Is Western religion a substitute for spirituality? Is it spiritual junk food without substance?
Before we jump into the analogy of religion as fast-food spirituality, let’s look at some background information.
The Context of Spirituality
Spirituality can be confusing. The term spirit refers to the human Spirit or Soul. People use these words to make things sound “spiritual.” People use them to describe almost everything in the human condition. For example, some people say that eating hot spicy food is a spiritual experience.
We overuse the term spirituality. So, it’s important to pay attention to context. Spirituality is the realm of Mystics, Seers, and Shaman. Gifted Seers operate apart from organized religion of any kind. So, religions adopt them when they can. If they can’t, then they burn them as heretics or Witches.
Nature is the basis of all religions. The earliest forms of Paganism and Animism tried to find ways to explain the universe. Here, the belief in animals and nature became the anthropomorphic entities of the gods. They developed the early processes of Shamanism exploring the spirit world.
Not all religions are junk food. Some are valuable assets to society. Some helped to preserve and safeguard the processes for exploring higher states of consciousness. Hinduism, Taoism, and many forms of Paganism are examples. They developed what we know as the scientific process for testing and investing things. You can trace modern medicine to these ancient pioneers.
Religion and Spirituality
Most people live in cultures dominated by Western religion. These are the Abrahamic religions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They associate their religion with spirituality rather than processes for consciousness development.
They sell the idea that their doctrines, superstitions, and ceremonies make religion spiritual. And, everything spiritual must come from them. Otherwise, if it doesn’t come from them, it is evil.
In these religions, cultural programming starts early in life. Children have no choice but to learn their dogma. People in crisis fall prey to this tactic. When people are going through an emotional crisis, they are vulnerable. This makes them susceptible to groupthink manipulation tactics. Then need support and answers. Organized religion provides these for a price. They make followers and paying customers.
Intelligence isn’t a barrier to the effects of this type of programming. The longer you expose yourself, the more likely the programming will affect you. Groupthink manipulation is a powerful tool of propaganda. These religions have three main concerns:
1. Mandatory membership and allegiance to a Supreme Being
2. The justification for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and values
3. Required belief in the afterlife, or life after death with either rewards or punishment
These concerns are the counterfeit substitutes for developing your path. They are fast-food spirituality sold to create a cash flow system.
Spiritual Junk Food of Western Religion
Western organized religion is similar to fast-food in several ways. Just like fast food, there are many retail outlets available. There are many churches, mosques, and other religious structures. And, just like fast food religion tastes good to the Ego.
But religion has no spiritual nutrition if you equate it with processes for transformation. So, that’s why you must keep returning at least weekly. These religions seem to have no positive impact on world peace. In fact, you’ll find Western religion at the heart of many wars and current ongoing conflicts. Religion is not a solution but a cause of human suffering.
Why do many people conclude Western religion is the fast food of spirituality? It seems like it is the root cause of many of the world’s inequities, persecutions, and conflicts. Religion divides, it does not bring people together. So, many freethinkers view Western Organized religion as spiritual junk food.
Like fast food, religion is habit-forming. It promises to fill the need it can never meet. This requires you to keep coming back. And it demands a portion of your hard-earned wages. Dogma and doctrine can not meet spiritual needs. Afterlife promises are not an adequate answer for the fear of death.
Many of the great teachers told us not to follow organized religion. The Jesus discussed in the Bible was a Jewish scholar. He was not a Christian. He sought enlightenment alone in the wilderness. Muhammad was not a Muslim. So, to follow in their footsteps was to walk your own path. Instead of inspiring freedom from religion, they became the inspiration for organized religions. And, sects are being created every day. It makes you wonder.
So, above all, learn to grow your own spiritual food. Learn to research ideas outside your current belief system. Learn to feed yourself spiritually. Skip the fast-food spirituality of Western religion.
How Spirituality and Religion Differ
In contrast, for many others being spiritual means living life means exhibiting the higher virtues of the spirit. It’s not what you believe but what you do with your life that counts. It’s not about being part of an exclusive club.
Instead, it is about promoting equity and equality for all people. Spirituality relates to processes that expand awareness. It’s about becoming a better person. Its goal is consciousness and spiritual development not adherence to dogma. This is the domain of spiritual exploration. So, this leads us to the analogy of why Western organized religion is spiritual junk food.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia