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commented on April 20, 2014
In my opinion, the distinction between spirituality and religion follows:
Most religions are based on writings or talks of one individual who has experienced a reality existing apart from the physical reality, often referred to as the spiritual reality.
Followers of that individual then establish a religion based on their interpretations of the writings or talks of that one individual. It is these numerous interpretations that create a variety of religions. Some religions, such as Christianity, dictate rules of behavior that if followed promise an experience of the spiritual reality in the afterlife.
Here, the distinction between religion and spirituality becomes blurred. There are traditions that promise an experience of the spiritual reality in this life. They recommend certain practices such as meditation or yoga in order to experience the spiritual reality. Examples would be Buddhism, Hinduism and Theosophy. These traditions are often referred to as religions, but in my opinion, they would be more appropriately referred to as spiritual traditions.
This is where the distinction between spirituality and religion becomes further blurred. There are levels of spiritual traditions. On one level, individuals following a particular spiritual tradition often worship a deity or deities.
Attainment of the spiritual reality in this life has been referred to as Cosmic Consciousness, Unity Consciousness, Universal Consciousness, Universal Mind, Unity Consciousness, Buddha Consciousness, God Consciousness, The Great Awakening, Spiritual Enlightenment, Oneness with the Universe and the state of Oneness etc.
It is extremely rare that this state is permanent; it can be experienced for only an instant, for a few minutes or hours, it can even be experienced during sleep. The state provides the experience of “direct knowing” as opposed to conceptual understanding. There are simple thought experiments not directly related to spirituality that can produce degrees of the state. I’m informed that atheists who have no spiritual training have experienced the state.
Once this state is experienced, regardless of how it is experienced, individuals experience affinity with a domain beyond “normal” human consciousness. It has been interestingly proposed that this state represents the evolution of human consciousness by comparing it to color vision which did not spontaneously appear in our species, but very gradually through the appearance subtle shades of color appearing first in various individuals.
Astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell founded IONS as a result of his experience of this state when in space. He uses the terms Epiphany, Samadhi and Satori to discuss his experience. His very short videos can be viewed by entering “Edgar Mitchell Videos” in the search engine of this site. It seems appropriate that we know a bit about why IONS sponsors these discussions.
Brief comments or questions are welcome. Please avoid lengthy dissertations.