Many people often ask, is spirituality a religion? Well, you might have heard or used the terms spirituality and religion interchangeably. But the reality is they are different. They might not be diametric opposites, but they are different. Today, we will take a look at the difference between spirituality verus religion.
For thousands of years, humanity has pursued the Truth. We look for answers to questions like, Who am I, what do I want, What is my purpose, and what is the meaning of life? Well, both spirituality and religion try to answer these questions.
But they take different approaches.
For example, religion is a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Spirituality, on the other hand, is living every day in a reverent and sacred manner. But that is just a broad definition.
Let’s take a look at spirituality vs religion differences.
What Is The Definition Of The Term?
To start explaining the difference between spirituality and religion, we have to take a look at the definition of both terms.
Religion refers to an institution that has a set of organized practices. It also has a structured belief system shared by members of the institution. The beliefs are often transcendental and passed on from members to converts. Beliefs here are based on either a formally documented creed or established practices.
But in any case, there are professionals within each religion who act in a position of leadership. These leaders represent the formal aspect of the institution and carry out certain rituals.
Religion is a community, a group of religious people sharing the same beliefs. It functions as an extremely supportive social network or religious community and creates practical implications for everyday behavior.
A religious person follows the guidelines set by his/her religion.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is about one’s soul and inner self. Being spiritual involves holding a personal set of beliefs and practices and searching for the purpose of life.
Each person has their own definition of spirituality. That can vary throughout your lifetime. You can adapt your spirituality to individual experiences and self-reflection.
The goal of true spirituality is different than that of religion. In spirituality, your goal is to realize your inherent power to combat life’s challenges and connect with something greater than yourself. Find your inner peace and be content with that.
Unlike religion, spirituality is a universal and personalized experience. Each of us experiences it differently and uniquely. Some describe it as a sacred and transcendent experience. Others as plainly a true sense of liveliness. Some say it is pure gratitude.
And yes, you can belong to a religious group and still be spiritual. Or vice versa.
Spirituality VS Religion – Organization
As we said before, the main difference between spirituality and religion is that one is a specific set of organized beliefs and practices (religion), while the other is more of individual practice (spirituality).
One way to simply explain it is through the game of football. When you play football professionally, there are rules, referees, and other things that guide you through the game. This is religion.
But you can also kick the ball around in a park and enjoy playing. You can have the time of your life. You do not follow all the rules and regulations, but still, get the fulfillment of playing football. This is spirituality.
Religion Is Organized
The hallmark of religion is its organization. Structured, frequently rule-based construct, religion governs the behavior of its members. There are many moral rules, laws, doctrines, specific codes, criteria, and many more you have to follow. All of these made the specific religious belief system.
Spirituality Is Formless
On the other hand, spirituality breaks free from the restrictions and rigid structure. There is no such thing compared to traditional religion. Spirituality recognizes that each individual is on his pathless path of self-discovery. You do not have to follow a set of external rules. You just follow your inner call to spirit.
Some would say spirituality is a rebellious act of going solo and leaving the tribe.
Origins Or Religion And Spirituality
Another key difference between the two terms is their origin. For example, religion is based upon the lives, teachings, and beliefs of a historical or archetypical figure. In Christianity, we have Jesus Christ. Other historical figures include Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Muhammad, and many more.
Religion follows the details of their lives as holy people and implements their life into a set of traditional and written scriptures.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is based upon the practical application of the founder’s teachings. There is no set origin. There is no certain point in time that true spirituality started. Japanese poet Matsuo Basho writes, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought”.
Objective And Subjective Experience
Here is another key difference between traditional religion and spirituality. Let’s talk about the former first.
On the whole, formal religion is an objective experience. The focus is on the external, including eternal rituals, observances, houses of worship (church, mosque, synagogue), and books of scripture.
Spirituality leans toward self-referral. Think of it as an inward journey involving a shift in awareness and not some external activity. Because of this, spirituality is more about inner understanding than outer worship.
Yes, worship is also part of spirituality, but it is all about where the devotion and worship are directed. In this case, to your soul and higher self. The goal here is to achieve spiritual growth.
Exclusive And Inclusive Form
Religion is based on traditional beliefs. Sometimes, they are based upon rigid interpretation of key teachings. That is why religion can create an exclusive worldview that isolates human beings who do not share the same views or interpretations.
For example, religious mentality can sometimes justify the exclusion of minorities or those deemed unworthy by God’s favor.
Spirituality, on the other hand, does not make such a distinction. Spirituality favors an inclusive approach. The teaching recognizes that the pure spirit is a unifying force. No one is left out. We are all part of the universal hologram. Talking from a spiritual perspective, nobody has a monopoly on the truth. Religion doesn’t give such freedom.
Progression Of Beliefs
You will notice that many of the key differences between spirituality versus religion stem from the same thing. One is set on rules, the other is a personal experience.
Speaking of beliefs, religion requires people to be obedient to their religious beliefs. They keep followers fixed to scriptures or what is taught to them by a religious leader. This is why religion discourages people from listening to their own instinct. They teach people to accept what they are told without questioning it. In other words, religion is all about faith.
Spirituality is more of an experience where one learns as he goes throughout life and experiences different things. Spirituality teaches people to constantly listen to their inner voice and use it as a guide through life.
Why Do People Practice Spirituality?
Life is full of ups and downs. There are good times. And then there are bad times. People see spirituality as a great way to seek comfort and peace in their life. You can practice alongside activities like yoga. Spirituality, or meditation, is the ultimate focus on stress relief and release of emotion.
Think of it as a way of gaining perspective. Spirituality recognizes your role in life has a greater value than what you do every day. It is a way to relieve yourself from dependence on material things and understand your life’s greater purpose.