Is there a difference between spiritual exploration and religion? Read more and we’ll find out.
First of all, many people think spiritual exploration is similar to religion. This isn’t true. They differ considerably. Spiritual exploration is the opposite of religion.
Religion Versus Spiritual Exploration
The confusion begins with the word “spiritual.” That’s because the term spiritual has a wide range of meanings. It often depends upon who is using it. But, we aren’t here to argue whose definition is better. Our task is to clarify the differences between religion and spiritual exploration. We will attempt to do this by examining the tools of religion and the tools of spiritual exploration.
We contend that these are two opposites. Religion versus spiritual exploration are at opposite ends of worldview perspectives.
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 (The Western organized religions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) expends considerable effort to “identify” their belief systems with this term. They use ceremony, ritual, dress, and use language that we are taught makes these systems spiritual.
And, after all, these religions have the most followers worldwide. So, even if you are not a believer, the colossal social reach still affects you. As a result, the level of influence depends upon how much social integration you have with these systems. There are specific tools of doctrine for integrating people into these paradigms.
- Mandatory membership and allegiance to a Supreme Being, (God or Gods)
- The justification for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and values
- Required belief in the afterlife, or life after death with either rewards or punishment
The Tools of The Abrahamic Traditions
These three above doctrine deserves a closer look.
- Accepting the premise of a Supreme Being is central to these belief systems. Is this really a valid premise? Or, does it depend on your perspective? Let’s look at this premise by asking a question. Would you consider the belief in Apolo or Zeus as belief in the Gods of the Abrahamic tree? If you answer NO, then you probably a member of a version of the Abrahamic model. If you answer YES, you probably view all Gods as mythology.
- Establishing boundaries and justifying unacceptable behavior like murder, rape, ethnic and gender discrimination, genocide. It empowers leaders of any given sect to enable behaviors that would otherwise be unacceptable. Does this justification qualify as spiritual in your paradigm?
- 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, eternity in Heaven for the believer. Or, an eternity in Hell for the non-believer. There are no unsatisfied customers. Because the reward or punishment is only revealed after death. 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. Religion versus spiritual exploration couldn’t be further apart. Let’s look at tools and of spiritual exploration and see why this is so.
The Tools of Spiritual Exploration
In contrast, spiritual exploration is the application of processes for expanding awareness and investigating higher states of consciousness. That’s it. It’s all about the development of the individual on both a physical and mental level. This is the essence of “inner work.” The focus of these activities is on increasing the functioning of the mind and exploring a connection with higher levels of consciousness or vibration.
Why Don’t We Call It Consciousness Exploration?
Why don’t’ we call it consciousness exploration or something else? The simple answer, the cultures that pioneered these methods used spiritual vocabulary to describe their processes. For example, they use language about the spirit and consciousness interchangeably. They talk about the Soul and the Observer of our awareness. So, we could refer to these processes in any number of ways, awareness research, the investigation of human potential, a survey of the parameters perception, studying methods of cognition, etc. Consequently, we choose to use spiritual exploration to honor and keep the systems the traditions intact. These are the heritage of mankind.
“A Eureka experience is 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
This sums up the conflict between religion versus spiritual exploration.
Spiritual technologies are tools for exploring consciousness. They result from generations of research by cultures around the world. These processes stand up to the test of science. They are repeatable and measurable. They do not require belief in religious doctrine. So, everyone who can follow a process can use them. We call the practice of these processes spiritual exploration.
You can list these tools in several ways. Some fall into more than one group. We like this simple method.
- Tools to enhance critical thinking. This study of basic logical reasoning along with spotting logical fallacies and logical axioms. Then we also use a comparative analysis. This is a step-by-step way of comparing beliefs between different worldviews. Above all, these tools will help sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction.
- The Enneagram Personality Profile. This is mostly an analytical tool. It provides insight into the mechanisms of ego, personality, and instinct.
- Seated meditation is often the heart of your spiritual practice. This includes a range from Beginning Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation through Japa Meditation and more advanced Siddhis of Patanjali.
- Moving meditation helps us strengthen the mind-body connection. It is also an important key to our health and wellness. This progression includes several methods of energy collection, such as Forest Bathing, Qigong, and Tai Chi.
- Pathways for expanding and exploring awareness. This progression includes a range of processes from lucid dreaming, the Shamanic Journey and Guided Meditation to third-eye awakening and soul memory awareness. Practical tools to guide your path, a spiritual journal, and automatic writing.
- Healing practices are the final group. This branch includes Pe Jet, Reiki, and Shiatsu. Self-care is also a part of this group and is vital to our overall health and wellness.
Religion versus spiritual exploration is a battle between two very different approaches.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their own path.
Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s Book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia