What is spirituality? How is it different from religion? What’s the difference between the two? Many people I talk to don’t know how to explain that they are “spiritual” and not “religious.”
I’ve noticed that people generally seem to look at religion as limiting and repressive and see spirituality as liberating and inspiring and one may seem better than the other. In reality, however, you can be part of a religious institution and be spiritual or you can be religious without belonging to a church. These words are just labels that represent different ways of focusing on God and what God means.
Similarities between spirituality and religion
Although religion and spirituality are distinctly different, what they have in common is belief in a Higher Power of some kind, and both desire to enter into a deeper relationship with this Higher Power.
Differences between the two
Religion requires that you follow a particular belief system that the church and its authorities have established. Spirituality places less importance on structured beliefs and focuses more on growing consciously and evolving to our highest level as human beings.
Although most religions state that God is loving and forgiving, they also teach the concept of sin and the consequences of wrongdoing. Religions often have a fear-based component to them, whereas the spiritual approach to God does not. Spirituality is seen as love-based and does not judge actions as “right” or “wrong.”
When I am asked, I say that I have a more “spiritual” focus because I resonate with the viewpoints that spirituality embraces. However, more than the label, what is fundamental about spirituality is the awareness and consciousness with which one chooses to live.
Just because someone goes to church, attends spiritual gatherings, participates in prayer groups, and can quote spiritual wisdom does not make him spiritual.
Just because someone meditates, burns candles, talks about peace and love, listens to angelic music, and chants or prays does not make her spiritual.
Just because someone is “psychic” and can get “messages” about those who have passed on or obtain hidden details about other people’s lives does not make him spiritual.
Just because someone volunteers time to a charity or donates a lot of money to the disabled does not make her spiritual.
And on the other hand…
Just because someone does not believe in “God” or a higher consciousness does not mean she is not spiritual.
Just because someone does not go to church does not mean that he is not spiritual.
Just because someone swears, listens to gangster rap, and has “negative” thoughts running through her mind does not mean that she is not spiritual.
On being spiritual
All human beings are spiritual. It’s not what we do that makes us spiritual, but what we innately are—the essence of Spirit manifest in physical bodies. Have you heard the phrase, “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience, you are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience?”
Whenever I read these words, it reminds me that I am a spiritual being and that Earth is just temporary and during the time we are here, we have opportunities to experience, evolve, and grow. All of our life experiences are just ways to get us to wake up to the underlying order of the universe and grow to be our best selves.
Acting in ways that are “not spiritual”
I often hear people say things like “Joe is not spiritual. He’s a liar and a scammer,” or “Jessica is not spiritual. She cheated on her husband!” The reality is that we are all spiritual because we originate from the world of Spirit, yet when people are unconscious of this fact they may act in ways that are not “of Spirit.”
We all have times when we are not as connected to Spirit and do or say things that are against our spiritual nature. This does not change who we are. The difference lies in our awareness, how we choose to take responsibility, and the intention we set for life and how to live it.
My Spiritual Path
For me, being on a spiritual path is also to be inspired by life, no matter what challenges I may have. It is unnatural to be automatically thankful for everything in our lives, simply because there are always challenges that we wish we did not have to experience. However, the commitment I have to my spiritual journey guides me to recognize and trust that there is something to be gained in all these challenges. I know there is an underlying order and that I am a part of this amazing matrix of life for a reason.
On this “spiritual” path I am on, I have found that my perspective on everything that happens in my life is what defines my experience. As such, I continuously strive towards trusting the bigger picture of life and recognize that nothing happens to me and everything happens for me.
By doing so, I feel that I experience the authenticity of my own spirituality. How do you experience your spirituality?