Spiritual, But Not Religious Pt3

Julian Lord, Christian, Intellectual, Combatant 🙂  has replied to my post yesterday –

Here is his wonderful response –

(the sections in bold italics are my previous responses to him…)

tell me if I’m wrong here but what you’re implying is that spiritualism doesn’t employ an intellectual rigour, whereas religion does. That spirituality is diaphanous and lacking in rational thinking, whereas religion is substantiated by scholarship and learning.

No, that’s not at all what I wanted to suggest.

(and BTW I wouldn’t agree with that dictionary definition either)

Cognition has multiple aspects, and I’d think that rigour and rationality belong to methodology not intellect, scholarship and learning to education not intellect.

The distinction I was thinking of is more one of focus, rather than capability. We’re also getting back into that area that my long post of some weeks back was addressing, the one you never saw that got destroyed by WordPress.

If the intuitive is anything, it’s a focus on perception, including both external and internal perception, and as a guidance system, the intellect would be a recipient of the intuition, and so of course should never absent from the intuitive “process”. The intellective focus and its use of intuition is perhaps best described in Descartes’ Discours de la méthode, whereby the intuition is more narrowly focused into a tool of the intellect.

And I think the relationship between spirituality and religion is similar. One can focus on the spiritual to the detriment of the religious, just as one can focus on the religious to the detriment of the spiritual. But I think that each belongs to the other, just as intuition and intellect do, and one could also focus on the intuitive to the detriment of the intellect, or on the intellect to the detriment of one’s intuition.

But I think that wherever one’s own focus might be, it would be a mistake to neglect the other — and it’s that kind of neglect that leads to that sort of bad dictionary definition, or to religion without spirituality.

Again though, it comes down to definitions. I define religion as an organisational structure for those that adhere to a particular set of beliefs about the cause, nature, and purpose of their existence.

I very much disagree. 😉

That definition is more appropriate to a sect of Philosophy, or a political organisation, and I don’t see that there’s anything uniquely religious about its contents.

Atheists often view religion as being nothing more than that, but as we’ve agreed, religion is meaningless without spirituality, and there’s nothing pertaining to spirituality in that definition, which is therefore wrong, or at the very least incomplete.

I’d argue that a religion is an organisational structure for those that adhere to, and practice, a particular form of spirituality.

Not every religion is going to be strongly productive of doctrines and moral imperatives, but even so, these too are either centred on spirituality or they’re meaningless.

But unless you’re some sort of hermit, or otherwise isolated, by choice or otherwise, you’ll tend towards life in community, and a community of those sharing their spirituality is fundamentally religious, even if it might not be “a religion”. Just as the spirituality of the Camino belongs to all pilgrims, and the Camino is a community on pilgrimage.

Religion is intellective, in my view, because it is the organisation of the spiritual into a persistent, community form — to continue the parallel with the Camino, pilgrims tend to all follow along the same path, instead of dispersing each person along his own individual route.

If spirituality is intuitive, then, it is in the individuality of experience and action, whether in or out of community — but we are not alone, and the spiritual community of religion is precious, and not opposed to it.

Monks in procession