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Religiosity and spirituality

Naturalized Buddhism for westerners can encourage a form of bad conscience: it can seem to us that adhering to Buddhism restrictedly to the practices considered to be secular, we can be spiritual without being religious, whereas without realizing we're moved by typically religious drives.
Religioso e spirituale

Naturalized Buddhism for westerners can encourage a form of bad conscience: it can seem to us that adhering to Buddhism restrictedly to the practices considered to be secular, we can be spiritual without being religious, whereas without realizing we're moved by typically religious drives.

These drives or forces include the desire to partake in a community organized around a sense of sacred, or the desire to find meaning transcending the individual or in the experience of pain, the desire to experience deep and transformative states of contemplation.

The actions people may undertake in order to fulfill such desires, like practicing meditation or leaving for a contemplative retreat, are themselves religious activities. Westerners prefer the term spiritual because they need to emphasize the transformative experiences for the individual in favor of the secular, institutional elements of a religious tradition.

Protestantism is strongly related to the all too familiar idea that authentic spirituality is to be reached within private experience and distinct from secular religion, with its institutions and hierarchies. This idea of intimacy of the spiritual is extremely influential on how the West approaches meditation today, at times losing track of central facets of Buddhist traditions, privatizing contemplative practice instead of making them bloom in mettā or universal loving kindness.

Religion is a term created by European scholars; it is not a term native to the languages of pre-modern Buddhism in Asia.
Religions do not only consist of dogmatic beliefs and doctrines but also of cultural and social practices that produce meaning, among which we can include rituals, contemplative practices, communities, texts, traditions and ways to infuse meaning to birth, ageing, illness, trauma, death and extra-ordinary states of consciousness.

Religions bring into play a sense of transcendence, a sensibility for that which exceeds ordinary experience.

Bibliography:
C. Schelin, 2021, What the spiritual but not religious have in common with radical protestants of 500 years ago, The Conversation.

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