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9. “I don’t follow organised religion."

A saintly person floated forward with a shining halo around his head and when asked what mission he was on, he replied, “I’m starting a spiritual movement.” Following closely behind was the devil, and when quizzed about his intention, he replied “I’ll be helping him to organise it!”
Who can deny the potentiality of pure spirituality being side-lined in the sticky matrix of organised religion? The institution can become about superiority over humility. We may stress the afterlife, but forget about the here-life. Rules and regulations take prominence, sometimes at the expense of individual expression. Meetings over relationships, numbers over faces, holiness over humanity, monologue over dialogue, doctrine over character, appearance over authenticity – the pitfalls are endless! Many people thus resolve to distance themselves from organised religion, opting to pursue spiritual awakening in their own private arena.
Krishna fully endorses the notion of heartfelt spirituality. In Chapter Nine, He emphatically asserts that no matter how simple an external spiritual offering may be, a single leaf, fruit or flower, if it’s offered with sincere devotion and purity of consciousness, it becomes irresistibly attractive. In the very next verse, however, Krishna states: “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O Arjuna, as an offering to Me.” Spirituality is undoubtedly an affair of the heart, but in order to awaken that natural and spontaneous devotion we require a systemised regime of dedication.
If someone wanted to express their heart through music, but never learnt notes and keys, how much would they be able to express? If someone wanted to express their heart through writing, but never took the time to learn spelling and grammar, how much would they be able to express? If someone wanted to express their heart through spirituality, but they never took the time to engage in spiritual practice (sadhana), would there really be any genuine awakening? The regulated practice of spirituality helps us to overcome the ignorance, imperfection and inner blocks that impede the free flowing expression of our innate devotion.
Srila Prabhupada established a house in which the whole world can live. The vision was to give every individual unlimited opportunities, facilities and support to powerfully engage in acts of devotion. The essence is to bring together sincere spiritual seekers so they can inspire and empower each other. After all, those who embark on the journey towards transcendence are brave indeed. They strive for purity in a world of degradation, embrace simplicity amongst rampant materialism, and cultivate selflessness in an atmosphere charged with exploitation. As we swim upstream, we’ll undoubtedly be faced with temptation, doubt, ridicule and moments of weakness. The support of spiritual friends is an indispensable ingredient in spiritual success.
Our individual spiritual lives are like a boat, and the organised institution is like a river. If we ride that water and interact appropriately, it carries us to our destination. If that water hijacks the boat and enters within, however, we drown all the way down. The institution is not the essence, but it is essential. Everyone can experience the benefits of it in their spiritual journey.

“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Bhagavad-Gita 9.34)

References

9.27 – How to connect every aspect of life to the spiritual goal.
9.28 – Spiritual connection frees one from karma.