Two Types of Spirituality... Faith and Knowledge
The term "spirituality" is a confusing term. Usually, when one mentions "spirituality", the first thought in many people's minds is that of "religion". While religion is an aspect of spirituality, spirituality is not an aspect of religion. Spirituality covers other areas of belief as well. Put simply, spirituality is the all-encompassing arena of "belief in something greater." This can be a god, oneself as the greater being, or simply, the life-force or essence that surrounds us all. But, society and religion lead their followers in many different directions replacing the core meanings with moralistic and idealistic terms in hopes of garnering attention by answering those "big questions" pertaining to life, death, the after-life, and a god.
--- Faith vs. Knowledge ---
While many religious zealots view the idea of knowledge-based spirituality as "agnostic", indeed, it is not. As a matter of fact, even agnosts believe in something, which provides them an alternative stance to organized religion and gods. You have to believe in something to take a stance!
Faith-based spirituality is the belief and trust that things will be as they will be in the future. It is the acceptance of the "great mysteries" of life and death for which religion and society teaches that there are no "definitive answers." Such an approach to spirituality creates a fear-based environment based on gods who are vindictive and uncaring. Believers place their lives into the hands of an unseen being in the hope that all will "work out for the best."
Knowledge-based spirituality is the understanding and kinship of all and the desire to achieve and progress through life toward one's own Vision and goals. The "great mysteries" become topics of personal research and, with an open mind, answers can be acquired from the environment and the Universe. This type of spirituality invites one to set aside fears and examine the information and entities of the surrounding environment. One has the chance to take life into one's own hands and guide it along a path to one's own desires.
--- Hatred and Faith ---
One of the problems of today is that, in our world, wars, hatred, and bias begin in the moral grounds established by religion and society. Religion creates a solid separation between different factions of humanity. These factions take the core ideals of society and mutate them to suit the needs of their particular beliefs. In the end, when societal boundaries are breached, and control languishes over the ranks, uprisings and bitter conflicts begin to restore order. The stronger of the factions wins and forces their beliefs on the weaker.
In faith-based factions, fear is instilled and faith that a great hereafter exists. People fight to maintain their beliefs because they've finally "forced" their conscious minds to accept the unanswered questions based on invisible and unfounded guesses by their "noblemen". The battles are fought to ensure that their foundations and comfort zones are not affected by the infidels of the intruding factions.
However, with knowledge-based factions, fear is minimized and the great hereafter is right here and now and continues on forever. Knowledge provides the mind with a greater degree of processing information arriving at our many senses in many contexts. It allows us to look beyond the basics and outside of the accepted "comfort zones" to comprehend the ideas and ideals of other entities, both physical and spiritual.
--- Opening Your Mind ---
As part of our being, we all have the need to believe in something greater than ourselves. There is a part of us that "has to belong." Many people fall deeply into organized religion because it provides the camaraderie and a focal point for their community as well as a basis for the moral code of the community. These, in addition to the faith-based answers to the "big questions", provide a comfort zone and a foundation for many. However, by opening one's mind and examining the many facets behind these "big questions", one can develop and acquire the true answers within one's own context.
What is the key? Context-free rationalization. Of course, "context-free" is a little strong as we must all have a context, or a point of reference, that we can use to compare information and apply our rules and belief systems. However, open experience and vast knowledge can provide us with multiple contexts that we can use to devise a wider view of a particular piece of information. This wider view is what is called an "open mind". The open mind has no safety zone as it is always risking it's "comfort zones" in search of new information and new ways of examining situations and other beings.
--- What's next? ---
Acquiring this knowledge and ability to move across many contexts is not a simple task as it requires the ability to acquire, accept, and process information outside of our current context. It is a "chicken or the egg" situation; however, it is a decision that we make as humans to initiate such a move.
By opening our minds and perceptions, we allow our conscious minds the ability to communicate more freely with our subconscious minds. In doing so, the vast amounts of information available in the collective unconscious, "The Grid", "The Universal Library" is available to us, simply by "looking." Consider the idea of opening the mind as a primer for what follows once you are able to use your mind to its fullest capabilities and acquire immeasurable knowledge from all entities across the Universe and throughout time.
This is the true meaning of spirituality. The knowledge and desire to exist with and within the Universal essence. To accept and acquire knowledge that is freely available to you through time and space. Finally, the knowledge to use this information in a way that is beneficial to you, as protecting and projecting yourself, you are providing a pathway for others and the betterment of your communities.
Edward B. Toupin is an author, publisher, life-strategy coach, counselor, Reiki Master, technical writer, and PhD Candidate living in Las Vegas, NV. Among other things, he authors books, articles, and screenplays on topics ranging from career success through life organization and fulfillment. Check out some of his recent print and electronic books as well as his articles covering various life-changing topics! For more information, and to find out about his upcoming title on book publishing, e-mail Edward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (c) 2004 Edward B. Toupin