728 - On religiosity and spirituality

N. Lygeros
Translated from French by Philippe Alsina and Patrice Deloche

Through Dostoïevski’s and also Tolstoï’s work, it is not difficult to discern the difference that exists between religiosity and spirituality. Certainly, the Orthodox religion, particularly in its Russian form, mixes both of these conceptions without embarrassment. Nevertheless, it is clear that it does not confuse them. Even if the first is an integral part of tradition, it is essentially perceived in a ritual way without necessarily associating the second with it. As for the latter, via hermits it can very well evolve out of the classic ecclesiastical framework. Moreover, one seems acquired as much as the other seems innate, one seems artificial and subjective as much as the other seems natural and objective. Thus although they apparently obey the same principle, they are not even seen as complementary. Because one can evolve only within a dogmatism while the other cannot bear this yoke. That is why in the approach of these authors in particular but also of others, religiosity and spirituality are not associated in a canonical way. As if the authors were conscious of their deep difference about ethics. Religiosity obey necessarily rules and laws that encode a religious ethics, whereas spirituality keep creating its ethics to the detriment of every consensual convention. And via this absence of predetermined nomology, spirituality acquires a universality that religiosity cannot possess. Besides, the power necessary to a dominant religion can only inexorably distort its religious nature regarding spirituality. Whereas the latter by refusing any access to power takes place naturally in a different context. Ideal but not idealized, spirituality only cares about the essential without attaching importance to the superfluous, because it is accountable to nobody about its evolution. Without any direct link to the everyday reality, it does not feel the need to transform the external world. Without conquests, lacking in everything, it is the center of every idealized religion because it stands on a supra-religious ethics. Seen as inaccessible by the majority, it is the work of only a minority without implying an intellectual containment because it represents an essentially open structure. Its necessity is not ontological but teleological. Its aims are not logical in the common meaning of the term. It does not aspire to theology but it just is, and via its existence resist the canonization inherent in the massification process. It does not cultivate its difference because this difference is qualitative and can be seen as one of its basic components. Thus it is the sacred without being sanctified. It is like Christ or Buddha neither saint nor brahma. Without master it does not have a disciple. Whereas religiosity is born from discipline. The radically different conceptions of religiosity and spirituality show the boundaries of religions but also their gateways and especially the same ethical horizon, which can be only of a noetic order.