What is the difference between spirituality and religion? Spirituality deals with spirit that is the Universal Consciousness. Spirituality is the path of Self-Realization or God-Realization. It is the principle of conscious life. It animates the body. It is the incorporeal part of a person. It is separate from the body, mind, buddhi and ego. It is the subtlest part, the essence. It is real and eternal. And religion deals with the person as a whole. The Latin word ‘religio’ means that which unites. The original meaning of the word ‘religion’ is to bring all the dimensions of human life together to make a person whole. Only a whole person can be holy. A whole person is a holy person. He or she is happy and loves all. Religion creates a cosmos in life. Why do Indian worship the Peepal Tree? They worship the Peepal Tree because It is a symbol that represents Holiness and Religiousness of The Supreme Being as well as a Holy Person like Jesus or Krishna or Buddha. How? The cosmos is a complete, orderly and harmonious system. The Supreme Being is a macrocosm. The universe is a macrocosmic manifestation of the Holy Supreme Being. And a Holy Human Being is a microcosm. The Supreme Being possesses two dimensions – an invisible Consciousness and the visible changing universe. And a human being also possesses two dimensions – the invisible soul and the visible changing body. The Peepal is a symbol of God as well as a Holy Personality because it also possesses both the dimensions – the invisible Roots and the visible parts: stem and leaves. One may cut the stem and leaves but these parts come again and again. It is the cosmic holiness that we worship. It is the Balanced Life Design that the mankind worships. And it is due to these reasons that we are advised to be religious, to be whole, to be holy; by looking after all the dimensions of life in a balanced way. The balanced living is a meaningful and purposeful living.
Only that religion is the True Religion that unites, that unifies, that brings and holds together. There are three dimensions of unity:
- The Intrapersonal Unity
- The Interpersonal Unity
- The Unity with the Ultimate Reality.
With the achievement of this three-dimensional unity, the spirit of religiousness dawns and man becomes a god.
The Intrapersonal Unity? It is the unity within. The human being possesses various faculties. These faculties, these abilities, these skills or talents may be natural or acquired. The functioning of these abilities is not always in harmony. Disharmony creates conflict within. This inner conflict is very harmful. It is an obstacle in the path to progress. What is needed is a harmony among the faculties of head, heart and hands. Of one puts emphasis merely on the functioning of head, one’s life becomes unbalanced. For enjoying the Balanced Lifestyle, the various faculties must be harmoniously blended.
The Interpersonal Unity? It is the unity with other human beings. If relationships are not good, one feels disturbed and fails to have peace of mind. To have good relationships, on must live and act in such a way that others are benefited. In this context arises the concept of unselfishness, moral values and ethics. Ethics is a system of moral principles. It teaches the rules of conduct. It clearly shows the rightness and wrongness of our actions, and the goodness and badness of our motives.
The Unity with Ultimate Reality? When our physical, intellectual, aesthetic and social needs are satisfied, we still don’t feel compete. There is another urge within us that asks for meaning and purpose. This divine urge is fulfilled only when the God-Realization dawns and one realizes one’s inseparable unity with the Ultimate Reality. It is the Spiritual Enlightenment that makes human life meaningful.
[Read: Ethical Culture – Morality]
“Unless you can make the Whole Existence your temple, you are not religious. A religious person can see Divine – in the trees, in the mountains, in people, in animals, in birds and in the sky. The authentically religious person is simply a loving person, a creative person,” says Osho. Love is God, and God is Love. See Shlokas 13 to 20, Twelfth Discourse, of The Bhagavadgita, Bhagwan Sri Krishna says, “A religious person, a lover of God, beareth no ill-will to any being. That person is compassionate and friendly. That person hates none, is forgiving and is full of devotion and love.” While describing the characteristics of a religious person, a Brahmjnani, The Holy Sukhmani Sahib says, “A Brahmjnani loves and serves all.”
Love is a Shakti; an Energy, that moves the stars, that moves the clouds, that allows the seeds to sprout, that allows the birds to sing. It is love that gives beauty to our lives, without love life is ugly. When love is there, two exist as two entities but as one Consciousness. Love is a unity of two entities, two Shaktis, meeting and becoming one. Both feel fulfilled, perfect. Love is the greatest thing in the Whole Existence. Why is there so much unhappiness, misery, pain and suffering in our lives? It is due to the lack of love. Love frees us of all weight and pain. It is the most beautiful and precious gift. When received, a person’s body, mind and heart merge into one rhythmic whole. It is an ecstasy of belonging. It brings out the best in the individual. It gives a sense of direction. It gives a new meaning to life. When it is lacking, the individual is incapable of flowering. It is an inducement to an individual to ripen and become sweet. Love is non-possessive, unconditional and non-judgmental. No love, no spiritual growth. Love, spirituality and the spirit of religiousness are reflected in one’s feelings, language, expressions, communication and actions. Those who are touched by LOVE find themselves empowered with a rare brand of Shakti, energy, strength, conviction and faith. Love has the greatest power to do good. The whole existence, the whole cosmos moves around Love. It is worship, it is Bhakti or devotion. Without love, there is no dance in life, and no song. Without love, there is no poetry. Life becomes dull, a drag. Where there is Love, there is dancing, singing, celebration and a joyous Life. You have not lived if you have not loved. Love is a religious phenomenon. It is a living relationship with the Total Existence. The spirit of religiousness sees, listens, smells and touches with love – all the stars, moon, sun, mountains, rivers, all plants, all trees, all animals and all persons. Love is religion at its highest. Love is a temple, not a marketplace. Just as the body cannot survive without food, the soul cannot survive without love. Love is the nourishment of the soul, it is the beginning of all that is great, it is the door of the Divine. Love means enjoying the togetherness. A Buddha is Love, a Jesus is Love, a Ramakrishna is Love. If one wants to have an enriched inner world, then one must learn how to love.
[Read: The Human Being]
Love in action is service. All acts of service are a worship of God. Swami Vivekananda says, “A person who has served and helped one needy human being seeing God in him or her, with that person God is more pleased than with the person who sees God only in temples.” Sri Ramakrishna asks, “If God can be worshipped through an image in a temple, why should not it be possible to worship Him through a living person?”
Saint Francis of Assisi prays –