Friday, June 25, 2010

Spiritual but not Religious

I am comfortable describing myself as spiritual but not religious and to name Jesus among my spiritual inspirations. When I say I am spiritual but not religious, I mean this and more.

I am inspired by the life and example of Jesus who wasn’t a Christian, not even a religious person but a lover of life and a champion of the poor. The only time he is recorded as having gone to church was to protest religious corruption and hypocrisy.

I feel the presence of divine beauty all around me without being limited by the gods of one religion or another.

I find inspiration in the Bible as poetry without reading it literally or feeling limited by the lens of a particular tradition.

I experience every moment as a miracle without having to deny science or natural laws.

I live my life with optimism and love without needing to look over my shoulder in guilt or fear of judgment.

There is a verse (Isaiah 6:1) that illustrates some of these spiritual but not religious principles.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up, sitting upon a throne, and his train filled the whole temple.” A little later in the same chapter, “The whole earth is full of His glory.”

These verses CANNOT possible be understood literally. The dimensions of the temple are well known. It was HUGE. When Princess Diana got married, the train on her wedding gown was 25 feet long? That’s impressive, but wouldn’t fill a temple. The longest train ever worn was 4468 feet in Cyprus a few years back. That’s almost obscene, but still wouldn’t fill a temple.

Understood literally, the words lose all meaning. Understood as poetry, the train becomes a beautiful metaphor. The train of a gown or robe has no function, other than the hint of mystery. It hints at what lies just beneath the surface, where life comes alive with new awareness and wide eyed joy. Life is an outrageous miracle full of abundant mystery and extravagant wonder like a massive train.

It speaks of the mysterious connectedness of life, the bricolage of seamless entities that fills my life with synchronicity and meaning. It reminds me that I am connected to the world around me in so many ways. I am connected to the people around me – every one of them is an expression of divine beauty. I am connected to my passions and when my passions intersect with the world’s needs, healing takes place. The world becomes filled with possibility.

Spirituality without religion honors science and common sense without being limited by literalism or dogma. I can honor facts and scientific knowledge and yet spirituality is an awareness that certain facts give me goosebumps. They change me from the inside out and motivate me to be all that I hope for in the world.

Look around you! The whole earth is filled with the train of God, the hint of mystery and the miracle of love.

This is part of what it means for me to be spiritual but not religious. What does it mean for you?


Christina B said...

Just today I was being questioned and mocked for being spiritual but not religious. I felt compelled to come to your blog and re-read old entries and to my surprise, this post was here. Being spiritual but not religious to me, means being connected with and understanding that we too, are organisms of this Earth and need to learn to work with, not against our surroundings. And so much more! Thank you for allowing me to re-establish my spiritual ground. :)

Ian Lawton said...

Thanks for your thoughts Pam- your interpretation is possible, but not attractive to me. Wealth and followers makes it all very pretentious.
Christina, some people mock what they fear or don't understand. Just be yourself. I for one, like who you are and what you stand for

zapmama27 said...

Isaiah 6:1 is a vision .... The book of Isaiah is pretty clear it is a vision and not a literal event; it's a glimpse of who God is! King Uz...dead; Jehovah Lord...ALIVE! It goes on and on like that throughout history..the biggest baddest man on campus always dies...and the Lord lives on and on and on. You have many "I's" in this blog. It's not always about you though...there is a bigger picture Ian and so much MORE! :)