Each one of us walks a path. Our path determines who we are and what we will become. This path is shaped by our choices and by fate.
A path is a means of getting from here to there. In our spiritual lives we walk a path which can lead us to our spiritual goal -- whatever that may be. We may be walking the road to heaven, or to Nirvana. We may be searching for completion, or simply looking for meaning in our lives. Whatever it may be, our spiritual path can lead us there, if we will but let it.
The road to Spirituality can be travelled in a number of ways. We create religions as vehicles to help is travel it. Religions are methods we use to help us reach or spiritual goals. As they are created and shaped by people, religions offer spiritual tools based on a particular mind-set, or point of view.
The danger in religion is focusing on the vehicle, rather than the road; focusing on the religion, rather than the spiritual goal. This is akin to a person who has a car he is very proud of. He invites friends over to look at his new car. He revs the motor and turns on the radio. But his car never leaves the driveway! He focuses on the car, but forgets the road entirely. He will never get to work. He misses the point of the vehicle entirely.
Religions contain tools we can use to reach our spiritual goals. These come in two forms: personal and community processes -- or Inner and Outer processes. Inner processes focus on the individual. And Outer processes focus on the community.
Inner processes focus on personal spiritual development and interaction. These include meditation and prayer, among others. Through these processes the individual has a very personal spiritual experience which can have the effect of shaping his/her spiritual growth. These processes work spirituality on the individual level.
Outer processes include worship services and other community rituals. These are the processes where the individual "gives back". These processes work on the community level.
Inner and Outer processes are like the breathing process: we take in and we give back, just as we breathe in and back out. On a spiritual path we first experience our own spirituality and then we share it with others. That is, we connect with the Sacred and then we help others to connect with it, also.