Spirituality and religion are quite often than not, confused with each other and if not, many times seen as a couple, as if one can’t have one without the other. It is assumed that one needs to be religious to be spiritual and vice-versa.
The truth is that spirituality and religion can surely intertwine and coexist in our lives, but they can also be distinct and detached.
I came across these definitions of Spirituality and Religion, which clearly reflects the difference between the two:
“Spirituality is a person’s experience of, or a belief in, a power apart from his or her own existence.”
“Religion is an organized system of practices and beliefs in which people engage … a platform for the expression of spirituality.”
Definitions source: WK Mohr in the article “spiritual issues in psychiatric care”
Spirituality is unique and distinctive for each individual, everyone having their own plethora of reasons and experiences as to why one believes in a higher being, it being an individual journey between that human being and that higher entity that he believes in.
Religion, on the other hand, is defined and controlled by man, creating a universal platform with no consideration for individual reasoning. It is “an organized system of practices” that places each one of us into a mould with little consideration of our spiritual needs.
I believe in God, but I am not religious. It’s my personal experiences in life that have shown me the importance of putting spirituality in the centre of my life and not religion.
When I was a kid, during my growing up years, our whole township was like a family, a group of people who cared about one another and supported each other through the good times and bad. We reached out to people helping those in need, whether they were Christian, Hindu, Muslim or any other religion. I learnt the importance of serving others even if they were different and showed me that there are people who live the teachings of the faith.
Sadly, today I see a completely different side of religion, one which tries to dominate, and afraid to include those who are not from its own. Religion was never the criteria when I made friends those days, but today I see kids losing countless friends in their school days in the name of religion. It isn’t any argument that ends the friendships; it is because everyone is adamant about their faith and none wants to even understand the other story, let alone convert.
Having closely worked with many religious institutions in my professional capacity, I became even more aware of the flaws within religion, while I saw the cliques that form within a congregation.
I’ve seen lower caste groups persecuted and belittled in temples. I’ve seen priests losing their job because of church politics despite the fact that they were strong, spiritual men.
I’ve seen the judgement, hierarchy and greed that can come from religion and all this is because religion is created and controlled by man.
With this, I have put my faith in spirituality and not hypocritical religion.
I believe in God and not in Religion.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.”
All religious books preach this in one form or another, but sadly we cannot seem to live by this philosophy.