‘I ain’t religious, but I am spiritual’
When I hear this aphorism, it always seems like an oxymoron to me.
It always seemed to me that those who speak it are holding onto a contradictory premise that cannot be obtained.
It took me years of spiritual study to understand just what was being said. Many people, including the faithful, tend to say that the spirit and the soul are one in the same, confuse the terms, or consider them overlapping.
I have come to realize that spirit and the soul are two completely different premises or parts of the human person. The spirit, defined by the mystics, is tending toward mind, universals, absolutes and ultimate mystery. The soul tends toward psyche, experience, particulars, and “me.”
What I sense and feel from the person making this statement, “I ain’t religious, but I am spiritual,” is a separation within the self of the two human parts, doing an end run around who they really are.
We were created spirit by the ultimate mystery in the beginning and come to Mother Earth to have a human experience. It is the soul that gives us “identity,” our true self, Who we are.
True religion helps us find that part of ourselves in God. So saying “I am not religious” does an end-run around who I am for I don’t know who I am!
I become a wanderer, always seeking that unknown part of me. Without soul and body work, spirit frankly tends to illusory, self-righteous, and ideological, even a bit of idolatrous.
The holy task is not about becoming “spiritual” nearly as much as becoming human. Seeking the human part means that I have to include suffering into the equation as much as love and joy. Our shadow self is always there. I have to learn how to hold the paradox of the suffering along with the love and joy as well.
In 1 John 3:2, the biblical revelation is saying that we are already spiritual beings; we just haven’t waked up to it yet.
The phrase has created a terrible kind of dualism between the spiritual and the non-spiritual. The “I am spiritual” has become a mask to cover the hurting deeper self, the unknown self. Matter (soul) and spirit have never been separate.
This is the principle of Incarnation. Jesus came to tell us what we thought was seemingly two different worlds of matter and spirit are and always been one, the body of God, the physical world.
Paul, in Ephesians 2:11-20, writes that God puts them together in one body which we Christians personified in time and space as Jesus. Until now, we just couldn’t see it.
Go, the eternal Christ mystery says that matter and spirit coexist as one. You will not feel whole or free until you accept this basic fact of the universe. It is relational. We are both religious (soul) and spiritual (God).
A suggested Mantra from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality: “Jesus came to show me how to be more human.”
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