Spirituality & Culture: The Two Feet of Religion

Photo Credit: Tanja Mamas

Religions have taken a beating in recent times. Hindus are becoming Christian and Christians are becoming Hindu. Many people are choosing to leave religion altogether.

The distorted acts of a few misguided people have caused huge swaths of people to want to turn away from religion entirely. For instance, ISIS with their extremism and acts of terrorism happening all too often around the world.

The truth is, people have made a mess of religion. Distortions and superstitions have crept in. Religions get distorted as knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. It is the tragic effect of time. As a result, many people feel that religion simply does not make sense in the modern world. They figure it would be easier to sterilize religions entirely.

Can we get past the misconceptions and distortions rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Is it really wise to abandon the value of religions and all they have to offer?

Religion has one foot in spirituality. I’m not talking about the emotional level that spirituality can sometimes be practiced on. I mean spirituality in the deepest sense, beyond thoughts and emotions, the unified field level that birthed and underlies all things in the universe. This is where we start to make sense of life. It’s where we begin to understand how spirituality and thereby religion relates to Consciousness.

We can’t talk about religion without talking about cultural integrity. Cultures culture the awareness. People evolve better if they live in a healthy culture. Religion has the other foot in cultural integrity. Like a foot enables a person to stand, religion upholds the cultural integrity of society and thereby holds the people, evolves the people, and cultures their awareness. In this sense, religion is a good thing.

Sadly, this decade of American history will be remembered as a time of great loss of cultural tradition and integrity. Confusion runs amok. We do well to remember that cultures must change with the in-breath and out-breath of time. Yet, the fabric is delicate and must not be torn.

Current attempts for world peace often result in a blurring of cultures, and thereby a dilution of integrity or barely a tolerance of cultural differences. However, I suggest that the answer lies not in mere tolerance, but love… love for humanity that includes love of cultural diversity.

Cultures should not blur together any more than colors in a painter’s arsenal should all be mixed into one heap. They must each keep their own integrity, yet they must learn to live in harmony with one another. I am certainly not advocating for segregation with all its prejudicial baggage. There is a huge difference between cultural integrity and prejudice. Cultural integrity is like birds flocking together. Are the inclinations you feel within yourself those of cultural integrity or prejudice? Our indoctrinations run deep, so this arena merits exploration. How do we react when another culture’s tradition clashes with our cultural upbringing?

Without religion and cultural integrity to guide the modern world through these turbulent times, we lose both our legs to stand on. There is a delicate balance between upholding our own cultural integrity and honoring that of another. Yet that is what peace, brotherhood, and harmony are all about.

Dr. Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. From personal issues to global trends, Dr. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Dr. Michael Mamas has been teaching for 35 years (including the U.S., India, Europe, and Canada) and writes on a variety of subjects on his blogs, MichaelMamas.net and DrMichaelMamas.com.