Spirituality and religion are often used interchangeably due to their similarities in theory and practice. Some people may claim to be religious and spiritual, or spiritual but not religious.
Spirituality is said to open up new doors to the whole human experience. It’s characterized by striving to build a connection between oneself to one’s surroundings.
Further, personal spirituality allows you to create your path to inner peace and a profound understanding of the world and beyond.
For a deeper discussion, here are eight ways spirituality differs from religion and how to enhance it.
It’s said that spirituality emphasizes the individual. What you learn shall be based on your understanding and experience through meditation, yoga, and silent contemplation. It leads to greater self-awareness.
In contrast, religion is more about belonging. As organized institutions, they focus on collective understanding and practice among their members. One moves as part of a group than living by their discernment of what should and should not be done.
Being spiritual can sometimes be seen as a rebellious act for not following authority for your life decisions and principles. All you have is inspiration from the teachings of people who have reached a higher level of consciousness.
Seeking to experience a spiritual awakening starts with self-reflection. Think about who you are, what you do, and your reasons for doing them. Practice mindfulness, focus on the present moment, and let your thoughts and emotions flow like a stream. If you’re wondering if you have already experienced this level of enlightenment, you may take a spiritual awakening quiz.
Enables Seeking Your Purpose
Spirituality and religion attempt to seek the purpose of human life. However, these two have different paths that lead to varying answers that may contradict.
Organized religions exist because of natural human curiosity, prompting different attempts to explain why and how things exist and the purpose of their existence. For instance, Abrahamic faiths believe there’s one divine deity who created the universe and predetermined the purpose of individual life.
Contrastingly, spirituality allows individuals to seek their own purpose in life. There’s no predetermined mission or destination. You have to connect to your higher self to determine your place in the universe.
Requires Looking Inward ThEn Outward
Being spiritual means taking a journey towards finding your true self. It’s a learning experience that requires looking inward to see beyond the ordinary. Conversely, being religious requires finding meaning outside yourself. It can be based on what a preacher or teacher conveyed from a holy book.
There’s not one single path towards deeper spirituality. Each journey varies for everyone, no matter how similar the experiences are. Other people’s testimonies and realizations can only be your inspiration, but never a prescribed method to follow.
Practicing mindfulness in mundane tasks can enhance your spirituality. Focusing on the tiny details of your ordinary life, no matter how simple they are, allows profound self-reflection.
Breaks Traditional Restrictions
Religion’s core is a set of beliefs, values, and rules one needs to follow to appease a particular deity. These commands are mostly written in a sacred book passed on from generation to generation. It’s also composed of rituals and traditions practiced by members as a sense of unity and camaraderie.
On the other hand, spirituality enables breaking free from these rules. Yet spiritual freedom doesn’t equate to unruliness, but the opposite. When a set of standards does not restrict you, you become more accountable for your thoughts and actions.
Taking the path from religion toward spirituality doesn’t mean disregarding the values you have learned before. You can carry the good in your mind and enrich it. The only difference is, you have to contemplate its meaning and importance on your own, rather than having an authority figure explain it to you.
Relies On Experiences Than On Faith
Faith is the foundation of the world’s largest religions. It’s the firm belief of what has happened and will happen despite the lack of physical evidence.
Contrarily, spirituality relies more on individual experiences by acknowledging the uniqueness of its meaning. No notion is higher or more genuine than the other. What’s true to one isn’t necessarily true for the other.
Since being spiritual promotes self-actualization through experience, meditation is encouraged. Finding your true self is a life-long journey, so you don’t have to force it. Let it flow, and it’ll happen.
Spirituality is ever-changing. Your morals may change over time as you learn more about life. Your moral principles evolve by adapting to the changes in time and the world you live in.
On the other hand, religion is traditional. Most organized religions have unchanging faith and standards they pass on to different generations. Despite society’s evolution, a religion’s moral code mostly remains the same.
Unlike most religions’ unchanging teachings, your values and goals in life aren’t restricted by a specific standard or principle. It can change over time as you get to know yourself more and interact with the world.
Belonging to a group may develop an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Being in an exclusive group tends to limit connection with people outside.
Since spirituality is individual rather than collective, it’s more inclusive and open to differences. You embrace an individual’s uniqueness, which doesn’t stop you from creating meaningful interactions and relationships.
Additionally, spirituality has no definite form. It caters to one’s perspective and consciousness. Individual differences are strengths you celebrate. You belong to no one but your own self, so you see others the same.
Paves The Path Towards Genuine Love And Kindness
Most religions thrived through centuries through fear of punishment. Although they may relay messages of love and peace, doing good is often motivated by reward or punishment.
On the contrary, spirituality nurtures unconditional love and kindness. You have to do good solely because it’s a beautiful thing to do. It doesn’t require a reward or punishment as a driving force. You’ve reached a certain level of peace and understanding within you that it overflows outward and is felt by the people around you.
Being at peace with yourself is the path to creating harmony with the world. The process leading to this level of self-awareness can be daunting at first since it requires facing your fears, frustrations, and weaknesses. You have to accept these flaws to renew your life and perspective.
Spirituality is a long journey with a lot of side trips. Unlike religion, it doesn’t offer one way towards a goal. Instead, it requires taking turns or paving your unique path towards deeper self-awareness, genuine love, and unshakable peace.