Many people confuse spirituality and religion and then try to associate various spiritual paths with specific religious traditions. Spirituality, however, is not based in the beliefs, practices, or customary folkways of any religion. Spirituality seeks for direct experience of the greater reality of existence, independent of the mind’s ideas or beliefs, independent of any particular philosophical direction, independent of any emotional or vital relationships. While people are born into a particular religious background, which provides the context for the social life and moral code of their community, they have the opportunity to transcend religion when they take up the spiritual quest. Religion, in its purest and highest forms, certainly includes an element of spirituality, which is one reason for the confusion between the two.
For the spiritual path that seeks to hasten the advent and action of the next evolutionary stage, the evolutionary development of consciousness beyond the mind, supramental, there is no benefit to following a specific religious tradition. In fact, people are not obligated to give up their religion to take up the spiritual path, as long as they eventually understand that there can be no attachment to specific religious observances or practices if they get in the way of the spiritual development.
Even Hinduism, which has a long history of encouraging and codifying numerous spiritual practices, has its limitations and cannot be made a requirement for following the path of the supramental yoga.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “I do not take the same view of the Hindu religion as J. Religion is always imperfect because it is a mixture of man’s spirituality with his endeavours that come in in trying to sublimate ignorantly his lower nature. Hindu religion appears to me as a cathedral-temple, half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantastic in detail but always fantastic with a significance — crumbling or badly outworn in places, but a cathedral-temple in which service is still done to the Unseen and its real presence can be felt by those who enter with the right spirit. The outer social structure which it built for its approach is another matter.”
“The Ashram has nothing to do with Hindu religion or culture or any religion or nationality. The Truth of the Divine which is the spiritual reality behind all religions and the descent of the supramental which is not known to any religion are the sole things which will be the foundation of the work of the future.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 12, Other Aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Religion, pp. 352-355
maybe we just need to stop labeling everything, religion or spirituality, and recognize that they all have things in common – that being a desire to transcend the purely physical life towards something we perceive to be greater. we could have someone who is a christian or jew or hindu who has experienced the awakening of kundalini energy, but they label it as the power of god and proof of their admittance into heaven when the time comes. we can use religion as a path towards this or we can meditate and contemplate our way into it. maybe we even have a traumatic life event that triggers such a dramatic new perception on life, that we become instantaneously more loving and kind and empathetic and understanding on a deep spiritual level, and that is sufficient to bring about kundalini and the eventual ascension to higher realms. who knows…alas, we are human, and as a whole we will always label this or that, me or you, good or bad, right or wrong…
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