Religion does not = spirituality. Religion is when individuals hand over their spiritual development to gurus and priests and hierarchy rather than basing their spiritual development on personal experience.
I have to disagree with your portrayal of religion. One can turn to clergy for spiritual guidance and also base one's spiritual development on personal experience.
What I'm referring to is religion as a social institution. In this regard, religion has very little to do with spirituality. And to imply that man has outgrown spiritual needs is absurd, so I hope I don't make that implication. Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say that man's spiritual needs have outgrown religion?
I disagree that religion, as a social institution, has very little to do with spirituality. A big part of spirituality for most people is communal practice. This is true in every faith tradition, and true in many purely spiritual traditions (traditions without an organized clergy, without organized institutions). Spirituality is not just a personal issue, but also very social. Even if your spiritual life takes place completely behind closed doors, that spiritual life has immense social importance because you exist within society. Also, the social nature of religion and spirituality plays a large role in the evolution of religion and spirituality; through social interaction ideas are exchanged and developed.
But the groundwork doesn't change. You're still always using the same launching point, so to speak.
I'm not sure what you mean. Could you elaborate?
Again, my view of religion is very detached from the spiritual needs of man. Religion does not change to address the spiritual needs of man, it changes to address its own structural and hierarchical needs.
Sometimes religion does change to address it's own structural needs and according to political pressure, but this is most certainly not the only way religion changes.
Religion does change to address the spiritual needs of man: as examples, you could look at the Buddha's reformations of Hinduism, you could look at the emergence of the Christian faith, and also the emergence of Islam among the Arabs. Each of these cases are examples of religion changing in order to meet the evolving spiritual needs of an evolving society.
Historically speaking, I agree. But one of the tenants of a religion surviving is that it has followers that subscribe to it and only it. What I'm referring to is not the religion itself but its followers--in that they are encouraged to profess their belief to that religion and tag themselves as such, to the exclusion of other systems of belief. This is not the mindset of a spiritually healthy person. Does that make sense?
Yes, I see what you are saying, and in some cases you are right, but by ignoring the cases in which you are wrong I think you misrepresent the matter.
A religion does not need to demand that it's followers subscribe to only that one religion in order for said religion to survive. Thicht Nhat Hanh tells a story in his book Living Buddha, Living Christ
about a time he took communion with some Catholic friends. A Buddhist practicing a distinctly Christian practice. Examples abound. Even in dogma, Buddhism is pretty clear that the individual must find out for themselves and not take anyone's word, even the Buddha's. Islam is very similar in this regard; Muhammad learned religion from Jews. Also, we must consider traditions like the Baha'i and Unitarians who also make a point to stress that spiritual seekers should not limit their search to one single tradition, that all traditions have great spiritual value worth investigating.
I agree that it is unhealthy for a spiritual seeker to exclude teaching because the teaching comes from another tradition. But this is not characteristic of all religion. In fact, it seems characteristic of at least some faiths to promote investigation into other traditions.
I don't understand why anyone would subscribe to one certain belief system of they weren't convinced that it was the truth. To proclaim, "I am _________" is an absolutism that seems to imply some sort of arrival.
Because, perhaps, X tradition has been extremely important to them. To say "I am a Christian" is not the same thing as saying "I am a perfect Christian" nor is the statement tantamount to saying "I know what it is to be a perfect Christian." People use labels in different ways, some in an absolute sense that is, I think we both agree, spiritualy unhealthy. But the use of a label doesn't have to be exclusive - it might just be a way to say 'this tradition is the one I tend to gravitate towards, the one that makes most sense to me'.
The only arrival that is necessarily implied when someone says "I am an X" is that they have arrived at a tradition which really speaks to them.
Like I said above, when you are a part of a certain religion, you are excluding other religions from your identity. That exclusivity is not necessary and only breeds tunnel vision instead of well-roundedness.
I think this often occurs, but I do not think this is always the case. The examples above should be enough to make the point.
I really appreciate your comments as they forced me to think deeper about my own. Any replies you have to the above would be much appreciated.
Hey, thanks for the conversation. I only come back because I enjoy the replies, and I have certainly enjoyed yours so far. Thanks.