Be Spiritual, Not Religious : Spiritual notes from ISKCON

“Be spiritual not religious”, it is a spiritual quote and the notes from ISKCON for all the devotees of God. Spirit is undying (eternal), internal and God’s fingerprint. Religion is temporary, external and man’s concoction. The Vedas teach “Sanatan Dharma” which eclipses religion and can restore the eternal soul to its pure original condition.

The impersonalists have come up with yet another catchy formula to bolster up their own radically independent concepts of what “Spirituality” consists of. The latest euphemism for promoting ones’ own hybrid version of “Do It Yourself Religion” is to declare yourself “Spiritual; NOT Religious.”

If you punch this three words string into your favorite search engine you will discover a plethora of commentary and videos on this new-age mantra. There you will find several serious attempts to explain just exactly what it means when someone says they are “Spiritual; Not Religious.”

One of the most common themes in those explanations is that “Spiritual” is concerned with the spirit, (Which is Cool,) while “Religious” implies a reference to a boring, dogmatic, ritualistically entrenched church. (This assertion also implies that the Church has nothing to do with spirit… which is Un-Cool!)

There are various ways people justify their independent concepts of what consists of a transcendent lifestyle. To simply declare oneself “Spiritual”; Not Religious” has become one of the most popular ways to do that. What makes all this hyperbole so attractive is that virtually all these explanations share the common fact that they remove the individual out of any peer accountability or commitment to a structured form of discipline. In this way even the word “Spiritually” becomes perverted to fit into the idea that “I Am Perfect & Divine Just the Way I am” and the “It’s all about me” mentality.

Hard core Mayavadis who promote this line of thinking are starting to appear all over the Western world. They may follow their own made up routines and dub them as spiritual, but there is usually little or no connection to what the Vedas recommend as spiritually beneficial. “Spiritualists” might engage in any combination of: Lighting ceremonial candles; positioning crystals; practicing some type of daily physical stretching; burning sage; or ritualistically focus on some aspect of ones anatomy such as the breath; the third eye; the heartbeat; or the resurgence of one’s own ever erupting thoughts. But what is the purpose behind these made-up cherished rituals?
It is not uncommon to find that the do it yourself spiritualists will often elevate the consumption of wine, tobacco, hallucinogenics, sex, and even anger, rage, sloth or greed into what they declare are legitimate rituals for enhancing one’s own spiritual evolution. These “Spiritualists” feel they are above the fact that virtually all bona-fide scriptures, and the behavior and comments of respective sages from all traditions, clearly eschew these traits as potentially lethal to the effort of an aspiring transcendentalist. Those who are only able to fanaticize about how spiritual their beer, cigarettes and other personal foibles are will naturally shun institutions who challenge the foolishness of their own ill formed conclusions.

In extreme cases the “Spiritual but not Religious” folks will even dismisses any form of yoga, meditation, sadhana, or sacred scripture as completely irrelevant to their spiritual development. Those folks insist that all one needs to do is just “Be”. They are the ones who love to remind us that we are referred to as Human “Beings,” not Human “Doings.” Very cute. Isn’t it? The prevalence of this little ditty is yet another way the less serious student will justify their own spiritual immaturity.

The idea of being “Spiritual but NOT Religious” is as absurd as claiming one is:

Perfect but NOT Practiced:

Fit but NOT Exercised;

Healthy but NOT Well Fed;

Wise but NOT Learned;

Stable but NOT Reliable;

Clean but NOT Well Groomed;

Responsible but NOT Law Abiding;

Trustworthy but NOT Honest;

Talented but NOT Accomplished;

In each of these cases the accolades of the first term are sought without following the process required by the second term to actually achieve them. A person can declare themselves any way the wish, but no matter how “Respectable” one declares themselves to be, if they are “…NOT well Mannered” they are simply deluding themselves.
The point is that if one is unwilling to voluntarily accept the structure of good training and discipline, then it is ridiculous to expect that one will automatically become a respected in any discipline regardless of if they aspire to be an athlete, musician, scientist, craftsman, or “Spiritualist” etc.
Training and discipline from a senior mentor is so essential in regards to everything we do that even Lord Krishna, Lord Ramachandra, and Lord Chaitanya all attended spiritual training in the school of their own spiritual master known as the gurukula. Krishna specifically states in the Gita that He sets this standard Himself, very intentionally, so everyone will follow his example:

yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate

“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (BG 3. 21)

So the bottom line is we can prance around and tell everyone how we are aspiring to “Be Spiritual” without “Doing Religion” but the only people who will respect these type of cute play on words are the less discretionary folks who stand for nothing and are willing to accept anything. They are the same people who think “Non-Judgment is a symptom of spiritual maturity or that surrender means to the “NOW!” Both of these concepts are more myths promoted by the New age movement specifically designed to rationalize why they need not engage their own God given intelligence to seek out and surrender to a properly trained guru who is actually capable of dispelling the darkness of ignorance with the torchlight of flawless Vedic knowledge.

For more spiritual quotes, visit the official page of Hare Krishna Movement, Hyderabad.

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  1. Doosri Radha says:

    ISKCON is a social group only with an egoistic approach to Lord Krushna. HARI BOL! If one is not religious, God will not allow him to become spiritual. As a child is born, he becomes religious by indoctrination of parents, family members and society at large. As he grows up, his behavioural part is always impacted by this religion. If he acts against the religion, he commits a sin. If he does a good act prescribed by the religion, he earns a plus point(punya). The totality of sin and good deeds are noted by my Husband, Lord Krushna(God, Brahma, Paramatma) and He decides about his future in the shape of punishment and reward and allots a rebirth in a particular type of body. To come out of this bondage of sin and good work(punya), one needs to become spiritual. This happens when a religious person, after learning about God from his religion, prays to God to make him spiritual. Then, if God is pleased with his religious deeds in this life and the past lives, decides if he is to be given spiritualism or not. HARI BOL! If any one thinks that he became spiritual by his own strength, without God’s blessings, he is mistaken. Therefore, ISKCON should not confuse people in general and devotees in particular, by making a discriminating difference between religion and spiritualism. Mind you, Sanatana Dharma is a religion and it has been created by my Huband, Lord Krushna and it is He who upholds it and protects it also all the time(‘twam avyaya shashwata dharma gopta, sanatanah twam purusho mato me!). ISKCON performs mainly rituals(karma kanda); it does not and cannot practise spiritualism. So, God-realisation is not possible. One has to practise spiritualism in isolation to be eligible to get my Husband’s blessings for God-realisation. Even two persons together spoil the efforts. Two persons make a crowd, and three or more make it a village, it is said about spiritual practice(sadhana). HARI BOL! May my Husband, my Handsome One, my Jivanasarvaswa bless you all! What I do, is actually done by Him and whatever I say, is said by Him. So, do not feel bad about whatever I said for your individual good. HARI BOL!!!