(navigate back up a level to Writing pages, including 'Spirituality')

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'Spirituality' versus 'Religion'

Q: What is the meaning of life?

A: Alife with meaning.

For the purposes of writing on my website, and perhaps eventually as a book to explore the problem of patriotism-as-idolatry, it should help to clarify a few terms.

I believe it is far more useful and hopefully more widely appealing to talk about 'spirituality' than it is to talk about 'religion'.

For me the word 'spirituality' brings to mind living by spiritual principles, which many healthy*, content, succesful, balanced people practice regularly, perhaps without much thought. (*I tried to avoid the word 'normal').

Here's a short list of spiritual principles which I'm aware of:

Honesty,

Open-mindedness,

Willingnes,

Patience,

Tolerance,

Acceptance,

Forgiveness,

Courage,

Gratitude,

Service,

Humility,

Kindness,

Compassion,

Balance,

Contentment,

Goodwill,

Sharing,

Hope,

Trust,

Faith,

Persistence,

Perseverance...

Anyone who has experience practicing these principles on a regular basis, please email me a story illustrating this practice, using info from the contact page or the writing page, because I need all the help I can get!

Seriously - practicing these principles in all of my affairs is... what brings meaning and purpose to my life. These principles, and witnessing inspiring examples of these principles in action in other people's lives is what helps me sleep at night, and gets me out of bed in the morning.

A spiritual life, as described by these principles, may correlate to a religion. But then again, it may not.

As William James wrote in "Varieties of Religious Experience", (paraphrasing) Saints* have religious experiences** sometimes within an organized religion, sometimes outside of an organized religion, and sometimes in spite of organized religion.

*Saints = people whose lives underwent a remarkable transformation for the better, at least from self-centered to altruistic

**religious experience = religion in the broadest sense of the word, apparently what I call 'spiritual'

Please, do not just tell me. Show me.

While it's impossible to guess my audience for a website, I suspect that the word 'religion' for many readers may imply clanishness, narrowness or intolerance - already the exact opposite of one of those spiritual principles.

Unfortunately it is not too difficult for me to recall examples of where some organized religions qualify for that 'in spite of' category of Varieties of Religious Experience. I'll get to some examples by and by...

However, I did want to start with something positive. Creating ties, finding and emphasizing what we have in common, is more challenging and more rewarding than criticizing and harping on differences.

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(navigate back up a level to Writing pages, including 'Spirituality')