Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Limitations of Being ‘Spiritual but Not Religious’

Rabbi David Wolpe nails the fundamental weakness of the "spiritual but not religious" notion:
Spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation. Spirituality soothes. Religion mobilizes. Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Religion is dissatisfied with the world.

To be spiritual but not religious confines your devotional life to feeling good. If we have learned one thing about human nature, however, it is that people’s internal sense of goodness does not always match their behavior. To know whether your actions are good, a window is a more effective tool than a mirror.

No one expects those without faith to obligate themselves to a religious community. But for one who has an intuition of something greater than ourselves to hold that this is a purely personal truth, that it demands no communal searching and struggle, no organization to realize its potential in this world, straddles the line between narcissistic and solipsistic. If the spirit moves you to goodness, that is wonderful. For too many, though, spirituality is a VIP card allowing them to breeze past all those wretched souls waiting in line or doing the work.


Lama Surya Das said...

Spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation. This statement by itself shows just how far lost this guy and most Religious people are. When you are born into this world you don't have a religion but you do have spirit.

Ask The Lama

C. Wingate said...

I do not see how this constitutes a telling response. To say to a person, "you were born with a spirit," does not in any way tell him how to live, or even indicates that there is some way to live that is to its benefit. True religion says that man's spirit is born out of joint, and that he lives in obligation to God to make his spirit right with the divine. Spirituality merely suggests that if a man is unhappy, the spirit may be treated to lessen the pain. I am not too terribly interested in the knowledge that Buddhism tends more towards the latter line of thought, since I am a Christian.