When we tell other people that we consider ourselves spiritual people, they often mistakenly believe that we mean religion – in one form or another. The discussions about spirituality being or not being the same as religion are not new things.
Religion is the organized way to God. Spirituality is also the path to God, but it is not organized. They have a common subject, but their approaches are different. Religion and spirituality instruct that there is more to the universe than meets the eye and that our life is more than life in the physical body.
The main difference between religion and spirituality is that religion presents us with beliefs, dogmas, and intermediaries between God and us. Spirituality is the desire for inner self-improvement and promotes our individual autonomy in defining and connecting with God as it corresponds to our hearts and mind.
Religion vs. Spirituality
Once upon a time, all religions began as a spiritual process. But in their striving for organization, they lost their essence. In a way, Religion is corrupt spirituality. Let’s understand how religion and spiritual practice differs.
1. From Time immemorial Spirituality initiated Religion over time
Spirituality is the true essence and true origin of every religious movement. But sometimes, spirituality in religion fades into the background, and we are left with mostly religious beliefs and rituals.
Gautam Buddha was not a Buddhist; Lord Rama was not a Hindu; they were, in fact, highly realized spiritual people. Both are considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who was spiritual. They had a group of followers who were also greatly moved by their spiritual quest. But as the centuries passed, when groups and their social recognition grew, spirituality slowly became a religion.
There’s now Hinduism, Christianity, Muslims, and many more. Hinduism is also divided into Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and so on. But Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are divine spiritual forms, not religious ones.
2. Religions make you bow but Spirituality sets you free
Religious people are forced to follow a certain ideology and rules, otherwise promising us divine retribution or Karmic punishment. Spirituality helps us follow our hearts and do what we think is right.
It helps us achieve what we consider right in life – without looking back at the sacred books; we do not always agree with it from beginning to end. It allows us to choose for ourselves what to believe in enough to give it divinity.
3. Religion is determined by humans but Spirituality is by God
Religious practice can be anything that a person professes. On the other hand, spirituality is determined by God. Because man determines religion, religion is a manifestation of the human mind. But spiritual coping, by God’s definition, is a manifestation of his nature.
True spiritual belief is what is deep within ourselves. The role of spirituality in your life allows you to determine your way of affecting, accepting, and treating the world and the people around you. It cannot be found in temples or believed in any way.
4. Religion creates Dependency and Spirituality Makes You Independent
Adherents of most religions believe that you are truly worthy of happiness and good luck only if you actively support it and regularly participate in all the necessary rituals. Spirituality shows us all that we don’t have to rely on or depend on anything to be happy.
The roots of happiness always grow from ourselves, and it depends only on us whether it will turn green or fade. Remember, we are always in the place and time that allows us to be happy. We do not need to attend certain activities or events for this. Divinity is in each of us. And we deserve it.
5. Religion scares you of punishment whereas Spirituality reminds you of karma
Religion tells us that if we do not obey a specific set of rules, after death somewhere there, in another world, such as hell or Patala Lok, we will be punished for this.
Spirituality, on the other hand, helps us understand that every deed we do has its own consequences and can ultimately become our blessing or punishment – for which we do not need to wait for divine judgment. The consequences of our actions depend only on the fundamental laws of this universe, whether we believe in them or not.
6. Religion claims truth but Spirituality searches for the truth
There are no religions that are not filled with rigid, and every religion has its established rules and principles that say how and what you must believe. True spirituality allows you to search for your own truth, a path known only to you, and understand it in a way that only you can.
It motivates us to look inside ourselves and, plunge into the depths of our own souls, once and for all, understands that the truth is called truth because it is the same for each of us. But it also allows us to believe in our own truth – in the truth that we see through the prism of our hearts.
7. Spiritual path has no rule but Religion has sets of Obligations
Spiritual seekers continue to look for the true path without being obligated to follow a set of guidelines. But the religious practices are of formal structure. The rules are formulated for devotional practices such as worshiping, religious fastings, frequent prayers, and festivals. The formal religion even segregates dates, days, and months for specific deities and actions.
The realm of spirituality is of no specific guidelines. It’s your process, your pace, your approach, and your sets of actions. Your personal beliefs act as your spiritual teacher.
List of Differences: Religion vs. Spirituality
|Religion asks you to believe.
|Spirituality asks you to seek.
|Religion speaks of sin and hell.
|Spirituality speaks of reason.
|Religion wants to comfort you.
|Spirituality wants to liberate.
|Religion is external.
|Spirituality is internal.
|Religion wants to convert you.
|Spirituality wants to inspire you.
|Religion says it’s the only way.
|Spirituality says that each person has their own path.
|Religion is an institution.
|Spirituality is a journey.
The structure of Religion can move along with elements of spirituality. Many people find spirituality in their religion, and for them, these differences may not be so relevant since, for them, these two things are combined. But things are different for those interested in pure spirituality, regardless of religious affiliation. The difference between spirituality and religion is not what you believe but how you live and feel about it.