Every single image, word, emotion linked to religion has been fed into you since the moment you are born. They are not truths. Many images might have some truth in them, but the images do not become truth merely because they wear the cloak of religion. You are nothing but a product of mass programming irrespective of which religion you profess to belong to or reject. That is a powerful realization that can free you tremendously if you choose to allow it.
The truly spiritual are those who would rather directly allow the sense of divinity to reveal itself in whatever form it chooses to awe one with, and spontaneously respond to the voice of divinity directly with the best possible authenticity. This calls for you to trust in your own conversation with the divine and which may or not subscribe to another person's method, view or experience. This willingness to subject oneself to directly experience the divine in one's own terms is to be spiritual. The divine is too powerful a force to need a translator. Just the sincere willingness to be the direct subject is enough.
To rely on another person's experience, sense and version of divinity over oneself because they seem to be an established authority is to be religious. To do this with not a single doubt. in complete surrender is to be truly religious. This works for those who are willing to be influenced by authority and who can surrender to it, without question.
Both routes have their subscribers equally. There is no better or worse route. They are just different.
I have always been and will be highly spiritual, in deep awe of the divine, manifest in so many ways and forms all around one. From my childhood, deep down I have always resisted religion, because it did not offer me the personal, always making it feel like one size fits all, as if I was being forced to wear some other person's skin and faking it as mine, when i could so easily enjoy and thrill just being me - the slow. fumbling seeker. Most often, this would make one a rebel as a child, questioning authority, someone unable to merely follow customs and rules without question. This earnest seeking is often mistaken in many a child as mere argument or a desire to poke holes into authority when all along one is just longing for the authenticity of direct experience instead of the borrowed weight of enforced authority.
In the religious journey and religious practices, one can admire the luminaries in describing their journey, experience or even be thankful to them for leaving easy to follow signs for one to walk by after them. But, it is their journey. And, many are content to walk on the path lit by those who have shone their light ahead, secure that they will never lose their way in the bright light cast by those great souls.
When i traverse on the spiritual journey, I will want to walk free of the shadow of their experiences and journeys, grateful that they had done it because it means it is possible, but content to walk lightly bearing my own authentic candle however faint the light, however flickering its strength, and however slow i might travel.
- Srividya Srinivasan