Spirituality compared to religion
While I consider myself to be a member of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, I have never been to the ISKCON temple in Seattle and would probably be quite unwelcome in most ISKCON temples around the world (unless I kept my mouth shut). Why is that? Because while I whole-heartedly accept the teachings of of the Founder of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada, I refuse to let anyone else tell me how to interpret those teachings. To me the essence of spirituality, or trying to become conscious of God, is that while I use scripture to help me understand God, I have to let events in my life fuel actual realizations. In a religion, the leaders of the religion tell the members how scripture is to be interpreted. For instance if the scripture says, “Thou shalt not kill”, a religion may interpret that to mean “thou shalt not commit murder”. If a member of the congregation finds that a more literal understanding of the scripture which includes not killing animals helps him/her become more conscious of God, the religion in question may shun the member in question particularly if he/she shares his understanding with other members of the congregation. The key in a religion is a consensus of beliefs. In spirituality, the key is to be open to the truth, even if it inconveniences the person who seeks to be closer to God.
A godbrother recently sent me this quote from the Bible: “I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth. holding the four winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth nor the sea, nor on any tree”. “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having THE SEAL of the living God, and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, TILL WE HAVE SEALED THE SERVANTS OF OUR GOD IN THEIR FOREHEADS!” [Rev. 7:1-3] While no religion would interpret this to indicate my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, being the “angel ascending from the east” or the seal of the servants of God to be the mark that Srila Prabhupada’s followers wear on their foreheads, a spiritualist would have to consider it to be a possibility. With that in mind, a sincere spiritualist could request that God clarify this and would accept events in his/her life that could show him the truth.