There was no such thing as Christianity in Jesus’ time. He was not only a Jew but, even more importantly, a mystic Jew, a Kabbalist. He and Mary Magdalene together represented the Kabbalistic “Sacred Marriage”. After his death, the disciples went on to found Christianity, filtering Jesus’ teachings through their own earthly predispositions and worldviews, and redacting the gospels to fit into those worldviews, often motivated by institutional political agendas.
This "spinning" of the teachings included, for example, misinterpreting what Jesus taught as “singleness” (meaning “all is one”) as celibacy, thus rigidly separating the masculine from the feminine, the yin from the yang, and recasting/miscasting Mary as a prostitute.
Their version of the teachings has lasted 2000 years and caused, certainly along with some grace, much suffering in the world, including, for example, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the domination and decimation of indigenous populations. The original intent, long suppressed and confined to the mystical fringes, is only now being rediscovered by the expanding masses of “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR).
A friend called my attention today to a recent message from The Shift Network on the subject of SBNR The article reports that over 20% of the U.S. population considers itself SBNR and goes on to enumerate five distinctions between organized religions and spirituality, which I find quite helpful:
- "Many organized religions represent God as an external entity. Spirituality portrays God as an integral aspect of our humanity.
- "Many organized religions demand that you follow an external set of
rules based on the experiences of others. Spirituality encourages you to
seek your own experiences through inner exploration and discovery.
- "Many organized religions are about the depths of your beliefs. Spirituality is about the depths of your consciousness.
- "Many organized religions preach to us about God. Spirituality encourages us to achieve God consciousness.
- "Many organized religions assert that their method of worship is the only true path to God. Spirituality maintains that all rivers lead to the same ocean. Thus, when conflict arises, religion tends to divide while spirituality unites."
I am by no means a religious scholar, but it seems to me that the reference to "organized religions" here pertains largely to the Abrahamic religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (each of which does have its mystical side - but maybe those aren't "organized"?). Most other religions or spiritual traditions - e.g., Eastern, indigenous - already tend toward the spiritual or mystical side of the above distinctions. Actually, while there are differences between "spirituality" and "mysticism", in my mind one could well replace the word "spirituality" with "mysticism" in the above list.
If this topic calls to you, you might be interested in:
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discoveringthe Woman at the Heart of Christianity, by Cynthia Bourgeault