Spirituality, whether one is religious or not, is a crucial part of this long and unpredictable existence called humanity. Sure, they might share some similarities, and a few people might have made the mistake of lumping the two together, but spirituality and religion are two very different things. Spirituality is often defined as the quality of being concerned with the human soul or spirit instead of the more material or physical things. To some, it might include a belief in some kind of god or deity; to some, it might not. Religion, meanwhile, is a belief and worship in a superhuman controlling power. This belief follows a set of rules and traditions that will define that religion. Depending on the religion, this could mean one God or a whole pantheon of them.
In “Pony Ride to an Awakening,” a Guidebook for Spirituality by Hedin Daubenspeck, the author states that “No one religion holds all of life’s answers” and that “If we learn and understand the lessons of the natural world, we can find harmony within ourselves….” There and then, we see how much spirituality and religion are different. Spirituality is broader in scope than religion. In that sense, too, spirituality is much more tolerant than religion. With how much some religions include an “us versus them” narrative, it is very easy for some religions to become an exclusive group. Worse, they may quickly become radical and extremist groups.
Individuality versus Group Beliefs
The very nature of religion makes it that it is a shared experience. With religion, a group or a congregation will have a common faith or belief. Thus, religion can have more structure built into it. With this structure comes rules, and thus, religion will aim to create an ideal person with adherence to these rules at the end of the day. This so-called individual is what that religion will call the epitome of a “good and moral” person.
Spirituality, meanwhile, focuses on the individual beliefs of a person. More often than not, these beliefs and principles will come from the different aspects of life he or she has experienced. And it is not limited to that. Spirituality can even take some of the truths and learnings from different beliefs and religions and form his opinion from them. If he thinks that these things are of use to his spirituality, then he can very well take them and use them for his very own personal growth. As such, a spiritual person can both be a religious or non-religious person. At the end of the day, people’s spiritual journey will be their very own personal journey.
Structure of Beliefs
Spirituality has no set structure; thus, it is like water and constantly flowing. Some may find spirituality in observing nature and how it behaves. Some may see it in a movie theater, a painting, or in a music record and how it relates to them. Yes, the way a person reacts to particular art forms or even just art pieces can be the starting point of a person’s spirituality.
Religion, meanwhile, is very different. Its rigid structure and set of beliefs do not always allow for a more flexible approach. As a direct effect of this, some religions have created concepts that discourage non-believing a particular religion. This is why such concepts as Hell, The Devil, and salvation are prevalent in most beliefs. This is not to say that spirituality promotes “evil.” Far from that, spirituality examines what is good and evil to the very core. Spiritual persons, more often, understand WHY some things are evil and WHY some things are good. It does not judge just because some kind of rule book said so.
Spirituality and religion may seem alike at first, but they are very different concepts. However, they share the same goal: to make meaning in humanity’s existence. These two may overlap, and they are sure to impact how a person may think, act, and feel.