White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Religion and Spirituality: Unity in Difference

Religious Institution and Spiritual Presence — seemingly complementary modalities. Not necessarily so as history records. The spiritual traditions of religious institutions are often times held in grave suspicion because spiritual traditions tend to free the individual from the constraints of the institution. The person is free to know. The person no longer has to be told how to know God and what to know about God. The institution looses control and hence its hold and power over the minds of its adherents. Christianity has harassed its mystics; Islam, the Sufis; and Judaism, the Kaballists. The Buddhist institutions pay the Zen Buddhists respectful no attention. And Hinduism? Sometimes it is best to say little if anything in this regard given the inherent nature of the Hindu world-view.

Very soon after the death of the founder, a religious movement looses its spirituality as it further institutionalizes itself. Spirituality takes a back burner and recedes and comes forth throughout its history. Spiritually oriented individuals have very little difficulty speaking with one another as they share the same experience. They speak the same language. The words they use to discribe this undescribable experience may differ due to culture, time, place and other circumstances, yet the acknowledgement and acceptance is the same.

Religiously oriented individuals have often times grave difficulty speaking with one another as each comes from an albeit unconscious perspective: my way is the right way, if not the only way, in spite of what the documentation stating otherwise may say. The religiously oriented vie for power, status, prestige and control from an arrogant and patronizing position of authoritarian, dictatorial, patriarchal, albeit well-meaning, attitudinal predisposition. The spiritually oriented suggest that we awaken to who we actually are and take responsibility for this actuality and simply, as the Christian tradition phrases it, simply love God and neighbor in our enjoyment of the Merry Dance of Life!

We offer the following table as a general overview of the differences between religion and spirituality. We conclude this presentation with a Sutra from Chan (Zen) Buddhism written in the 8th Century CE.

May many blessings of peace and prosperity be to you and yours now and forevermore. Peace and Joy!

White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Religion Elements Controls Spirituality Practice Experience

Thervada D D S G

by whatever name,

We are:
  • Presence
    with Awareness
  • Peace
    with Compassion
  • Ease
    with Comfort
  • Acceptance
    with Appreciation
  • Simpilicity
    with Enjoyment
Buddhism Mahayana o o u u Zen Buddhism Zazen

Vajrayana g c f i

Catholic m t f l

Christianity Protestant a r e t PX "Mystics" Contemplative Prayer

Quasi-Protestant *** i r ***

Shakti S n i F

Hinduism Shivites c e n e Yogis Yoga

Vishnu r *** g a

Shiah i R *** r

p i *** *** Sufis Zikhir

Sunnis t t S B

Conservative u u h l

Judaism Reformed r a a a Kabalists Contemplation

Orthodox e l m m

*** *** e e


Can Tong Qi
by Shitou Xiqian (Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien (709-788)
Source of second main line of Chinese Zen during
the Tang period, in direct line of succession to
Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch.

The mind of the great sage of India is intimately communicated between east and west. People's faculties may be keen or dull but in the path there are no southern or northern ancestors. The spiritual source shines clearly in the light. The branching streams flow in the darkness.

Grasping things is basically delusion. Merging with principle is still not enlightenment. Each sense and every field interact and do not interact. When interacting they also merge, otherwise, they remain in their own states. Forms are basically different in material and appearance. Sounds are fundamentally different in pleasant or harsh quality. Darkness is a word for merging upper and lower. Light is an expression for distinguishing pure and defiled.

The four gross elements return to their own natures like a baby taking to its mother. Fire heats. Wind moves. Water wets. Earth is solid. Eye and form, ear and sound, nose and smell, tongue and taste. Thus, in all things the leaves spread from the root. The whole process must return to the source.

Noble and base are only manners of speaking right. In light there is darkness, but don't confront it as darkness. Right in darkness there is light, but don't see it as light. Light and dark are relative to one another--like forward and backward steps. All things have their function. It is a matter of use in the appropriate situation.

Phenomena exist like box and cover. Joining principle accords like arrow points meeting. Hearing the words you should understand the source. Don't make up standards on your own. If you don't understand the path as it meets your eyes, how can you know the way? As you walk, progress is not a matter of far or near. But if you are confused, mountains and rivers block the way. I humbly say to those who study the mystery, don't waste time.

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