Do we need religion in order to benefit from a spiritual life?
(Inspired by Rupert Sheldrake)
Throughout history, people have been connected by religion and benefited from its spiritual practices. Do we really need religion in order to fulfill our spiritual needs? Today, many members of the younger generation see institutionalized religion as old and irrelevant but still search for spiritual practices. For these people, spirituality offers a place of acceptance to experience the benefits of spiritual practices on their own terms.
Leaving religion does not have to mean leaving spiritual practices. A growing amount of people understand the benefits of these practices. They look to receive positive benefits by fasting, meditation, or attending public singing. Choosing a spiritual practice allows a person to decide what and how to observe.
One benefit of a religious framework is that it offers people structured methods to practice. This gives them the option of advancing their practice to higher levels. The challenge for a spiritual person is to remain curious and learn from a wide range of practices. For both, faith in the process is necessary for creating an effective spiritual inner world.
The following are some important spiritual practices. Vital for an individual’s development but not necessarily religious: meditation, gratitude, connection to nature, public singing, rituals, and pilgrimage. All of these offer a sense of spirituality detached from any religion.
The young Jewish community will be a pioneer in combining institutionalized religion with a Western spiritual movement. It’s hard to predict what Jewish religious life will look like. They will likely combine some aspects of the traditional and spiritual worlds.
The rabbis and the leaders of the communities will be wise to internalize the change. Allowing themselves to remain relevant for future generations will give them a headstart in our ever-changing society.
photo credit: Jared Rice