If you have thought about this question for yourself, what have you concluded?
Perhaps you found the answer recently on, of all things, the social network Facebook. The buzz going around came from the quote, false though it turned out to be, from Pope Francis speaking about the difference between religion and spirituality. Now it has been revealed he never said you don’t need to believe in God to be a good person and he did not say you don’t need to go to church or give money to your church. Some among us who consider themselves to be non-religious applauded the visiting Pope for this revelation....even though now we know he never made that claim.
But, that one quote may have started us thinking abut the differences between religion and spirituality. Having religion usually means you participate in the activities of a house of worship and follow the teaching of one or more holy scriptures, and the congregation is most often led by a religious leader (the pastor, priest, rabbi, monk or imam). But, beyond this religious guidance, those who go to a church or temple appreciate congregating among other like-minded worshippers, while together celebrating the rituals and the social events.
Churches also come with a belief system. and some, especially those who are evangelicals or fundamentalists, are only too happy to talk about “their” church’s belief system They often consider it to be their moral obligation to do everything they can to change the minds of others, to bring them into the fold, even going so far as to insist the laws of our government be more supportive of the value system they hold to be true.
While it is true some religious people are also highly spiritual, others do not relate to spirituality nor do they care to explore or question beyond what their religion teaches them. Although hard to define, spirituality may be thought of as a state in which we feel connected to something greater than ourselves and that greater something may be called God or universal intelligence or source energy. It can also mean we feel an abiding connection to nature, the creative impulse, to each other and to the deepest parts of ourselves.
Spirituality is the weekly topic explored on SuperSoul Sunday, with conversations between Oprah Winfrey and her guests who are all respected thinkers, authors, visionaries and spiritual leaders. This Sunday morning show looks, with depth, at such topics as “What is God?” “What do you know for sure?” “What happens when we die?” “Is there life after death?” “What is our purpose in life?”
These are hard questions and while each guest responds in their own way, their answers are very much aligned. When Oprah asks, “What is the soul?”, here is how they have responded...
Gary Zukav...The soul is that part of you that existed before you were born and before you die. The soul is the highest, most noble part of yourself that you can reach for.
Debbie Ford ...It’s the part of us that never dies. it is who we are at our core and carries all the lessons we learned from the past and will carry us into the future.
Eckard Tolley... Our soul is our inner-most being, the presence you are beyond form, the consciousness you are, who you are in essence.
Marianne Williamson... II is the truth of us. Inside is the being God has created.
Jean Houston...It is the essence of who we are; it transcends our leaving. It is the lure of our becoming.
Deepak Chopra... It is the core of your being, it is eternal, it doesn’t exist in time or space, it is your internal reference point with which you should always be in touch.
Wayne Dyer, who you may know from his popular public television appearances and who surprised many with his recent passing, left us with this explanation, “The Soul is the birthless and the deathless part of us. The soul is infinite; there is not a place it is not.”
Each of us will experience grief at “losing” a loved one through their passing, but when our spiritual understanding informs us there truly is no death and although they have
passed on from this earth, their essence remains... this may bring much more peace and comfort to those who are left behind.