“We need to distinguish between two crucial terms: religion and spirituality. The word religion has many meanings; in particular it implies a concern with the sacred and supreme values of life. The term spirituality, on the other hand, refers to direct experience of the sacred. Spiritual practices are those that help us experience the sacred for ourselves.
For thousands of years wise men and women from all traditions have sung the praises of the many benefits that flow into the lives of practitioners as they progress along the spiritual path.
Gradually, the heart begins to open, fear and anger melt, greed and jealousy dwindle, happiness and joy grow, love flowers, peace replaces agitation, concern for others blossoms, wisdom matures, and both psychological and physical health improve. Virtually all aspects of our lives are touched in some way.
Within ourselves we find our deepest self, our true Self, and recognise that we are not only more than we imagined but more than we can imagine. We see that we are a creation of the sacred, intimately and eternally linked to the sacred, forever graced and embraced by the sacred. This is the greatest of all discoveries, the secret of all secrets, the priceless gift that is both the source and the goal of the world’s religions…
These traditions suggest that the [primary cause of human suffering] lies in our false sense of identity. They claim that we are separated from the sacred and thereby unaware of our true nature. This separation is described in various ways. In Judaism and Christianity it is called “the fall.” In Hinduism and Buddhism it is specifically a fall into the semiconscious state of maya, while in Taoism it is the apparent deviation from the Tao.
But whatever it is called the underlying message is the same: in falling into illusion we have forgotten our boundless spiritual nature. Consequently, we underestimate ourselves terribly, believing we are merely little egos isolated in our fragile bodies, and that we are fundamentally deficient. How could we feel otherwise when we have constricted ourselves so terribly and torn ourselves away from our Source?”
~Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart & Mind