Religion and Spirituality

by Markfromcali 18 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Carmel

    All the time I was a witness, the term "spiritual" was used as an adjective. Overused, I might add, to the extent that it totally lost its meaning. Ask any two witnesses and you will not get the same definition. I've carried that perplexity about the word for most of my adult life.

    I am a religious person, not in the sence that I crave gathering together, or ritual or needing a reference group to define me. I have a world view that is determined on my conviction that is a product of what I have come to believe is a sequence of events, patterns if you will, that repeat themselves and as a function of cause and effect have affected the would of humanity for its ever-advancement. I find this for me to be true. It is a "religious" belief. I would most likely not be a "spiritual" person if the social and intellectual aspects of my religion did not regularly reinforce the concept of moral and ethical integrety. I would be much more hedonistic and selfish if I did not have the religious convictions that I have.

    What is "spiritual"? Personally, it is the sum total of the moral and ethical decisions we make and the resulting actions. Faith is the conviction that there is a connection between those mindsets and a source that causes humans to have those convictions. Religion is the sociatal construct that reiforces the manifestation of moral and ethical character. When it ceases to perform the function of education and pacification, it is fit for the fire. As Jesus said, "the tree that ceases to bear fruit, is fit for the fire". When a religion ceases to be a positive force for humanity, it needs to be re-newed. Simple.


  • Narkissos


    I often wondered about the relationship between spirituality/religion and creativity when I left the JWs, because I felt them strangely antagonistic. I now tend to see them as the two opposite sides of the same coin, or more exactly perhaps two opposite postures.

    Creating, I think, requires something more than the common spiritual/religious attitude, and in a sense antagonistic to it: you cease to be on the worshipping/receiving end and take the place of the divine, turning your back to it although somehow representing it to your audience. No matter what you are, you become the impersonation of the god to them. It is a priestly act of sorts, but this also implies a "revolt" in the etymological sense (turning around, just like "conversion").

    This struck me once I was attending a traditional Lutheran communion service in Norway: the priest first sided with the lay people and represented them kneeling in prayer before the altar, then changed garments and stood behind the altar, turning his back to the cross, to speak and perform in the name of the Lord. You can also think of Moses speaking with Yhwh and then turning back to speak to the people, with his face changed.

    Fwiw, I love this idea: the divine acts through those who turn their backs to it. (I hope I made clear I meant all of this metaphorically.)

  • Pole

    Religion stems from spirituality.

    Any relligion (religious system) could be defined as an attempt to provide an apparently meaningful and verifiable explanation of man's spirituality.

    Such an explanation usually comes in the form of words, gestures, symbols and rituals. Unfortunatelly all such attempts to formalize spirituality are doomed to failure.

    Man's spirituality must be considered seriously. A man's religion must not be if we are to stay out of all sorts of trouble.


  • darkuncle29

    When I say to others, "I try to be spiritual, but am not religious." I am distancing myself from organized religion. Most understand what I am saying by not saying it. That I (We?) want nothing to do with organized religious belief systems and the limits that that imposes upon our freedom to think and choose.

    I don't like to say "I'm spiritual", because many of the people I've encountered in my life who claimed that were not in fact spiritual, or moral, which is what they were trying to imply.


  • Markfromcali

    I can't help but think of that scripture which talks about "having a form of Godly devotion but proven false to it's power" when it comes to religion that does not support or facilitate a creative spiritual life. I agree that religion isn't limited to theism, and neither would the existence of such a form necessitate focusing on the form itself, rather than the substance.

    And this kind of relates to the two aspect of spirituality of receptivity and creativity. In some traditions atleast there is not a continued focus on receptivity, but once you get to a certain point, which amounts to saying realizing your spiritual nature in some way, then it turns around and the expression of life has that creative power behind it, and that is emphasized rather than the receptive aspect. There is that popular zen saying where upon being asked what zen is, the master replies "your ordinary, everyday life." And you can see the difference in regular every day life, sometimes you can't put your finger on it because of the ordinary nature of the expression like say the grocery clerk, but there is a difference.

    Incidentally, not to pick on the JWs as we no doubt appear to do all the time, but strictly on a functional level this is rather lacking in the religion. Without even questioning the truthfulness of the doctrine, the whole Witnessing activity is so mechanical that there is really not any creative spirit behind it. Obviously I don't mean make up stuff which may be in contradiction to the JW doctrine, but if you think about the very idea of a person giving a witness about something, it would be THEIR experience, THEIR own words and so on - not something you read from print like the KM. And frankly I think this is why you don't see so much informal witnessing, because that is supposed to be something that comes naturally, nevermind the witness that is given by virtue of the behavior of people. The Witnesses will reduce it to the behavior itself, that is things like look how orderly we are at the assembly or what have you - when this really points to a deeper principle that is expressed through behavior, not a forced behavior pattern which really amounts to faking that expression. And this, of course is focusing on the 'form of godly devotion.' It's the difference between washing the outside of the cup vs. the inside.

    But the point is, if spirituality is the 'internal' and religion is the external expression of that, then it is certainly missing the point to imitate a particular expression without consideration for what it is expressing. Just as no artist is considered great for reproducing the work of others, we can see it is ultimately not about a particular form. The work does not have to be completely original, but as in the case of the performing arts we can see someone really putting their heart into the performance of something they didn't even write.

  • Narkissos


    I fully agree. And as you speak about JWs, I can think of a few really "spiritual" people (according to your definition) among them. Not the "reaching" type though, mostly ordinary people modestly glowing with a true "spiritual" experience. Perhaps they are less in proportions than in other religions, due to the massive emphasis on formal reproduction of words and actions in the cult. But they are there anyway, and they do contribute in making this small part of the world a little better.

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan

    I think that I am religious about my spirituality - and spirituality I identify as flows of awarenesses, and knowing/being who I am - ie. of self and interactions with others, and within my sphere / realm and in nature. Reigning with Him, in me, over the spirits - like the centurion, who says to one go and he goes and to another come and he comes

    Love that bit - and to another come and he comes

    And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another

  • itsallgoodnow

    IMO- Religion is rigid and literal, but spirituality is self awareness, reflection and ethical conviction. I found I can't be both of these at once.

  • frankiespeakin

    The word "religion" to me:

    To my mind is a form of beleif that has a certain structure ie...Catholic, JW, Pagan, etc... Once you identify with these or join,, you then are expected to accept the teachings. This leads to stagnation, dullness of thinking, biased thought, which teathers the mind like a rope tied to your leg and tree.

    Religion has served to keep the human family seperate, justified killing of fellow humans with different beliefs or nationality. Religion has authority over peoples lives, religions want members and so they develope creeds and programs to further its expansion, if it didn't it would not be a recognized religion. Religion plays on our fears and offer seemly comfort but never delivers real comfort. Religion is just one of the many way we form groups under an authority figure(s),, and this is just another way the whole human family gets fragmented.

    Sure religion can be a refuge but every form of refuge has its price.

    To me the word spirtuality is:

    Asking questions and being truthful with ones self no matter what the truth is. Finding out what love is. Seeing the beauty and the ugliness of life and learning from these. Being open, conquering fear, seeing more deeply into nature, looking at greed, and selfishness and trying understanding these. Finding out for yourself, why you do this or that.

    To me spirituality means searching and exploration,, and religion means accepting authority and believing a doctrine. In some ways they are both related just like milk and mercury are related because they are a liquid at room temperature.

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