I am a religious man without, particularly, a religion. These days people call this “being spiritual,” and often people — especially women — will tell me, as they get a sense of my personality, “I have the feeling you’re a very spiritual person.”
I’m not. I’m religious. I just happen to lack a religion.
The difference between a spiritual and a religious person is in the motive. A spiritual person is in the game for themselves. They are looking to develop themselves, in much the same way a man or woman who goes to the gym does. This is perfectly respectable.
A religious person, in contrast, wants to put themselves in service. This is not necessarily exactly altruistic, in the sense that we think of Mother Theresa’s life of service to humanity as altruistic. In my case, I wanted my existence to matter. I wanted, and want, to become a positive force for good in this world, and this is somewhat more egotistical than Mother Theresa’s motive.
I tell you this by way of introduction. That, as we say, is my trip. I go to different churches sometimes, when I have a free Sunday. I meditate sometimes. What I find attractive in Christianity and Buddhism is the emphasis on cultivating brotherly love, on cultivating kindness and compassion.
I have never gone to church and heard this topic addressed. Not once. Have you? I mean, have you ever gotten a sermon or instruction on actually cultivating brotherly love?
At the Bangor Public Library’s catalog computer earlier this week, the machine spontaneously gave me a drop-down list of the previous user’s search terms. Those terms were:
spiritual growth & self-help
spiritual healing & meditation
spiritual healing / buda
spiritual healing / budist
yesterday i cried Continue reading