There’s some confusion going on regarding these two concepts. It’s easy to see why this would be the case, simply because you’re going to find there’s overlap in the definitions. Let’s take this apart and see if we can make more sense of things.
Religion, by definition, is a collection of beliefs set out with specific patterns and symbols that define how it is practiced. This can become extremely diverse and reflect an entire world of beliefs. There are thousands of different religions in the world today.
Religion might be easier to understand if you think of it as an outward expression of your faith journey. It has more to do with what you’re doing to express your beliefs and tends to involve contemplation or worship in unison with others.
Spirituality is the inward journey. Someone spiritual seeks a personal connection with the mysteries of the universe and explores more fully their place within it. They look to understand themselves as well as the reasons behind why they do something. Spirituality encourages inner reflection and is often practiced alone.
Let’s explore how these are woven together:
Religion is Born from Spirituality
When you go back to the origins of any religion, you’ll find the spiritual at the core of it. Sadly, this is what sometimes gets lost over time. People get caught up in the rules and rote learning of their belief system and forget that at the heart of their practice is a more profound truth. For this reason, sometimes, religion is seen to have no spiritual component at all.
You Cannot Experience Spirituality or Religion without Love
When practiced correctly, you will find love at the core of both practices. Religion tends to put the focus of that love on the god-figure, both in the love this deity has for the world or in the love expressed for the world in the practice of this belief. Even religions without a god at the central core (and there are many without) encourage loving practice. In spirituality, this love also involves love of yourself, again typically manifested in ways designed to express love to those around us.
Both Religion and Spirituality Explore Truths
Religion typically already has these truths written down somewhere, and spirituality focuses on the process of discovering truth for yourself. These beliefs are not mutually exclusive. The religious person will want to study these truths to understand how they pertain to their own life, giving them a spiritual journey not dissimilar to the spiritual person.
While there are many more aspects to both religion and spirituality, it’s their importance in your life that really matters. Whether you’re more comfortable in a religious setting or would prefer to practice your spirituality in a more personal way, you’ll find an emotional and even physical benefit to both. Having a belief system is integral to personal growth and development and leads to better mental and even physical health. So, don’t be afraid to explore the deeper truths and what they mean to you.