Religion as well as spirituality are linked to each other. However, at the same time, they are very different from each other. Even though both these are associated with faith, there are very divergent ideologies followed by each. Religion consists of beliefs regarding the nature, cause and purpose of things in the universe and usually religion involves ritual observances and devotions as well as a moral code.
Spirituality on the other hand is about being spiritual. Religion is established for different reasons. These exert control and instill morality in the person, they stroke egos too. Spirituality however is usually born in the individual and develops in him or her. It could be a result of religion or revelation. Spirituality is not just one facet of a person’s life but it extends to the complete life of the person. This is chosen by the individual whereas religion is thrust on a person at most times.
The difference between the two is that spirituality is being and religion is about believing. Religion focuses on the content of the belief and the working of the belief. Spirituality on the other hand is about being attuned to affairs that are unworldly. One can be spiritual and not religious and the opposite is also possible. A person can be religious and yet not spiritual.
Religious people accept beliefs and they follow observances. A person that is spiritual on the other hand usually prays, meditates, reads scripture passages as well as does charity. This is because spirituality is abstract. However, there is a code as well as ethics which are tangible in religion. Spirituality on the other hand is not definable.
Religion offers you a promise of the after-life. Spirituality allows you to find God in yourself in the here and now. Religion is confined by memory but spirituality is more about freedom in awareness.
In religion, you normally are asked to renounce the world whereas spirituality shows you how you can live with God in the world. Religion is dialectic and feeds the ego whereas spirituality is logic and makes you transcend.
Spirituality and religion both are guides to help people to lead better lives, lives which are more meaningful and which help not only themselves but also fellow creatures. Both these if followed as per the principles and not in blind faith, lead to the person leading a more fruitful life.
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Religion is usually defined as the belief in a God or gods to be worshiped. This is usually done by following specific rituals and it is expressed in certain conduct. This usually has a code of ethics which needs to be followed as well. Spirituality on the other hand is more of a non physical or spiritual character. It is about character which is expressed in life, thought and tone. Religion claims that when the person follows the beliefs, rituals and more, their relationship with God will be put right. Spirituality on the other hand focuses on the spiritual world and spiritual things instead.
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Religion and Spirituality should be almost synonymous, but sadly it isn’t. There are huge differences between religion and spirituality.
a) Religion usually talks of a world view which is all about us against them. Spirituality on the other hand upholds the view of us and them.
b) Religion usually owes it’s loyalty to clergy, rules, institutions and more. Whereas spirituality owes it’s loyalty to compassion and justice.
c) Religion speaks about God whereas Spirituality talks about being godly.
d) Religions are varied and some are completely different to each other whereas spirituality is the same.
e) Religions have a hierarchy of initiates and most have an inner circle which lead the rituals for the rest of the people. Spirituality does not have a hierarchy.
f) Religious people could be spiritual ones and generally speaking, most of them are. Spiritual persons on the other hand may not be religious but may attain spirituality through other means.
g) Religion usually consists of a community of people with the same beliefs. It tries to initiate uniformity in action and thought as well among the members and the members who are part of it are provided with physical and spiritual support. Spirituality on the other hand is very individualistic.
h) Religion is something which comes from outside whereas spirituality is something that comes from within. Religion focuses on the outside whereas spirituality focuses on the within.
i) The character of the individual is shaped by religion whereas the individual himself or herself is shaped by spirituality.
j) Religion instills discipline in the individual whereas spirituality makes the mind of the person strong.
All things considered, religion can be considered as a subset of spirituality and once the individual has built himself or herself to be spiritually strong, they do not need religion in order to survive.