The following is in response to a question posed by the In Theory section of the local press regarding concerns about the growing trend to identify as “spiritual but not religious”.
Religions are distinguished as paths upon which one may encounter the Transcendent – that which greater than we (by whatever name it may be called).
Each religious path is paved with it’s own unique history, songs, values, prayers, rites of passage and rituals believed to facilitate such encounters, which are considered to be “spiritual” in nature.
For many the religious path and spiritual journey are one and the same. But for those who have been excluded from their religious path or otherwise hurt by religion, who object to the proven or potential corruptions within religion, the spiritual journey may involve studying/walking the roadmap of many religions, or of secular wisdom; it may involve forging one’s own path.
Since encountering the Transcendent tends to inspire service to humanity and all of creation those walking the path of religion are often well situated, if/when that actually happens, to join forces with those on the same path – in ways that foster accountability, are socially/environmentally necessary, deeply meaningful, and personally transformational.
Those walking self-chosen paths and fortunate enough to meet the Transcendent upon them can and usually do choose to do likewise. But, it may take a little more work to identify how and with whom to best put their spiritual insights into action.
Unitarian Universalism’s solution is to be a religion offering and encouraging a diverse range of paths for the spiritual journey. As well as many, many vital opportunities for service to that which is larger than we.
It is not uncommon to hear that such shared service is precisely where the Transcendent is discovered!