In the understanding of spirituality or of religion (which I consider as spirituality practiced as discipline), it is important to have the priorities set straight.
While we can start off with accounts of God and heavens, experience and common-sense point to the fact that this may not be a good starting place for learning to live a spiritual life.
Texts like the Gītā also advocate this point of view and prescribe several preliminary steps before introducing one to views on God or liberation.
The first requirement appears to be learning to see the real self beneath the separate person-hood imposed by the mind-body-senses. Without a clear vision of the self that stands beyond the false ego and remains beyond conceptual grasp, it is hard to see one’s way in one’s discipline. The inner light needs to shine in order to brighten one’s way.
A life with inner radiance, often called enlightenment, is a sure way of dispelling the dark agencies of our conditioned responses.
This also makes sense since it is futile to reach out for tall concepts without knowing oneself. Let us ask ourselves the question: Why do we need to know God? If the answer is simply, I was raised that way, Everyone else in my community is like that or I feel my life would be better with God, we are probably dealing with the reasons at the level of the false ego which can fall apart at a later point. It is very easy to see that there are those who do not share our similar faith and yet live excellent lives. We notice that there are those within and outside our community who have different religious persuasions or even none. So, these are not good reasons at all which explains why some people develop a sense of trauma after some time, when encountering popular religions.
No religious system can be useful without letting its followers discover their own inner light. Imposition of religion for the sake of promoting organizational strength is the laziest way to destroy spirituality. Selling religion with dubious reasons, magic or false promises erodes credibility in the long run. Such attempts promote institution at the price of the individual.
True strength of religion lies in its ability to frankly acknowledge the real purpose of its customs instead of appealing to some archaic divine authority. True strength lies in its ability to let individuals discover the motivation for a religious life within themselves, from knowing their true essence.
The maxim Know Thyself (γνῶθι σεαυτόν) is of foremost importance in spiritual life.