In this article, I wish to clear the concepts of Religion and Spirituality. I want to emphasize on the difference between religion & spirituality. My only intention is to direct you from religion to spirituality. For achieving this, you must know the difference between being religious, being spiritual. My humble advice to you is to choose being spiritual.
It is in the nature of human intelligence that he seeks to know if he does not know something. The basis of Spirituality is a realization that I do not know. But when you say you are religious you refer to yourself as a believer. Everything you do not know, you will say, I will make it up. So making it up is different for different persons. Someone will read the scriptures; someone will go to authorities to find the truth. In the Spiritual process, truth is only authority for you. Belief & Spiritual process cannot go together. The spiritual process is a constant inquiry.
The dictionary meaning below can give us a better idea of what is meant by “religion”.
“All concepts related to the belief in god (s) and goddess (s), as well as other spiritual beings.” ~ Penguin Dictionary of Religions (1997)
“Man’s relationship to God or the gods or to what they consider sacred or, in some cases, only supernatural.” ~ Britannica Concise Encyclopedia (online, 2006)
In short, Religion tells about God and controls people from doing sins. Spirituality is about devotion, honesty and humanity. Spirituality leads us to become divine.
Difference between Religion & Spirituality:
Every religion has got two aspects to it. First, are its cultural settings namely its tradition, customs, rituals & practices. The other aspect is love for God, purification of mind, application of ethical values. This is the Spiritual aspect. So to visit the holy places is religious. But to practice the holiness for yourself is spiritual. To sing prayers in a temple or home is religious but to develop a prayerful heart is Spiritual. To ware neck beads & other religious ornaments on your body is religious but to decorate your inside with good qualities is Spiritual.
Religiosity will please elderly people in your house or society. But Spirituality will please God, & elevate you. Different words have different meanings to different people. If you look into the dictionary the meaning of Religious, there will be different meanings to this word & one of them will be Spiritual as well. ( As given above ) Some will be the word Spirituality. So the usage of the words keeps changing. The meaning of Religious & Spiritual has started becoming distinct in the modern era.
Between this two Spirituality is the most important. That is why all the prophets & saints sent to this world by God told us that Be Spiritual. Saying God, God only with a mouth is Religious but is far away than to have Spirituality in your heart. This is, you are following the law in words but not in spirit. Only reading the scriptures all the life & not loving the neighbor is not correct. You must have the love for God, Love for other living being is essential. It is to be understood that the ultimate goal of Religions of the world & its traditions, cultures is to make us truly Spiritual. All the saints & scriptures have inspired to us in that direction. You may follow an external form of your religion perfectly, but if it does not result in your own attachment with God, that is the only waste of time. So the aspect of love towards God is Spirituality & the external form is Religion.
Nowadays the younger generation doesn’t like performing rituals by there parents. But these religious practices have great importance in our society. Cultures, Traditions are passed on generations to generations. If these practices were not there the religion would have died down. The percentage of persons interested in Spirituality is very less. Rest people do not get inspired by these things. They consider that Spirituality is one of the aspects & no more than that. So for the masses, these religious traditions & rituals work as a something to hold on to.
If someone is told to sit in front of God & think of God only, it will be a difficult task for him. But if we told him to say the prayer in a loud voice then it will be easier for him. Chances are he began to like it. That is why religious practices are also important. Spirituality must be the goal but at some time we must respect for religious practices.
To explain further:
In short, if you bow to or recognize a God, being in the form of a stone, a picture or a statue or to an invisible God, you are not spiritual, you are religious.
Spiritual persons are those who have discovered there is only one true power and that is inside them. A spiritual person understands that there is only one truth and they are in fact in charge of there own evolution and destiny.
Spirituality is becoming more like God, who is spirit and changing ourselves so that our spirit becomes more like HIS Image.
Do you keep faith in the power of your own self and that you are in charge of your destiny? Then you are spiritual.
Someone has said – A true Lover doesn’t follow any one religion. Since in the religion of Love, there is no disrespect with anybody.
In short, religion is a collection of beliefs and rituals. It creates the right relationship of a person with God. Spirituality is a keeping watch on spiritual things and the spirit world rather than physical or worldly things.
Misconception about spirituality:
Misconception about spirituality is that there are many forms of spirituality and that they all have some authority. Meditating in odd positions, contacting the spirit world may seem “spiritual”, but are a false form of spirituality. True spirituality is the end result that the Holy Spirit brings in one’s life. That brings true love, happiness, peace, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control in a person’s life.
What religion and spirituality do have in common? They can both be wrong ways to know God. Religion can lead to replacing a true relationship with God with following rituals without putting your heart in it. Spirituality can lead to replacing a true relationship with God with contacting with the spirit world. Both can be wrong paths to go closer to God.
Religion is valuable due to it does point to God and tells us that we are accountable to Him in one way or another. The only true value of religion is it can point out where we are failing and we need aid in time. Spirituality is valuable because it teaches us that the material world is not everything. There is a spiritual world around us that we should be aware of. The importance of spirituality is that it emphasizes on the existence of something and someone behind these worldly things. That someone, we should be closer with.
God is the fulfillment of both, religion and spirituality. HE is One to whom we are answerable. HE is One we should follow. HE is the one to whom true spirituality & our religion points towards.
In the end, I will say this: Religion is spirituality in society! The difference between the two also appears to be getting shorter. Both spirituality and religion, perhaps a course in finding who you are and why you are here. Whatever you believe, our being on this planet is for some reason. That is to make our world more loving & meaningful. We are here to enjoy and make a beautiful and valuable life out of our lives.
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