Religion: Foundation for Spiritual Learningsam
By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Religion is a structure through which spiritual learning can begin and mature. Over the years, as travelers advance, spiritual learning takes place more and more outside of a religious context, and occurs in daily life through personal spiritual experience. Personal spiritual experience is the natural extension of religious inquiry; the great religions were created to be spiritual highways for travelers to start learning about themselves and their relationship with Truth.
The followers of a great teacher or Prophet, in order to help spread the teaching, created a system to do this. Often, the Prophet did not create many of the elements that exist today as part of ‘the new religion;’ the Prophet presented the current spiritual method to perceive and align with Truth. Over the years, many customs and duties were added to help create an eternal form; often, these were based upon sociological and cultural necessity. This is the external form we see every day. It is not the internal, living and vibrant spiritual reality.
One of the tendencies of the earth phase is repetition; repeating various components or steps is a helpful tool in most forms of learning. Generally, religious teaching makes good use of this; however, repetition has a tendency to lead toward hardening. This hardening or fossilization, slowly, replaces the living or vibrant element. In recent years, this lack of vibrancy has caused some to turn away from religion and seek inner spiritual experience elsewhere.
It is important for everyone to have a basic spiritual grounding and in our culture; early on, this happens in religious training and worship. For many, this is a starting place and because this learning is intended to be enriched and built upon, often it is basic and designed to reach large numbers of people. As the child matures, from this foundation other forms of spiritual experience become possible.
While, it is possible to have advanced spiritual learning and experience within the context of organized religion, this form of learning may not be emphasized or acknowledged to be available. Due to this lack of emphasis, people seek this experience elsewhere.
To make this clearer, let us take the example of carpentry. When the apprentice carpenter is first learning his/her trade, they are given the most basic of tasks. Often these are repetitious, but gradually the apprentice learns about wood, and its many uses. After a period of training, working on a number of projects, and interacting with other trades, the apprentice graduates into becoming a carpenter.
As the years pass, and the carpenter seeks to increase learning, he studies how trees grow and effects environmental conditions have upon grade, wood elasticity and potential longevity. In time, he may become adept at knowing how the wood will weather, and if it will last, simply by its smell and feel.
As he reaches middle years, the carpenter continues learning and works on projects in the city and country. Over the years, he has worked with wood, in his region, in every conceivable fashion. Compared to the basic, repetitious education of the young apprentice, long ago our mature carpenter became a Master.
O spiritual traveler, learn from religion and learn from your life; travel further and embrace the wisdom of your heart.
Also read by Dr. Bitkoff, Journey of Light: Trilogy, Authorhouse, 2004 and A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment, Llewellyn, 2008. These books are available from Publisher or on Amazon.com.
To contact author go to: www.stewartbitkoff.com.