There are differences between spirituality and religion. Their knowledge will increase awareness, make you choose wisely, give you an overview, and last but not least, give you a fresh perspective.
Let’s have a look at religions.
According to statistics, there are about 4,200 religions on the planet. Each has its own system of beliefs and dogmas, and most of them have both specific priests and institutions that represent them.
Out of the 4,200 religions, I found it easy to choose some names of religions, of which most likely you have never heard. I have also made a list: Bábism, Waldensians, Methodism, Nontrinitarianism, Yazidism, Tariqahism, Druzeism, Din-e Ilahi, Rodnovery, and Dudeism.
In the list above, I have selected ten names that caught my attention. You might wonder how can there be so many.
The explanation is simple. Most of them are derived from basic major religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.
These latter names may sound familiar to you. They are the most widespread religions on the planet, and below I will make a brief characterization of them.
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Minimal description of the 5 major religions
The Universe is Brahman’s breathing, an impersonal being, and the creator of the Universe.
All the gods of this religion are incarnations of Brahman.
“Salvation” is represented by absolution from the physical world.
Islam is the last of God’s messages, and Muhammad is the last prophet and messenger of Allah. Islam also believes in all prophets who were sent for humanity before the Prophet Muhammad.
God cannot have sons and is unique (radical monotheism).
It is a monotheistic religion, but the oneness of God includes the divinity of His Son and the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
It includes the confession of faith in Jesus Christ.
The followers are sinners even from birth, and they must redeem during their lifetime.
It is one of the three great monotheistic religions, along with Christianity and Islam.
Judaism begins with the covenant between God and Abraham, and its basic principles are found in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud.
It is the religion of the Jew people and is somehow the basis of Christianity and Islam.
The architect of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha).
Buddha (or enlightened one) was not the only Buddha. It is believed that there were many before him, and there will be many after him.
The pillars of the doctrine are the four noble truths. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.
Why did I tell you all that? For you to become aware that on Earth, there are not only a few dozen religions but thousands, each with hundreds of thousands of followers.
Now, after this opening of perspective, let’s turn a little to spirituality.
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What is Spirituality?
I once watched an interview of Wayne Dyer in which the reporter asked what would be the difference between religion and spirituality. I liked the simplicity and truth of his response, so I borrowed it.
If I had to put into simple words the difference between spirituality and religion, I would say that religion means disunion, while spirituality means unity.
There is no generally accepted definition of the concept of spirituality. Sociologists have described it something like this:
Search of the sacred. A transcendent dimension in human experience discovered in times when individual questions about purpose and existence find an answer.
Therefore, if I were to do a brief summary in three points as I did for the 5 major religions, I would say that spirituality:
Accepts all religions, borrowing certain aspects from each.
Advises the individual to find his own answers.
Is not institutionalized.
With what you have read so far, I am convinced that you have got an idea about the similarities and differences between the two concepts. However, I’ve made an illuminating list to clear up any confusion.
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Precise differences between spirituality and religion
Religion has clergy. The clergy consists of all the priests of a church or a cult.
Spirituality has no clergy.
Religion is an institution. It has buildings where devotees meet for various activities.
Spirituality is not an institution. Its temple is the whole Universe.
Religion claims to own the absolute truth. Each religion claims to be the only one knowing the truth.
Spirituality accepts that there are always new things to understand and it accepts that part of the truth exists in religions as well.
Religion is not open to novelty. Regardless of new scientific or technical developments, religion is adamant.
Spirituality is open to novelty. It integrates religions’ truth, that of personal experience, but also the scientific one.
Religion is disunion. There have been many wars in the name of Jesus Christ and people have died. Islam still carries its so-called “holy war” etc.
Spirituality is unity. It accepts that the truth is both in the whole and in its constituent parts.
There are about 4,200 religions.
Spirituality is one.
Religion advises you to seek guidance from others.
Spirituality advises you to seek guidance within yourself by listening to your inner voice.
Religion has a set of laws that cannot be questioned.
Spirituality invites you to question anything you want while being aware that every action of yours has consequences.
Religion teaches the fear of God.
Spirituality teaches the love of God and encourages you to search and find your inner peace.
Religion encourages the notion of sin and guilt for past deeds.
Spirituality invites you to live in the present.
Religion is assigned to you at birth.
Spirituality is the one you find for yourself.
Religion teaches you what to do.
Spirituality suggests you to be.
Religion is oriented to a heaven you may reach in the moment of physical death.
Spirituality helps you understand that you were born in this paradise and will continue to exist in it even after physical death.
Religion encourages ignorance of religious believers, whereas spirituality encourages knowledge of mysteries of the invisible world.
Religion handcuffs, creates addiction, whereas spirituality liberates human beings from all the rules, prejudices, and habits which, in the name of God, perpetuate the state of mental enslavement of the individual.
Religion puts an external divine character in its center, with intentions and behaviors often misunderstood. Spirituality – in addition to knowledge of objective metaphysical aspects of Creation – reveals the inner divinity in every human being, that which is our true psychic and spiritual center, the source of immediate power.
And the list of the difference between spirituality and religion remains open…
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Life is beautiful because it is entirely your choice. And once you become aware of it, you make a big step on your path to fulfillment.
Feel free to share your opinion about the difference between spirituality and religion in your personal view.
Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty
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Sunday 16th of August 2015
Not sure you can entirely tar Buddhism with the same brush, there are many sects of course but at its core, Buddhism is a philosophy. That is the Dalai Lama's perspective and what the teachings of the Buddha say. Sadly it's been hi-jacked somewhat, but as most in the UK certainly practice it, we don't regard it as a religion. Just my perspective I can see your point to an extent but it's at least one of the less harmful candidates. -) Peace. :-)
Saturday 18th of June 2016
Thank you for the post :)
Saturday 18th of June 2016
True that ! less harmful candidate :)
Thursday 8th of October 2015
Yes, this commentator is correct. Looking at the definitions presented herein that define the differences between religion and spirituality, buddhadharma would fall under spirituality and not religion. The Buddha was giving insights into mind and its world and how we become entangled in viewpoints and activities that lead to struggle and strife. He was merely attempting to point to the true nature of mind, which is wholly open and fresh. All the teachings of Buddhadharma are skilful means meant to be used as rafts and are not to be grasped onto.
Monday 3rd of August 2015
There is no holy war in Islam,the word Islam refers to peace.
Sunday 26th of June 2016
well we can sure see how Islam brings peace. You sound like Obama. Islam is a religion of peace, Ah, Ah !!! you better read the Qur'an and Muhammad's biography and if you're a woman instruct yourself on Sharia Law and what it means for women..... before you state that Islam refers to peace !