Religion is for people trying to stay out of hell; spirituality is for those who have been there
By John M. Schluep
I have heard this logic spoken several times when I am describing the healing model of Warriors’ Journey Home. I get the implication that ‘religion’ (as we know it) misses that which is essentially spiritual. Many veterans have found their personal religious faith to be a benefit, while others have abandoned their religion because they believe religion abandoned them when the needed it most.
I am not going to get drawn into a quagmire of debate about religion being helpful or harmful. I will only give my opinion. I understand the quote by Teilhard de Chardin; “I am not a human being having a spiritual experience; I am a spiritual being having a human experience.” I am a soul; an embodied soul and I am in The Soul. So, for argument’s sake, I am a human and I am spiritual.
The word ‘religion’ comes from the word that means ‘connection’; therefore, any legitimate religion ought to be connecting us to God, The Great Spirit, Yahweh, Allah, Higher Power, Christ – whatever term we use for ‘God’ there is only one known by different names. Secondly, legitimate religion ought to connect us to one another. A religious practice or doctrine that separates us from one another is failing in the connecting aspect. For our purposes in Warriors’ Journey Home, war is the separating action; separating us from one another and from our own soul. People who claim to be religious are custodians of the rituals and sacramental practices that are intended to bring people into a connection. My teachers have instructed that we do not own the practices or rituals, they were given by The Creator, through us, to the world. Our task then is to teach and hold with a reverence that which is sacred. Third, legitimate religion connects us to all creation, all creatures, all time (past, present, future).
Warriors’ Journey Home uses ritual with reverence and sacred intention. Most are an adaptation of other practices that ‘speak’ to us as we enter sacred space, used only after we have learned the history and sacredness of the practice. Consequently, our practices are an integration of; Christian, Native American Indian, Celtic, Hindu, and Buddhist practices.
I grew up as a Christian and over the course of my life, I have found that my childhood faith was too small to experience adequately the spiritual depth I have found in; Church, Sweat Lodge, Pagoda, Temple and/or Mosque. I have discovered the warrior’s spirit requires a universal understanding of connection in order to feel complete.
Christians celebrate Christmas and Jews celebrate Hanukkah – both celebrate light coming into the darkness, it is no coincidence that these remembrances take place during the winter solstice – the longest period of darkness as the earth tilts away from the day star sun; then begins to tilt back. (At least for those who live in the northern hemisphere). It was celebrated recognized by pagans and adopted by monotheistic religion.
So, maybe this year we may begin to ‘see’ our unity, not our division and find healing.
John Schluep ~ Founder of WJH