hand. One cannot have a healthy mind without a healthy body, and you can't have a healthy body without a healthy mind. When society started becoming aware of the adverse effects of living unhealthy and started encouraging a healthy lifestyle, it started pushing people toward the right path of Spirituality as well.
We are also going through tremendous amounts of pressure and anxiety as a society in this day and age. My parents can debate all they want, they never had the pressures us Millenials and gen z's have nowadays. The constant pressure to perform and complete the job is real, and with technology evolving so fast, we as humans are expected to keep up with it! Over the past 20-30 years, things have changed tremendously in the workforces, and the rate and pace at which we are expected to perform are increasing. How do we keep up with this? This constantly evolving pace at which people are expected to perform is causing so many people to develop mental illnesses, depression, and anxiety. People are ignoring the needs of their physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing to keep up with a continually growing fast-paced society.
Meditation, yoga, and chanting "om Shanti" seems to do the trick for many to release their high levels of stress! When we are in a society that is so fast-paced, and our population is riddled with anxiety and depression, going to church on a Sunday and saying your night time prayer doesn't do the trick to take the edge off in many cases. Maybe it was enough in the past. However, times are drastically changing.
Spirituality teaches us how to be humans again. It teaches us how to connect with ourselves, which is something that we do not get encouraged to do anywhere else. A Lot of people go through mental agony, they go through trauma, distress, heartache, despair, and they cannot find help or answers to soothe what they are going through. The main cause of suffering is not being connected with yourself, as once you are connected with yourself, you will understand yourself, and you will not cause your own suffering anymore. To many people, spiritual practices give them the answers they have to the questions, "how can I be happy?" "How can I find myself?" "Who am I really?"
Many people are breaking away from their family traditions and religions in search of a higher spiritual truth. People are starting to realize that they need to find their own inner truth and that their truth cannot be governed by other people, and others cannot tell them how they should live their lives.
Many Religions restrict self-expression. It stops a person from being their authentic self and molds them into something else. If you do not follow their beliefs, and you are different, you will be ridiculed. Spirituality allows you to have control over yourself and your mindset. In a bad mood? Grabbing some sage, putting on a peaceful mantra playlist, and holding onto your clear quartz does wonder. Spirituality brings a community to someone who will accept them for who they are. If they feel bad about themselves, they can help improve it, but generally, in the spiritual community, a person is not ridiculed for being different. If they are, then they are in the wrong spiritual community.
According to a 2016 public religion research survey, 24 percent of Americans do not associate with a religion. This has gone up 8 percent in the last five years, which indicates a definite rise. The majority of people that are moving away from religion are the younger generations.
In a survey done by vox, they asked people where they received the highest sense of community and feeling oneness. The answer that came in 1st was family and friends, with Spirituality coming in 2nd, and religion coming in 3rd. Work comes in 4th.
WE REALLY NEED SPIRITUALITY IN THIS DAY AND AGE! These are the reasons why:
People are losing touch with themselves. They do not know who they are. We need spiritual teachers to help these people to come to understand themselves.
The world is becoming a dark place, with all the crime and murder and rape going on. People need to realize how their actions are causing harm around them. The main reason people harm others is due to a lack of awareness of themselves and others.
People are becoming more and more greedy, and disregarding human life for the sake of money and economic growth. Spirituality teaches that greed is the root of all evil, and it teaches to not feed into it, and cause suffering around you.
The world is becoming more and more superficial, with the focus being more on physical appearance, as opposed to the soul. If more people start focusing on the evolution of their soul, and less on their appearance, we can do wonders in this world.
When practicing spiritual practices, make sure that it is practiced in its most natural, pure, and traditional form. These practices are sacred, and they should be treated with the utmost respect.
Yoga, meditation, and horoscope apps are blowing up. Access to spiritual tools is vaster than it was ever before. You can also find a gemstone shop or a spiritual shop likely in most neighborhoods now. Amazon has recently started sending out monthly horoscopes to its premium users. Dating apps also now allow people to filter potential dates according to their zodiac signs! People are really opening themselves up to new things, and it is great!
I do believe that Spirituality also became big when Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra entered the scene back in the early 2000s. These two have become somewhat mainstream spiritual leaders. I have noticed a massive influx of their teachings and beliefs in the western spiritual scene.
I have heard many people say," I've been seeing a psychologist for years, and they could not teach me the things that my spiritual guru taught me. ". It does seem that our system is failing people. A lot of people, such as psychologists, are worn out and energetically spent as they cannot keep up with the demand of people that are in states of anxiety and depression. It is impossible for another person who is energetically spent, to help another person.
Self-improvement and self-empowerment are taking over the world. The time of living in the dark, the time of sleeping, is now over. Finding yourself and reaching peace and happiness requires you to reach a highly spiritual state, where your anxiety and negative thoughts are not present in you anymore. Religion has failed to get people into this state, and people are now taking it into their own hands to get themselves there. Mental health problems are on the rise in our society. We are in a system that feeds off the suffering of certain people, for the benefit and financial growth of others. There are a handful of incredibly unenlightened, greedy individuals at the top running the show, and these individuals are the ones that are creating a system where people are not allowed freedom. They have to be slaves, in essence.
The system is created to keep people away from tapping into their higher energy and their creative sides. If you have to apply the majority of your focus onto your work, and you have to be there from 8-5, there is very little time for you to pursue your own dreams or your own projects. You spend all your energy working for someone else, and you never work to create your own dream. We are in a system that has been designed to make a small number of people rich based on the hard work of other people, who earn very little for their efforts.
One of the best ways to break out of this system, and to see the lie they have been telling us, is through Spirituality and connecting with yourself again. One is usually blinded by fear, until you are able to take the blindfold off and see that you have been limiting yourself through your own fear, through what others have been telling you.
According to the APA in 2014, people who report having a spiritual practice are more likely to:
Report higher levels of happiness;
Experience more commitment to their romantic partners;
Promote the healthy development of their children;