Religion vs Spirituality - How Do They Compare?
Religion: By definition, a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices; the service and worship of God or Supernatural.
Spirituality: Connotes an experience of connection to something larger than you; living everyday life in a reverent and scared manner.
When you think about it, the answer may not come as a shock. It is possible to be spiritual without being religious, but being religious requires being spiritual. Spirituality and religion are often interchangeable; they are both subjective, as well as universal. Although religion has sometimes been viewed as synonymous with Spirituality, this has never been the case.
No matter how firmly one professes and defines his or her spiritual identity, regardless of how many times religion is attributed to a particular brand of self-designation, people inevitably find that spirituality and religion are intrinsically connected, even inseparable. It becomes very easy then, to separate it from its more popular, stereotyped spiritualism, which becomes increasingly… difficult. It is not easy because spirituality and religion are both subjective and individualistic. No one can say for sure what spirituality means for someone else, except the person themselves, because spirituality and religion are a matter of personal experience.
But just how is spirituality different from religion? For some, spirituality and religion are alike but different. Some spiritual people see religion as something static and without intrinsic meaning, while others see it as something that has a greater significance than any amount of conventional belief and ritual. Most people, however, do accept that there is a difference between religion and spirituality, even if they don’t know what the difference is or why it matters. What’s more important, then, is learning how to have faith in a system of beliefs that one is comfortable with and can see having an impact on their lives.
The problem with spirituality, when it comes to religion or spirituality, is that it can easily become an addiction and it can lead to self-deception and eventual estrangement from the divine. In many cases, people become so caught up in the practices of their religion that they fail to realize that there are deeper beliefs holding them back from reaching the goals they’ve set for themselves and others. If they were able to tap into their deeper spirituality, their understanding of who they are would change tremendously. It’s not that they are inherently different from everyone else, but rather that their perspectives are limited by religion.
In order to make meaningful relationships with others, humans need to have a basic understanding of the universe, including their place in it. In order to understand this, people need to have a framework of faith or religion that encompasses their basic beliefs, but at the same time, they need to allow room for the free expression of their personal sense of spirituality. Many religious people believe that their religion is the only true way to know God, but this often leads to exclusivity, which in turn can lead to the stripping away of personal beliefs. When you come at religion from an exclusively religious perspective, you will find that you are limited to following only what you learn from your religion, and you may have some difficulty adjusting to other ways of looking at the world. At the very least, you will experience a certain resistance to change.
On the other hand, when you look at religion from an individual perspective – that is, from the freeriding perspective of an observer who sees both sides of the coin – religion becomes more transparent. There are many paths to follow in life and the ones that seem to be most appealing to each person are those that seem to fit their sense of spirituality. In fact, when you look at religion as a whole – including its various branches and sub-branches – you will see that its religious principles can be applied to just about any situation.
When you go back to the basics, all types of religious movements throughout history show that they have always been based on some form of mysticism, divinity, or even pantheism. If you dig a little deeper, you will discover that every religion has been created for a reason. It all started with an urge to understand things better. Whether you believe in religion or spirituality and choose the one that fits your personality, whether you choose Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, or anything else, the basic underlying principle is the same.
Regardless of what kind of religion you choose, there is only one thing that really matters. That thing is ‘followers’. In fact, you won’t find followers anywhere if there isn’t an inherent need for that religion to prosper. This is the secret behind all religions. Once you understand this simple truth, you can start taking action today to create a more positive and meaningful future for yourself and for your family.