Monday, February 16, 2009

Religion Versus Spirituality

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I tire of organized religion. The pettiness of many churches along with some church's obsession with owning the "Truth" is not attractive to me. Many people who are "religious" do not seem to be undergoing any type of personal conversion or "metanoia". That being said, my father's recent funeral mass reawakened in me an appreciation for ritual. A non Catholic friend who attended Dad's funeral liturgy was impressed with the organization of it all. I have a new appreciation for how the ritual of the mass gave my family and others a framework for praying and remembering my Dad's life. The ritual also allowed for the participation of many family members in our farewell to Dad. I would still like to see the average Catholic parish talk more about conversion, "metanoia", contemplation, and the experience of God and less about five year plans, budgets, bingo, fish frys, who's right, who's wrong, who gets in Heaven and who's going to Hell. Here's a good quote from the Dalai Lama on this subject.

I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another, an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit, such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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