Is Religion the Way to the Truth?
Is religion important to spiritual growth?
For some, religion is a way to have structure that leads to spiritual growth. That exactly what religion is. It is a systematic structure. I always say that if your religion is working for you and is making you a better person then by all means keep doing what you are doing. Most people need this structure because they do not have an understanding of spiritual things. This is not to put anyone down. Only a few enter the great way. This great way is a realization of the hidden spirit within all things.
Everything you see is a symbol of the great spirit of truth. Religion uses symbols, rituals, practices and stories to try to convey this truth. However the problem is that people tend to believe that these stories, symbols, practices and rituals are an end. There is a great statement that the finger that points to the moon is not the moon. The symbols are just that. Symbols. The real understanding lies beyond that books and the rituals. These were just used to help open the mind to that great realization.
Another big problem with religion is that people will become so attached to their beliefs that they actually believe that there way is the only way. This is far from the truth. All religions point to the truth. People become so offended by another's beliefs that they are willing to go as far as kill over it. If they don't another by taking their life they sure kill in their mind.
Religion in itself is not bad. Some religions require a a certain way of chanting, praying, setting up props and so on. These were invented by someone who used them to open their mind to the ultimate understanding. But just because it works for one doesn't mean it will for another. I always encourage anyone to study other religions and try different things. It is very important to "be like a child" and keep an open and eager mind to new ideas and concepts.
I grew up in a Christian environment. We went to a Baptist church every Sunday and Wednesday. Now, I don't claim one religion, I will not label myself. One reason is that dogma attached to the religions and the false judgments people have over religions that differ from others. I will tell you this though. If you believe that your religion is the only Way, then you have nothing to do with the Way yourself.
The root of all religions is unity, love and compassion. If your "version" of your religion (and I say that because people make their religion out to be what they want it to be to suit their own carnal desires) is to create separateness then there is not room for love, unity and compassion and your religion has been made false.
To sum it up, the religion itself is not bad. It's what people have made it into.