Religion and Spirituality

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“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Today we’re witnessing a move away from organized religion toward a more personal quest for spiritual enlightenment. It’s common to hear people say that religion in general no longer appeals to them, as they’ve grown weary of being told what they’re supposed to think. This week I was reading a blog written by a Catholic Monsignor who, using the above passage, explained why the road to Hell (the wide gate) is taken by so many. Among the items he lists that make the average human “difficult to save,” he says, “we don’t like to be told what to do.”   

If being told what we must do comes from an edict issued by either the Catholic or Protestant Church authorities, then I would agree with the Monsignor. I do not trust the integrity of my spiritual quest to either source.

The notion of the wide gate leading to destruction is probably a warning from Matthew, not Jesus, that there are consequences to falling away from the early church’s developing doctrine. When you consider the emphasis that mainstream Christianity has placed on sin and the possibility of Hell, you see that fear has always been used as a motivator.

I would argue exactly the opposite from the Monsignor, that the narrow gate is the one that leads to the experience true spiritual enlightenment. Abandoning organized religion is not a prerequisite to a spiritual awakening. But learning to go alone, think alone and seek light alone, as Emilie Cady advised, is the path to a first-hand experience with God.

Some of the most enlightened Christian teachers in history have been condemned and branded as heretics by Catholic and Protestant authorities alike. Their crime? They didn’t like to be told what to do. Though every religion makes God the centerpiece, God is not found in any of them. God is experienced at the center of one’s being, usually in quiet solitude.

If, in your quest for understanding, you find religious trappings helpful and comforting, keep them. But know the narrow gate to enlightenment is the one that usually draws the smallest crowd.   

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