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Excerpt from "Adventures of the Soul: Journeys Through the Physical and Spiritual Dimensions"

Religion vs Spirituality

by James Van Praagh


The following is an excerpt from Adventures of the Soul: Journeys Through the Physical and Spiritual Dimensions by James Van Praagh. It is published by Hay House (September 8, 2014) and is available at all bookstores and online at www.hayhouse.com

Many people ask me about the difference between being religious and being spiritual. I think that difference is significant. Religion is a man-made, organized belief system consisting of various creeds, teachings, rituals, and documents and usually (but not always) revolves around a deity of some kind. If people follow a specific belief system, it is their conviction that this is how they will receive a greater position on the other side.

In contrast, spirituality is the very personal search to find the greater meaning in life and one’s existence in this world. It doesn’t have to involve rituals or written words and may encompass having a love for a Divine source, or God, and learning to use this all-encompassing energy in every situation. In being spiritual, you have a respect and love for self and an understanding of your connection to others.

There are many paths to reach the place where you treat yourself and others with kindness and feel at peace. I know many self-identified atheists who are kinder people than some “spiritual” or religious people, and vice versa. It’s all about constructing a belief system that works for you, makes you the best person you can possibly be, and encourages you to treat others with honor. There is not one correct way. I often say that all religions have bits of the truth, but no one religion has all of the truth. If the holy texts of the world’s religions are not viewed through the lens of love and acceptance, I think it does the authors a great disservice.

The one element of religion I don’t like (and this is a general statement) is that some people believe that their way is the only way. Unfortunately, many of the world’s wars are based upon a sense that a certain belief system is the only true word of God. It sets up a sense of “us against them.”

Where religion talks a lot about God, the idea of spirituality is to practice the higher ideals that we associate with God in our daily life. Spirituality is a very personal journey, but the destination is always the same: love. The mass exodus from organized religion in the past few decades points to the desire people have to ask questions instead of being told answers, to doubt dogma without risk of condemnation, and to feel free to be themselves without judgment.

Our planet furnishes Spirit with such a diverse mix of human stories that it’s a shame some people want everyone to be just like them. The human desire to judge is strong, but if we all understood that each of us has our own unique path, wouldn’t Earth be a much better place?

James Van Praagh is the internationally renowned #1 New York Times best-selling author who has worked as the voice of the Spirit World for the past 30 years. He has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live, Dr. Phil, Coast to Coast, and many other programs. He is also the successful creator and producer of CBS’s long-running series The Ghost Whisperer, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Website: www.vanpraagh.com

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