Find out how exploring your spirituality differs from the belief in a religion. Learn how to make the world a better place to live.
Religion Versus Spiritual Exploration
The confusion begins with the word “spiritual” because it has such a wide range of possible meanings. It often depends upon who is using it and the context. We aren’t here to argue whose definition is better or right. We want to explain how we use this and other related terms. This will help you understand the battle of worldviews that have been going on for eons.
Our task is to clarify the differences between religion and exploring your consciousness or spirit. We contend that these are two opposites. The battle between religion versus spiritual exploration is a conflict between two vastly different worldviews.
Here we go.
The Tools of Religion
Many people in Western culture associate religion with spirituality. The reason for this is simple. The Abrahamic religions (1) spend considerable effort to “identify” their belief systems with spirituality. Western organized religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These religions are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions.
To camouflage this mythology, they use ceremony, ritual, dress, and spiritual language. And, after all, these religions have the most followers worldwide. They control most of the cultural narrative with over 4 billion members combined. The level of influence depends on your integration level into the belief system. In the battle of worldviews, they use powerful tools such as self-hypnosis and group hypnosis. They use these brainwashing tools to integrate people into the belief system.
1) Mandatory membership and allegiance to a Supreme Being (God or Gods)
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
The Tools of the Abrahamic Traditions
The three doctrines listed above deserve a closer look.
1) Accept the existence of a Supreme Being. Is this a valid premise, or does it depend on your perspective? Let’s look at this premise by asking a question. Would you consider belief in other gods like Apolo or Zeus a valid assumption for a religion? What about the faith in one of the gods of the Abrahamic tree? Are these latter gods any different from the former? Are they all not imaginary entities from mythology, metaphors to explain the things for which we have no proof?
The battle of religion versus spiritual exploration starts with this underlying premise. Once you get someone to accept an imaginary entity’s existence, you can get them to believe anything.
2) Establishing boundaries to justify murder, rape, ethnic and gender discrimination, genocide. It empowers leaders of any sect to enable behaviors that would otherwise be unacceptable. Does this justification qualify as spiritual in your paradigm?
3) The afterlife is the all-time best-selling spiritual idea for recruiting and retaining members. It uses both reward and fear as compelling arguments. The reward is Heaven for the believer or Hell for the non-believer. There are no unsatisfied customers because you only get the reward or punishment after death. There is no way to complain when you are dead. A quote from Bill Hicks sums up this last point.
Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s, infinite love. ― Bill Hicks
We hope this overview of the tools of Western organized religion is helpful. Organized religion seeks to blur the lines between mythology and spirituality. This is where science and logic confront superstition. The battle of worldviews is raging inside your mind.
The Tools of Spiritual Exploration
In contrast, exploring your spirit or consciousness is the application of processes. You use these methods to expand awareness and investigate higher states of consciousness. That’s it. It’s all about the use of techniques for developing human potential. These processes are the essence of “inner work.” These tools add value to your life in several ways.
Why Not Call It Consciousness Exploration?
Why don’t we call it consciousness exploration or something else? We choose the term spiritual exploration for two major reasons.
First, we use these terms to keep the original teaching and techniques intact. The originators use spiritual vocabulary to describe these methods for some good reasons. For example, they use language about spirit and consciousness. They talk about the Soul as the Observer of our awareness to understand who we are talking to inside our heads.
Second, we want to honor the cultures that pioneered these methods. These tools are the spiritual heritage of humanity. You can describe these processes in several ways. Some refer to it as awareness research or the investigation of human potential. You could also call it the survey of the parameters perception or cognition methods.
A Eureka experience is a personal breakthrough characterized by the euphoric realization that; what you believe about spiritual reality is wrong. Joy rather than resignation is the effect when boundaries of belief and dogma are smashed to bits. ― Guru Tua
Spiritual technologies are tools for developing and exploring consciousness. They are processes that can alter, change, or expand our awareness. Some of these methods open doorways to higher states of consciousness.
These processes come from eons of research by cultures around the world. We use the term spiritual exploration to describe these powerful methods.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning process. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. Several of these methods produce measurable changes in our physiology. These physiological markers differ from normal waking, sleeping, and dreaming states.
Spiritual exploration is not about faith or belief in a religion. They are processes that anyone can use. All you do is follow a process. We like to think of it just like baking a cake. When you want to bake a delicious cake, you follow a recipe. If you use the right ingredients and follow the directions, you get something delicious. These processes are formulas or ingredients for exploring consciousness.
There are many ways to list these methods. We divide these tools into four major categories:
- Analytical Tools
- Awareness Expansion Tools
- Modalities for Healing
The study of spiritual things seems like an odd place to find analytical tools, but these analytical processes are vital to our spiritual quest. Their use enhances our ability to use common sense and logic.
These tools help us think more clearly and make better decisions, which helps us avoid many of our path’s common obstacles. This group’s primary tools are Logical Reasoning, Comparative Analysis, and The Enneagram of Personality.
The study of logic is the first tool we use in our group practice, but these methods help anyone seeking the truth. We encourage our participants to create a reminder on their smartphone to review these tools every month. This keeps them fresh in our minds, and that’s when they become useful in spotting ploys and deception.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning, which summarizes the basic use of logic in language. It shows how people misuse logic to sell us ideas and beliefs. Next is spotting logical fallacies. This module provides practical examples of the most common logical fallacies. The last module, the logical axioms, ties everything together by contrasting how science and mythology differ in their approaches to presenting the truth.
Comparative Analysis is a systematic approach to comparative religious study based on the scientific model. It is a method of comparing ideas and beliefs from different worldviews, and it is another tool we recommend for the new spiritual explorer.
This process introduces the challenge of comparing their beliefs to other worldviews. We incorporate the use of emotional checks with this process to maintain our emotional equilibrium. This helps us think more clearly by reducing interference from our emotions.
Above all, the use of logical reasoning and comparative analysis will sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction. So, these aren’t just for research. You’ll find a use for these tools every day. Besides their use in religion, politics, they are also helpful with TV and Radio newscasts.
The Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a cognitive science tool that helps us understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. The best authors and researchers write in easily understandable language so the layperson can understand it, while it is deep enough for any clinician. This makes it a powerful system available to almost everyone.
You will find modern psychology and the Enneagram share many of the same concepts and authors. Borrowing and then building on the work of others is a common practice. For instance, Jungian psychology parallels the structure of the Enneagram. It has nine processes of consciousness.
The core of the Enneagram Personality Profile is a series of questionnaires. If you provide honest answers, you will get an accurate personality profile. The scientific method of testing verifies the accuracy of this tool. The system goes beyond identification into deeper thought processes and beliefs. It integrates spiritual and psychological understanding. It will help you understand the source of your personal power.
When you say spiritual practice, many people think of meditation. Seated and moving forms of meditation are the centerpiece of spiritual exploration. The practice of meditation is now common knowledge. Both seated and moving meditation bring many health and wellness benefits.
Seated meditation is the heart of many spiritual practices. Meditation is a range of mental tools for exploring consciousness. It has everything from Mindfulness Meditation through Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). And also includes more advanced practices like the Siddhis of Patanjali.
Moving meditation is an action with a heightened level of awareness. This involves a high level of mind-body coordination and skill. This modality improves mind and body connection. In turn, this has a positive effect on our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. It also includes Forest Bathing and grounding techniques, like Tree Grounding and Sun Gazing.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This category has a diverse mix of tools dealing with awareness and perception. This group includes the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation, lucid dreaming, third-eye awakening exercises, and techniques to improve memory.
Another important tool is the spiritual journal or book of shadows. This is your best coach. It also includes exercises like automatic writing. You could list these tools among some groups. However, we like to list them separately because of their importance to awareness.
The Shamanic Journey is probably man’s first spiritual technology. This traditional method is at the core of many indigenous cultures. It serves as evidence of the historical importance of the inner quest.
There are many variations on this theme, but essentially the same formula. Rhythm is a key element that regulates heart rate and breathing. Then the mind projects an inner world providing the lucid journey.
A Shaman is a person who guides people through this journey in the spirit world. However, you can take this inward journey by yourself. This tool for changing awareness uses a range of seated and moving forms.
This is one of the ancient technologies that people have tried to rename or rebrand. They do this to make the Shamanic Journey more marketable. So, some people know it as guided meditation or creative visualization.
Modalities for Healing
The last group is healing practices. This group includes a diverse set of tools such as Pe Jet, which comes from Indonesia, and Reiki and Shiatsu come from Japan. Vedic medicine is also available, along with other traditional healing forms. Self-care is a vital part of this group. Our overall health and wellness affect every aspect of life.
Using any healing method is a natural outlet for our positive energy. Many people come to the healing arts as a secondary interest. They find it an enjoyable way of giving back and helping others.
Who is Winning the Battle of Worldviews?
Religion versus spiritual exploration is a contrast between two very different paths. The battleground is your mind. Who is winning the war inside your head?
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(1) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia