Difference between religion and spirituality
Religion vs spirituality:
Religion and spirituality are not merely means of finding salvation after one’s death, they offer everyday solace, making one understand the many ways of life. And by doing so, religion and spirituality help strengthen the will of human beings to face the challenges that they are forced to face on everyday basis. And yet, however much religion and spirituality may cross paths with one another, there are many differences between the two which in turn defines what each of them stand for.
What is religion?
A religion can be defined as a method of thought or a philosophy that has the intention of giving meaning to the human existence by engaging them in communion with a higher power through stories, rituals, and beliefs. A religion generally allows freedom of thought to its followers and it is an open community which has been established and has been accepted for a long period of time. A religion is often supported by the state. One is often born belonging to a religion while others, after extensive studying and researching, convert to a certain religion out of their own free will.
What is spirituality?
Spirituality pertains to the pure essence or the soul of a human being and often refers to ways in which one can enrich this inner essence. Working on one’s spirituality is said to enhance the inherent nature of a human being and thus make him or her grow inwardly. Spirituality is often related with meditation, chanting, contemplation and other such reflective methods.
What is the difference between spirituality and religion?
Religion and spirituality are most definitely bound with one another. And yet, while a religious person is a spiritual person, a spiritual person may not necessarily be a religious person. That is most definitely where the differences commence.
Religion is a theory that is seen to be more approachable by the people whereas spirituality remains quite abstract. The reason for this is that while religion has a set of core values, a story outline or a basic moral code, one does not see such an aspect in spirituality. Also, religion often has symbols, idols of representations of a God that is worshipped and yet, spirituality is not represented by such symbols.
Each religion has a set of rituals that are commonly followed by every individual belonging to that religion. Thereby, spirituality does not have such fixed rituals. However, people have established certain means such as meditation, chanting and the like as means of attaining spirituality and yet unlike in a religion, they are not preset or deemed as customary to be followed. Therefore, a religion is very easily defined by the rituals that it has set. Spirituality on the other hand, cannot be defined by such rituals.
Religion deals with the teachings of a religious leader who has preached about the good and the bad, what one should and should not do in order to live a good life, all of which varies from one religion to another. It is this leader who is entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the people towards salvation, nirvana or to paradise. However, spirituality concentrates more on the inner cultivation of an individual. By doing so, it is believed that an individual can attain a higher plain of being which is referred to as enlightenment. Often times there are no religious leaders in spirituality. In spirituality, one controls oneself and he or she alone is responsible for his or her own deeds. Therefore, it is the individual himself who is capable of finding salvation.
A religion often has a community of believers and it brings a large society together by common customs, ritual and beliefs. They are seen to be helping each other by way of providing community services, giving alms and such benevolent deeds. However, spirituality is more of an individual practice. It is rather secluded and while there may be small communities of common spiritual beliefs, these groups are significantly smaller than those of other religions.