Knowing that there can be spirituality without religion and having taken the steps to obtain this kind of spirituality, you may now want to ask me to describe this kind of life. Here is my description of a life of spirituality without religion. This description focuses on three essential points without which there can be no spirituality without religion.
Perception of Truth as a Person, not an Idea or Statement
The first characteristic of a life of spirituality without religion is the perception that truth is a person, not an idea or a statement.
Most people, having been influenced by the teaching about truth from Aristotle and the scholastic philosophers, tend to regard truth as a statement. They think that truth is the agreement of a statement with reality. If the statement agrees with reality, then it is a true statement and there is truth in that statement. If it does not agree, then it is a false statement and there is no truth in that statement.
But as we know more and more people are today dissatisfied with the statements about their religion. This dissatisfaction can even be observed in the High School and College classes of religion or theology. Students are asked to memorize statements which to them have no relevance to their life: that there are three persons in one God, that God created this world in six days, that God became man to deliver mankind from sin, etc. More and more students feel that what they need is not a series of statements to guide their life but someone with whom they can relate.
Thus the perception is initiated that what matters most is not any expression of truth as we find it in a statement but a person with whom we can relate. Later the person living a life of spirituality without religion discovers that this person is a spirit who expresses himself, who reveals himself in all the areas of his life, and this revelation is done through words and other works of art or technology. This is the truth who unfolds himself in our life and in our activities, in our dreams, our ambitions, our daily routine.
Attitude Is All Important
In a life of spirituality without religion attitude assumes an all important role. The focus is no longer on any action but on the attitude which produces that action.
When we were children we were told by our parents and teachers to do this and to do that: to obey them, to respect our elders, to study, to do house chores, to buy this, to avoid doing that, etc. And when we had our own children we transferred what we learned from our parents and teachers. We too trained our children to do things, to act in certain ways.
What was almost never given importance was the forming of the proper attitudes within us. Let me give one example of how this was left out.
When we were very small children we were trained to say "Thank you" to anyone who gave us a favor, whether that favor was a thing like a candy or an action such as carrying us. And so we did. We said "Thank you". It became a habit with us and we grew up saying "Thank you" to anyone giving us a favor. What was almost not taught us was the reason why we have to say "Thank you". We grew up with this custom of saying "Thank you" but we never realized that the attitude behind these two words was more important than the words themselves. Thus we did not grow up with the hourly, daily attitude of gratitude for what we are enjoying in life. We had to read books like THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH in order to realize the importance of gratitude. It is only then that we know that gratitude brings down all the blessings we need and want in life. Then the attitude of constant, not just sporadic, gratefulness becomes important to us.
In a life of spirituality without religion what matters most is attitude. Persons who live this life constantly transform their attitudes in life. From being contended to receive things in life, they go out of their way to think of giving things to other persons who need these things, whether they be food, services or just a blessing kept in the secret of the mind.
The Code of Conduct Is the Good of the Other Person
Very early in life we were taught the Ten Commandments. In fact many of us memorized them. Then we were taught the other things we were supposed to do: read the Bible everyday, go to church on Sunday, do some extra work in the parish, etc. When we went to school we had subjects like religion or catechism or values education where we learned the proper code of conduct. We grew up with the feeling that we have to conform with the standards expected of us either as just a human being or a Christian or a member of another religion.
In a life of spirituality without religion the code of conduct is no longer what we need to do in order to conform ourselves to the standards expected of us, to make ourselves happy or to save our souls. These things no longer matter. What matters is the good of the other person. Surprisingly this is defined as that which you think is good for you. This is the positive expression of the Golden Rule. Do unto others what you would want them to do to you. You no longer need to remember the Ten Commandments or learn the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle or the Categorical Imperative of Immanuel Kant or the Values Education of the present day teachers. All you need to learn is what is good for the other person. And this is easy to find out because it is that which you think is good for you.
Such are the main characteristics of a life of spirituality without religion. No mention is made that you have to attend or not attend church, to profess or not to profess a confession of faith, to follow or not to follow the laws in the Bible or in the Code of Canon Law. All you need is that you grow in your relationship with the Truth whom you discover to be a person, not a statement; that you keep on transforming the attitudes in your life; and you just think and do what is good for the other person. There is more likelihood of being happy with this kind of life than with the one we were were used to where we have to profess a creed, attend a church service, and follow our conscience informed by the moral codes we learned in school