The word religion is not so popular these days; many of us consider ourselves spiritual, not religious. Yet, the meaning of the word religion simply is to hold on to.The spiritual seekers of the olden days held on to the Torah, Christ, or the Buddha. In the olden days, spiritual travelers didn't quite have the faith that they could make the journey Home without someone to look up to.
It turns out, everyone holds on to something, religious or not! It is simply our nature to make sense of the world with our desires, drives and belief sets. In fact, it is this holding on to that gives the world we live in meaning. You can hold on to many things. There are some who need to be considered popular, beautiful, rich, or virile. Spiritual travelers try to step away from the ego drives and hold on to the Spirit instead. Yet, everyone, spiritual or not, will also have some notion of holiness. It may be the sanctity of your family, the meaning of your job or enterprise, your spouse or the community or country you live in. Everyone has something sacred.
Our spiritual community maintains that the way of the Spirit can be experienced. What remains when you have stripped down all your desires. Is it nothingness, is it meaninglessness? Is is at all possible to let go of your desires? We argue that the Spirit can be perceived here and now. And when you perceive Her, all your desires naturally disappear. When you truly love someone, egotistic motives tend to fade into the background. And when you experience Spirit in real life, your natural instinct is to follow Her while the voice in your head becomes silent.
Vivekandanda once shared this story. He was struggling financially after his father died and he ask his guru Sri Ramakrishna for some divine intervention. Sri Ramakrishna responded, "Ask Her yourself!", touched him and he fell in a state of samadhi. But when faced with Durga Maa, Vivekanada found himself unable to ask for anything. Sri Ramakrishna repeated this two more times and each time Vivekananda was dumbfounded. In the end Sri Ramakrishna had to bless Vivekananda to get his family a little divine support, Vivekananda couldn't have asked for it in the bliss of the moment.
So while few of us have the luxury of having a enlightened mystic next to us, all of us can discover Spirit in real life. When you meet Her, all ego drives naturally fade in the sanctity of the moment. Not everyone would call Her divine though, yet subconsciously at least, we all perceive Her at least in some areas of our life. Hold on to what is meaningful to you, and the ego will naturally melt. Religious or not, we are all on a subconscious journey Home.