Saturday, December 17, 2022



We hear a lot of people these days using the phrase "more spiritual than religious," which makes us wonder what they really mean when they label themselves as such. It has been our experience that there is a soul-deep difference between the truly spiritual and the religious—a difference we call spiritual emergence versus religious urgency.

Spiritual Emergence is the gradual unfolding of spiritual revelation that causes minimal 'disruption' to our daily activities because we are somewhat prepared by our nature for the mystic. On the other hand, there are individuals who experience what we call religious urgency, which can cause significant disruption in their daily lives, as these people are often unprepared for mystical experiences because they consider themselves more religious than spiritual.

Urgent spiritual experiences such as visions, deep-felt meditation, out-of-body experiences, apparitions and precognitive dreams are usually exhilarating and can be life-changing and very transformative -- moving to a place that is more spiritual than religious. . However, these same experiences can also be deeply disturbing for people who fall into the category of being more religious than spiritual.

Those who are more spiritual than religious seem to have less difficulty with such mystical experiences. Why? Spiritually inclined people are often more open to mystical experiences. They feel more connected to the clarity of life. They have a spiritual, not religious, mindset! Their openness to the non-physical and ethereal dimensions of reality make them perfect recipients for this life-affirming experience.

Part of the challenge that highly religious people face in transformational experiences is that they are grounded after experiencing these 'higher octaves' of reality. These 'altered states' are usually alien, even taboo, when it comes to their underlying righteousness.

Because of their sectarian barriers, mainstream religious people are very reluctant to integrate higher spiritual experiences into their religious practice. They may feel that they will be disturbed by these experiences.

How to Use Transcendent Experience

Great spiritual teachers and mystics assure us that these sublime experiences are natural and healthy. They see these experiences as evidence of our evolving spirituality and understanding. They encourage us to willingly allow higher spiritual/mystical experiences to touch our lives and to let the memories of those experiences – and therefore the transformative value of those experiences – flow into our daily lives.

Living our lives based on embedded religious theology makes it difficult to allow spiritual and metaphysical teachings into our worldview. What usually happens is that the cognitive dissonance created by new mind-blowing 'experimental facts' tightens the reins of public dogma so that any progress - and openness - to potentially transformative truths is completely blocked.

How it affects churches and spiritual communities

Indeed, this is the troubling dynamic we see today in spiritual communities/new thought churches/liberal churches. If the leadership of those denominations is stuck in an embedded religious theology, it will be very difficult to get a spiritual message that is not religious to a member who considers himself more spiritual than religious. It's even harder to see eye-to-eye with ministers and music directors who hesitate—or outright refuse—to change lyrics to complement the minister's spiritual guiding message. It's the old story -- you know, about pouring new wine into old wine skins!

On the other hand, if the leadership in the church setting is more spiritual than religious (services marked by stained glass windows and pews in church buildings), members who consider themselves more religious than spiritual demand a message. Music that is universally open and more staunchly religious than spiritual. The two groups behave like oil and water. And the ministers of these divided denominations work between a rock and a hard place because it is impossible to please both parties!

If you have ever been or are currently involved in a spiritual/religious community consisting of a culture of religious-oriented and spiritual-oriented people in the same sanctuary at the same time, you know that this is a recipe for conflict and division. Churches attribute their difficulties to moving from family size to pastoral size to program size. While there is some truth to that view, most of the difficulty lies in philosophical and religious differences.


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