Even though they might be the same to some of us, there is a clear difference between religion and spirituality. There are people that choose to be atheists, but that does not necessary mean they don’t guide themselves and follow certain principles.
Before embarking on such a tremendously topic, we need to define those two terms. Religion can be defined as faith in God, in deity and most of the times it manifests through different kind of rituals; religion also involves an ethical code. Spirituality is the capacity of being spiritual, which shows through people’s character. So, religion is a set of beliefs and rituals that can bring the human in a close relation with a deity, while spirituality is a way of looking at the world.
Once you know the difference between religion and spirituality, you will be able to choose wisely, because it makes you see the world with different eyes.
First of all, let’s take a look at the religions existing on the globe. Statistics show that there are around 4200 religions on the planet. Each of them have their own system and set of rules, and most of them have institutions represented by different priests. Most likely you never heard of those religions and among them are: babism, methodism, waldensian movement, dudeism, yazidism and so on.
The first five religions in the world are spread in each corner of the world and I believe it’s a good opportunity to write something about them:
- Hinduism is the religion in which the Universe is the breath of Brahman, the creator. All the Gods are nothing else but incarnations of Brahman. They believe we are trapped in this world and the only moment when we will be saved is when we free ourselves from the physical world.
- The Muslim religion – Islam is the last massage to the world, and Muhammad is the last prophet and messenger of Allah. They also believe in all the prophets sent to the mankind before Muhammad. God cannot have sons and he is unique (radical monotheism).
- Christianity – a monotheist religion, but the uniqueness of God includes His Son and the Holy Spirit. They believe in Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary and the followers are born with sins and they need to save themselves during this life.
- Judaism – one of the biggest monotheist religions in the world, among Muslim and Christianity. Judaism begins with the bond between God and Abraham, and its principles are the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. It is the religion of the Jewish people and it has certain things in common with both Christianity and Islam.
- Buddhism – the initiator was Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). It is believed that there were many others illuminated men and there will be many others after Buddha. They search for Buddha’s reincarnation all the time among young children with special abilities. The pillars of their religion are the 4 noble truths.
Why do we have to know about this? Because in order to realize how different and separated the mankind is, we need to become conscious that on Earth are thousands of religions; each of them with thousands of adepts who believe their religion is the right path and if you don’t become a follower, you will not be able to save yourself.
Moving on the spirituality, if I were to say in just a few simple words what is the difference between spirituality and religion, I could easily say that religion means division, while spirituality means unity.
There is no definition of spirituality that is generally accepted, but there might be one that has certain things in common with all the definitions: the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity Christ, in Buddhism Buddha, in the Islam Muhammad.”
On the other hand, the sociologists say that the spirituality is a constant search of the sacred. A transcendental dimension discovered in the moments when individual questions regarding existence find an answer.
As a conclusion to the meaning of spirituality, we could say that spirituality accepts all the religions, it urges the individual human being to find own answers to own questions and it doesn’t have institutions.
If you made an overview, we can now discuss about punctual differences between spirituality and religion:
- Religion is clergy. Clergy is the whole priests and institutions of certain worship. Spirituality doesn’t have clergy;
- Most of the times religion is an institutions. It has buildings and its adepts meet for different activities. Spirituality isn’t an institution. Its temple is the Universe;
- Religion claims to know the supreme truth. Each religion claims to be the only one who knows the truth. Spirituality accepts that there is always new unknown aspects and understands that a part of the truth can be found in religion;
- Religion doesn’t accept anything new. No matter how much the science evolves, religion is still the same. Spirituality is open to the new. It tries to integrate science with religion and personal experience;
- Religion can also mean division. There have been wars in the name of different religions and many people died. Spirituality is unity. It accepts that everyone can be right or wrong and it tries to bring harmony among ideas and people themselves;
- There are thousands of religion and only one spirituality;
- Religion urges you to obtain guidance from others, while spirituality urges you to find your own way;
- Many times religion teaches you to be afraid of God. Spirituality teaches you that God loves you;
- Religion is something you are born with and spirituality is something you find on your own;
- Religion teaches you what to do. Spirituality suggests you to be yourself;
Remember one thing: life is beautiful because it is made by our own decisions.