RELIGION AND SPIRTUALITY -JAN 2008
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Religion and spirituality- A personal exploration!
Going ‘deeper’ is paradoxically a tool to arrive at the simple!
Going 'deeper' into anything is reaching its utter simplicity!

Religion and spirituality brings to mind an old joke: Two friends are arguing about free will and destiny; the one who believes in destiny concludes by saying the other is destined to believe in freewill! And the one who ascribes to free will concludes by saying the other is free to believe in destiny! I start with this joke because I find religion and spirituality are often viewed in the same manner, as two opposite sides of a coin instead of the coin itself! And indeed having been like those friends in the above joke, I confess I was firmly on one side- of spirituality - till I moved from viewing them only as heads… or tails! I will share through this writing my personal exploration of these terms-with the coin now well up in the air- not heads, nor tails, but one shiny whole coin showing me both aspects as it twirls around in the air!

Humanity, to me, is a beautiful and brave experience I choose as spirit! And I am a firm believer that we as spirit gave ourselves all the tools and aids to make this adventure the joyful and fulfilling experience that we ventured out for! And in that, religion (which means ‘to re-align’) was at its purest a vital tool that spirit created to facilitate the game of life! It is only in moving away from that purity, to the structure and rules that often develop do they become limiting and self serving instead. For religions are paths successfully traversed and described by another (or a set of others) and in that they hold vital clues towards the path you now navigate- for the journey is the same, with the different routes converging at the same place. In this understanding I realized that shunning them was as meaningless as those following them as a set of must-do rules! I realized it’s best to adopt the middle line, not allowing them to limit and restrain me like some tower of Babel which must then be struck open; but being open to harnessing the wisdom that others before me have tapped into, using from this storehouse what works for me, perhaps expanding some of its concepts in ways which are applicable to the time and space coordinate that I am in… so that ‘religions’ do what they are for…what I indeed as spirit designed them for… to help us re-align with the Spirit I Am! And in this as our ‘spirituality’ blossoms… we can then contribute to ‘religion’ in unique and contemporary ways! And the two…religion and spirituality begin to meet rather than stare doggedly in opposite directions!

Religions to me are thus tools, the means, and not the goal! In analogy they are like the booklets of instructions and guidelines, which accompany our more physical board games- but they do not replace the actual game itself, which must be played out in individual ways! They are good starting points, offering a description of the game, the parameters within which it is set, some guidelines and goals yes, but thereafter leaving it to the individuals to play the game in individual ways, or what use of playing a game! They do not, do not indeed, become manuals detailing every step of the game: throw dice, you will get a six… partner throws dice, he will get a four… and so on… making the very playing redundant! And in the ‘playing’ of the game of life, with a deeper (and deeper!) understanding of the game and the larger context in which I play it…indeed in the escalating states of joy and expanding states of love… is my spirituality!

The different religions thus became for me the various ways in which the game of life can be played! With each of us resonating to a certain approach or style! Of course when viewed deeper, we will born within that cultural milieu or religion (or lack off) which we need as a backdrop for the current life and all that we have chosen to experience, expand and disempower within it. More so in different lives we will indeed choose different religions so that each of us may view life and self and God through the myriad lens offered to humanity! Let me quote Rumi here:

“Sometimes devout Christian
Sometimes staunchly Jewish
Until our inner love fits with everyone”

Personal Experience (and the sharing of those I reach out to) further showed me that when any religion, or indeed any path, has done its work within us, is when we begin to lose interest or feel drawn to another…and instead of feeling guilty of betraying our God or path…it is indeed a signal from that very God or Master or path urging us forward! For truly in the larger picture they are all One and it is that Oneness which guides us at every point whether to move on or stay put…whatever is for our highest good and growth! Let me bring this alive through some personal experiences touching on these very points:

I am born a Jain, with a Hindu mother; and while both influences were subtly present neither was highlighted (nor impacted me) because through my growing days every individual in my very large joint family resonated to different Living Masters and this was the major influence on my psyche! And it was only on retrospect that I saw how this backdrop paved the way ideally for the journey of universal spirituality that I have now consciously embarked on and reach out through!
More so, when I began my journey as a channel receiving and sharing spiritual wisdom …I went through the initial pangs of wondering if I was being disloyal to my Living Master; and he oh so beautifully came to me in meditation and indeed danced the waltz with me, swirling me into the arms of my new channeled Master…telling me symbolically what I am trying to convey to you dear readers!
Indeed it was at this point that I grasped another vital aspect- for as little as a year before this- I had felt somewhat rejected by my Living Master when he gently suggested I wait a while for the initiation I requested... promising me he would give it if I still wanted it next year! At that point I did not know…what I know now… My Living Master and all Masters are indeed one and orchestrate the show together …weaning me off one desire, as its foundation is laid and propelling towards another where it will best continue!!

But in this understanding, there arose in me an even deeper eureka! And I share this as an important message to those of us who may try converting everyone onto ‘our’ path! At some level it is natural, for when you find something that works for you, one wants to share it with beloveds! And when you have found your God…Self…the desire to share is even stronger! But if another’s path fulfills them, and feels right for them, there is no use convincing them onto yours! It is indeed a disservice and distraction rather than any service you may feel you are doing! For that voice of fulfillment is indeed their soul voice, whispering to them that this is where their current growth lays. And even if your path seems to you the more expanded or better one, we must operate from the complete conscious awareness that there is no lesser or better path… for each one resonates to what is best for them in any Now! Read Rum’s poem again…Different religions offer different views of the same One Divine understanding…and we are born into or come across or attracted to that which we need to encompass in the now!

In my growing up days, I would indeed flout religion in favor of spirituality…chaffing at the myriad gods and rituals that religion prescribed, and to be honest, I felt ‘one up’! But now, somewhat older and hopefully a little wiser…I understand that religion and spirituality though different approaches, are not at odds with each other; each has its role to play. Some need what religion offers and you can indeed not be truly spiritual if you belittle that! You may have chosen a life plan to get some structure to your free flowing spirituality! You may have chosen to explore a certain faith which you have perhaps condemned in some past! You may just have opted to add to your exploration of the whole through another lens! And some need to move away from religion into a wider and more personal exploration offered by spirituality! We may never know ‘why’ we are drawn to what we are, but if we know that everything is chosen for our highest good and growth- even our spiritual journeys- and indeed encoded within our DNA as our desires and what feels ‘right’ for each life time, this judgment about any being better begins to fade!

Over the years my spirituality has enabled me to appreciate the various religions for the symbolic representations they so beautifully bestow on the more abstract understandings of the macrocosm! It has worked in reverse for me…instead of my religion taking me to my spirituality, my spirituality and its in-depth understanding of concepts like prayer and gods and temples has brought me to appreciate the secrets encoded in the rich history and imagery of religions! And in this blend can I remain Creator… Godself…. Self -Empowered without the need for images and forms and formal prayers and rituals, and yet can I just as beautifully sit in temples and havans and bhajans and enjoy instead of shun, these beautiful …beautiful tools and mirrors!

Religion and spirituality need not be two mutually exclusive states, and we can each arrive at our own combination! Sometimes as ‘spiritual’ beings different from our ‘religious’ co-travelers …we feel compelled to keep ‘gods’ out of our lives. And even as I grappled with this, strangely developing an altar after more than 40 years of rejecting idolatry… I realized that I am on a physical planet, and just as I enjoy my other reflections: beloveds, friends and family firmly knowing there is no one other than I; and they are but the mirror of relationships; may I in this complete self empowerment enjoy the beautiful ambience I have created as an altar! Knowing these beautiful pictures and crystals- gifts coming from seemingly no where- are but aspects of Self! Knowing I sit in an altar to Self! Not worried if it isn’t there, yet enjoying it when I choose! Again a beautiful verse highlights this (alas it is forward from the web and I do not know and thus cannot acknowledge the poet, but remain deeply thankful to whoever it is):

I "Woke Up" one day and looked in the mirror
What did I see? ... Me.
I looked at my friends, family and relationships.
What did I see? ... But Me.
I looked at my world,
and what did I see? ... But Me again.
I integrated into the spiritual,
and what did I see?
Oh my God, but you are a splendid mirror of Me?

Both Spirituality and religion are a search for truth, and at a deeper level a means to wholly optimizing our human journey! Religions offer these truths, each through a different lens; each one a finely honed focus - like websites that keep their information intact and inviolate so that it doesn’t get mixed up with all the information on the World Wide Web. Spirituality is like the World Wide Web- embracing all truths rather than stressing on ‘one truth for all’; and indeed extends further by allowing each to arrive at their own truths, (in our analogy leaving us free to make our own website!) through the aid of surfing ‘religions’ or a more independent means of enquiry! Yet these truths have all been touched upon by different religions and spirituality only combines them all in a personal package right for each one thereby making the sum larger than its parts! The other difference if any is that religions are journey’s recorded from the ‘beginning’ to any Now…and in that some of its ideas may seem outdated in any current context, unless you in connection with the spirit that you are, through your spirituality, can interpret them in context of where humanity’s ( and your personal) evolution currently stands! Once you are open to this, religion and spirituality enable each other… and you… and humanity!

Follow your inner voice; arrive at your own conclusions in every NOW! Constantly upgrade your religious understanding, and in that spirituality forge your own unique path, even whilst you are using from others what they have so generously shared towards this inimitable and individual journey to Self! Allow religion and spirituality to comfortably coexist … and your coin falls on that side, which you need in the now!

Love from my heart to yours, Divyaa Kummar

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