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The roles Spirituality, Faith & Religion play in our lives...

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The truth is, spirituality isn’t really definable in this way. It means a different thing to every person...

Life surrounds us. There are living things all around us, every day, in everything we do. Life is abundant in this world. As people, we are probably the only truly conscious beings that form part of that life. It is one of the most obvious things around us but at the same time, it is the most baffling and awe inspiring thing: Life.

As people, we are intimately connected to life, we are part of life. Life flows through us, through each of us as individuals and through each other in our interactions. On an individual level, life develops a deeper meaning. Hard as it may be to define life in exact terms, there are some things any one can accept and one of these is that there’s more to life than what we can see with our eyes. Put in another way, there is more to life than the physical, tangible aspect of it. It’s this intangible aspect – the part we cannot see with our eyes yet instinctively seem to know is real – that we call spirituality.

So perhaps we can define spirituality as that deeper part of life that goes beyond form, beyond labels, beyond definition. It’s the world of souls and essence of character and strength of spirit. It’s the ‘knowledge’ behind our thoughts, the ‘wisdom’ behind our intentions, the belief in our prayers, the peace in our meditations, the strength of our feelings and all other intangible things that add to and define our lives.

Religion versus spirituality

Many spiritual and religious cultures have taught that the human being is part physical and part spiritual. It can be understood in what happens after death. The physical aspect may be the same in the beginning – the body is still there, for a while, until natural processes take over and the physical form begins to decay and break down – but the ‘something else’, the part that defined that person, the essense of their being, the spirit that filled them… is  gone. This invisible aspect that differentiated them, this was their spiritual being.

Now it’s important to differentiate between spirituality and religion. In our society today, the two are often used interchangeably but this does not mean they are the same. Here at Invite Life we believe these are two very distinctly different things. While religion may be a certain way of expressing your spiritual side, spirituality does not fit into boxes and categories and rules the way that religion does.

Don’t get us wrong, religion has a very important place in our society. It gives people a structure to their belief system, it gives people hope, and it can sometimes be someone’s only way of finding faith in the world. However religion, by its very nature, has a rigidity and a structure that spirituality doesn’t. It’s like spirituality is the helium balloon, ready to float off up into the sky untamed, and religion is the piece of string that ties that spirituality to the ground.

On the one hand, spirituality is that inner state of who we are, the inner aspect of us that is invisible and intangible yet plays a big part in who we are. In a way, our spirituality is who we are.

On the other hand, religion has more to do with practices, social structure and organization of various faith based associations that make up the various world religions. In short, spirituality has to do with our inner being while religion has to do with organised faith.

Understanding spirituality in life

So what role does spirituality play in our lives?

In terms of a definition of spirituality, it has little to do with god. It is more of an internal personal conviction and condition. Your belief in a god or gods may form part of your spiritual belief system, but it’s not what makes it exist.

Spirituality is an important aspect of who we are. Many teachings point to the fact that we are spiritual beings in physical bodies. This means that our spirituality is a big part of who we are, whether we are conscious about it or not. It defines our thoughts, feelings, intentions, and many other things that build up to who we are. Being spiritual therefore means being aware of this important aspect of who we are. We need to understand our spirituality and know how to nurture it for a better and healthier internal environment.

Cultivating our spirituality is an important aspect in understanding who we are and our identity. It helps us plug into and communicate with our inner being. Our inner being is our thoughts, feelings, intentions, emotions and so on. As Eckhart Tolle says, to be conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from mind, this is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey. What does this mean, though? It sounds fancy, but what does it really mean?

We need to reclaim (take back, find within, unstick) our consciousness (the deep sense of knowledge, wisdom and truth within each of us) from mind (the patterns and habits that our thoughts get us trapped in).

As we get in touch with our spirituality, we begin to be more sensitive to the various things that define who we are. Because we know that our lives are influenced and moulded by this inner environment, by taking time to nurture this inner environment (our spirituality), we are then able to affect our outer environment as well. So really, spirituality is a powerful catalyst for change in our lives

Practicing spirituality

The next aspect in understanding, embracing and nurturing our spirituality and is practicing it.

Practicing spirituality has a unifying effect. The basis of all religion is simply the realisation that we are all spiritual beings in physical bodies. So at the core of all major religions this is embraced. Underneath all the structure of these religions is the teaching to seek the higher consciousness of the human existence — one based and founded in love.

Love is the highest consciousness we can aspire to. In truth,  love is the only true religion. All the various names we have for different religions are just that, names. Different ways of giving one very strong instruction: love.

As we embrace our spirituality and begin to attain this higher consciousness that is love, the walls between us begin to crumble. As we see things in a purer and more objective way, we see that the differences between us are only perceived, not real. We begin to reach a state of self awareness and connectedness with ourselves, each other and the universe and understand that we are all one in love and love is in all of us as one.

As this understanding deepens, life and indeed the afterlife, become more understandable and easier to embrace. We know then that the end of our lives here does not mean the end of us; spirituality tells us that we live on, our spiritual self lives on indefinitely and eternally.

As Anne Siloy put it, when we leave this world, how much we have loved will be our true legacy. It is the only thing we leave behind and carry with us.





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