Many a times religion and spirituality is used interchangeably. But there are actually a lot of difference between religion and spirituality. A religious person might be spiritual and a spiritual person can be religious too. Most of the religions existing now has been started by a spiritual leader. The intention of these spiritual leaders were to guide the people in the path of spirituality. But over the time these leaders came to be worshiped as god and the guidelines were manipulated as rigid rituals and rules of religions. If we try to understand religions in depth and follow the guidelines set by ancient leaders, we realize that all religions have same notions and all leads to the ultimate truth -spirituality. Following the religious rituals blindly without understanding the core concepts and trying to prove the superiority of one’s own religion ,leads to issues like communal riots and disharmony with other religious followers.In this article let’s try to analyse and understand the major difference between religion and spirituality.
Difference Between Religion and Spirituality
- There are many religions but only one spirituality
Numerous religions are practiced by people whole over the world like Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc… But there is only one spirituality. Religion has given various names to God like Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Buddha etc… and preaches that the god resides in churches, temples or mosques. Spirituality teaches that god resides within us and guides us in finding god within ourselves.
- Religion is set of rules and spirituality is liberation from rules
As per religion there are a set of rules and rituals. We are taught from a younger age to follow these rules else god will be angry with us and we will be punished. Spirituality teaches us to analyse and find out what is right and wrong. It seeks for inner peace, which we get by doing what we feel is right. In short religion makes us fearful and spirituality teaches us to be brave and to follow our mind.
- Spirituality creates harmony whereas religion causes communal clashes.
No religion is wrong but the blind followers of the religion often fight with the different religious followers siting different reasons. They always are in the race to show that their religion is more superior and correct. Spirituality raises us above all these petty issues and guides us to be in peace with ourselves and with everything around us.
- Spirituality is self-discovery whereas religion is already defined
Religion has a set of guidelines following which they believe they achieve salvation. These guidelines are set by someone else and often is blindly followed by people. They neither understand the meaning nor purpose and have no right to question them. Whereas spirituality is path of self-discovery. One has to find out on his own, the purpose of his life and how he wants to lead his life. Spirituality believes in karma and says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
- Religion lives in past and future whereas spirituality believes in present
Religion believes in previous birth and scares us of rebirth. Whatever is happening in this life is considered to be the ill or good effects of previous birth. It preaches us to lead a religious life frightening us of future birth. Spirituality on the other hand believes only in present. It preaches us to lead a peaceful life by following our mind.
Having defined the major difference between the religion and spirituality, lets now try to answer what is Spirituality?As per Christina Puchalski, MD, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, “spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connection to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.” The definition of spirituality actually varies from person to person . Let me try to explain this in layman terms: If we ask few people what is a tasty food? We will get totally different answers. Some might say pasta, few might say sushi and still others would answer fruits. All the answers are correct as tasty food is nothing but any food that appeals to your tongue. In the same way Spirituality is the food for mind, something that makes you happy, peaceful and lets us live in harmony with people and nature. But this food varies from one person to another,hence, the definition also varies.