SPIRITUALITY vs RELIGION (The FUNDAMENTAL Problem with MODERN SPIRITUALITY)
There seem to be a new way of understanding and practicing spirituality that’s been booming for the past years.
Meditation was seen as woo-woo and hippie. Now, it’s a common practice that companies are implementing to improve employee’s well-being and productivity. Even CEO’s are into it!
Esoteric media is rising and channels like Gaia are becoming more and more popular – trips to Asia with the objective of finding yourself and your place in the world doesn’t surprise anyone anymore and the world enlightenment or awakening has been bastardized and thrown that much around that it has lost any meaning that it could have.
And, obviously, this Spirituality Boom doesn’t come alone. It is going hand in hand with a downfall of traditional religion, including Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Studies suggest that young adults are less likely to adhere to a specific religion, especially in the US, Canada, and Europe – where the standards of living improve every year. They are tired of dogma, of mindless tradition and purposeless rituals and there’s no need for them to believe in a heaven that helps them cope with the burden of everyday life.
Modern spirituality might believe that it’s superior to other forms of religion since it claims to be based in science, whether this science shows the benefits of mindfulness, the existence of a mind and the rejection of materialism, UFO appearances, sacred geometry, paranormal activity, past and future life or Intelligent Design.
But in my opinion, this form of spirituality is committing the same mistake as its predecessor – just in a different form.
Enter The Human Condition
The human condition it a strange one. As far as we know, we are the only one species aware of our own existence and have the gift of reason. Although some animals can show some signs of knowledge, they are a far cry what we experience as life.
This same reason that separate us from other animals and enabled us to create language, philosophy, science, societies and technology also make us wonder – almost naturally – about the world, reality in ourselves.
In this way, questions like “where do we come from?” “who or what am I?” “where are we going after we die?” “what is reality?” “what am I doing here?” “what’s my purpose?” and “Is there a God?” are plain inevitable.
But, as I said, the human condition is a strange one. Although we are born with the miracle of reason, we are also born utterly ignorant. We don’t come to this world with an intuition that might help us answer these questions. We don’t even have a clue on how to respond to them. Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with instructions.
We exist in this sea of ignorance that doesn’t really get better when we grow up – we just learn to avoid it. Individually and collectively. But it’s in this same dark sea that religions appeared. And for the mass of people, any answer is better than no answer at all.
So, how do religions get created? It all begins with some guy like Jesus, Buddha or Muhammad who claims to have had some sort of mystical and religious experience. Whether or not their claims are ultimately true or not, it rings true for a good number of people and since these figures were probably quite charismatic and their message resonated with the masses, their teachings become popular.
After a few generations, we tend to see that these mystic’s teachings become bastardized and pointless rituals and beliefs are created and mindlessly followed. This is what Buddha said in order to avoid this dynamic:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.”
As we’ve seen, it didn’t work that well…
That’s the main criticism that modern spirituality makes about traditional religions. They are a collection of beliefs with no basis in science nor in reality.
Beliefs that are not grounded don’t really respond our inherent existential doubts – they end up leaving us in the same place where we started – not really knowing what the fuck this is all about.
But what about Modern Spirituality?
The Irony of Modern Spirituality
Defenders of this type of Spirituality state they are different from traditional religions in as their claims are not unfounded beliefs but scientifically supported ones.
Yoga and Meditation Practitioners assert they are actually feeling better and are overall happier – science supports this as well.
Claims like: “Everything is One”, “Reality is Made out of Consciousness” or “I’m Energy” are said to be founded on the science behind Quantum Physics and are easily seen in documentaries like “The Secret” or “What The Bleep”.
And on the extreme side of this spectrum, we can even find people maintaining the existence intergalactic civilizations, non-physical aliens and parallel realities.
But here’s the catch. Whether it’s aliens, OBEs, Psychic Powers, Paranormal Phenomena, or claims about the nature of reality – whether these facts are true or not – at the end of the end of the day, they cannot satisfy our essential ignorance.
Beliefs based on science – and mostly pseudo-science – will never clear our existential doubts. Actually, not even facts will ever clear them.
What’s The Solution?
If you notice carefully, science can prove that we are made of mind or reality is made out of atoms, but deep inside, we really don’t know. We are still ignorant on the fundamental aspects of our lives.
Really, what’s looking through your eyes right now? You can believe whatever you want, science-based or not, that you are a brain, a soul, a spirit but actually realize that it doesn’t matter – you still have no clue what you are – you just happen to believe something to soothe your ignorance.
What is the nature of reality? We can see it, touch it and feel it, but if you think about it, it’s an indirect way of perceiving stuff. They are just electrochemical signals happening in our brains. We never really know the thing directly.
What happens after death? Nobody has yet to die and come back to life. And even if they did, it will be just a belief for you and for me since we have not experienced it.
Again, we have no clue about the fundamental aspects of reality and ourselves – no matter what we believe or think.
No Way Out?
So, it seems we are in a crux here. We are born ignorant and we have no way to find out the answers. We never experience the true nature of anything. Our senses are indirect, and logic falls short to the task.
But there’s a way – although not really known in our culture.
What was your original face before you were born?
What if there’s a way to know something prior to thought, logic, perception and even experience? In a way, you and the thing are one and there’s no separation between you and it.
Let’s call this new way of knowing – Direct Consciousness. But it can be also known as Awakening or Enlightenment. It simply means that you have a direct experience related to some fundamental aspect of reality which it’s prior to any conclusions or perception, DIRECTLY.
Pretty weird, right?
Well, it seems possible but it’s this possibility is unfortunately unknown by many of us. And it probably doesn’t help that people usually need to contemplate for hours and days on end to have an insight.
Buddha is said to have sat under the Boddhi Tree for 7 weeks before having one.
Different mystics through the ages describe this mystical experience in very similar ways although they’ve never interacted.
It all seems very possible – and it’s way better than believing something. Why? Because believing will never make our existential angst disappear, no matter how valid those beliefs and facts are.
The fundamental problem with Religions as well as Modern Spirituality is the same – they make you believe in something, just with apparently different degrees of validity. They don’t foster personal discovery or hold the possibility of becoming conscious of something for ourselves. They end up missing the point completely.
Our doubts will not be cleared by faith– only an Enlightenment will. And it’s almost certain that this is what Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed and many many more have.
So if you are tired of listening to the same dogma over and over again and are ready to take this exploration for yourself, know that there’s a way.
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