MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

What is Spirituality?

Burning Bush

Illustration: Elizabeth Wang

On Mount Sinai… something extraordinary happened to Moses. He had a direct encounter with God. This was a spiritual experience. The Ten Commandments were the container for that experience. They are religion.

There is a difference… between religion and spirituality… Religions would be the containers of faith—containers malleable and corruptible in the hands of the people who fashion and control them. Spirituality would be faith’s original impulse and essence. I appreciate this distinction and at the same time am wary of drawing it too starkly. Religious traditions are bearers of manifold beauty and a weight of human reverence across time. They sustain disciplines and rituals human beings crave as much as they crave raw encounters with the divine. From our first breath, we need structure and routine as deeply as we delight in mystery. In some mysterious way, “containing” religion helps to unlock the sacred within us. It enables us to participate in the human encounter with the divine even when our own spirits are dry. Even in those times, we can say the words and sing the songs and find courage in them, borne along by the hope and trust and company of others.

A rabbi, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, gave me the best illustration I know of the difference between spirituality and religion. On Mount Sinai, she says, something extraordinary happened to Moses. He had a direct encounter with God. This was a spiritual experience. The Ten Commandments were the container for that experience. They are religion. I find this example wonderful because it gets precisely at the wrong way religion is often taught, and the way it enters politics through words and positions. We proclaim and pass on the rules. We divorce them from the sweep of the spiritual history by which they were discerned—a history that tells of an incomplete and ever-evolving human capacity to comprehend the nature of God and the ultimate meaning of religion…

–Krista Tippett

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Written by MattAndJojang

November 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

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