Question: How can spirituality escape the confines of religion?

Sri Chinmoy: We know a few religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and so forth. Each religion has its own way of expressing itself with regard to the unlimited One. But unfortunately, the expression itself is limited. Religion is only a house, and nobody can claim that his house has everything. We can buy more furniture and other items, but the length and breadth of the house will always remain the same.

Once we accept the spiritual life, however, our religion becomes our love of God. And when we love God, everything inside us expands. At that time we do not feel that our body is limited to a few feet in height; no, we are seeing the expansion of the body. We are also seeing the expansion of our vital, our mind, our whole being. Our love of God is the continuous expansion of our entire reality.

Love of God is the only true religion, the only religion a true seeker should practise. Is there any religion that will tell us not to love God? But the problem with religion is that it seeks to limit our love of God. Religion will say, “Only if you love God the way I love God are you doing the right thing.” Each religion will say, “Love God, but do it in my way. Only if you come to church, only if you come to the temple, only if you come to the mosque will your love of God be perfect. The other ways are all wrong.”

But love of God is not like that. If I love God, God will tell me, “Why should there only be roses in the religion-garden? There can be other flowers as well.” One person will come and appreciate the rose, and someone else will come and appreciate another flower. So we have to love God in every possible way — through what we say and what we do, through constant self-giving on each and every level of our consciousness. We have to love God in God’s own Way. Then only we will never be trapped in the confines of religion and we will never try to confine anybody.

What we want from religion is joy. Religion is not giving us joy because consciously or unconsciously it is trying to exercise its supremacy. But if we just love God, then we are getting tremendous joy. I am getting joy from loving God and you are getting joy from loving God.

You asked how spirituality can escape from the confines of religion. Escape is not the right word. What is needed is not escape but illumination. And we can illumine religion only by loving God in God’s own Way.