Religion vs Spirituality

“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience”

~Unknown

Full disclaimer, I fully and wholeheartedly believe in God. I am by no means a scholar or professional on this topic, a lot of the information may very well be wrong. These are just my thoughts and opinions based of my readings and discussions with other individuals.

Pretty much everyone believes in some sort of “higher power”. The role of which this Higher Power plays is different from person to person. The key factor here is that there is the shared action of belief in something. “Religion and Spirituality are both paths to God. However, they have different approaches.”

Religion is described as communal gathering centered around a shared belief. It is the belief and worship of a controlling power that oversees everything. Religion is structured and has set teachings accompanied by scholars and texts. There are teachers, and those that follow the religion are the followers. One of the most profound points of interest regarding religion is that the adopted approach is that or fear. The fear of God and Punishment. We’re taught God is all forgiving, should we seek forgiveness, but we will also be greatly punished and tested. Religion has also led to immense conflict, as a great number of different religions feel that THEIR religion is the “One True Religion” and is the path to salvation if followed. These religion Zealots feel other religions are wrong and will lead to damnation. Most religions teach tolerance and living in peace, so I find this approach taken very ironic.

Religion is basically being told what to do (the 10 commandments) and then being ostracized and shunned if people violate said rules. I feel this doesn’t leave much room for growth and develop both emotionally and socially as people are taught to conform and not question or ask about what has been passed down. Now don’t get me wrong, the teachings and Commandments passed down to us earthly beings provide great guidance and a guideline for what we should deem acceptable in society. I feel, however, they should be adapted and updated as society and the world progresses. We’re all following something told to us thousands of years ago. If computers and software require frequent updates, surely the values and social constructs we follow should be updated based on the goings on around us?

Spirituality now. I feel I’m somewhat religious, but I agree with the ideas and practices of spirituality. I grew up in a religious school throughout my primary and secondary education, and so I feel I’m in a position to see both practices objectively. Spirituality, to me, is broad and can’t EXACTLY be defined. My interpretation of it is merely the workings of and actions concerned with your spirit. So spirituality and conscience go hand in hand. But a third hand is involved as I feel religion lends the moral compass to which spirituality is guided by.

Spirituality is being at peace with yourself. Inside peace. Where you’re not in turmoil and in pain based off your actions. I believe spirituality is about growth emotionally and “spiritually” whereby we strive to be the best people we can be, not out of fear of being punished by an Almighty Deity, but rather because we know that it’s the right thing to do. And we would expect the same from others.

The way you think and process outside stimuli begins to change as you think deeper about spirituality. As I said, inner peace is what is sought, and the way you react to situations out of your control will have a devastating impact on your inner peace.

Religion and spirituality are very closely related in my opinion, with just a few differences separating them. Religion is clear cut and rigid, whereas Spirituality leaves room for interpretation and development based on situations. It lets you take the teaching of a religion you follow and apply it in a way that you see fit to any situation you may be in. It helps you understand that there are many ways you could interpret a teaching, and so you must also use personal experience to better react to a situation.

An example of this adaptability:

“If you are struck, turn the other cheek”

The literal interpretation of this is that if someone wrongs you (slaps you), turn the other cheek and basically forgive them and move on with life.

Spirituality might leave room for an interpretation that would make turning the other cheek, an action such as removing yourself from the presence of the perpetrator and having no contact with them. Rather than dealing with abuse or a less than ideal situation, the quest for inner peace will lead you away from it.

Another difference that I feel is important is the Inner/Outer worshipping. In most religions, you must go to a house of worship and pray with other followers in order “to be heard”. Rituals and ceremonies are held multiple times a week to solidify the worship. Spirituality (to me) means that I can connect and talk to my God at any time, in any place. All I need is silence and a moment alone. This, in my opinion, is preferable and more intimate. We all pray for different things and to show thanks for different things, so why should we all pray generically? Each prayer should be unique and from the heart, so to stand in great numbers and all recite the same prayer doesn’t seem fruitful to me.

Believe in whatever you like, as long as you believe in something. This blog was not made in an effort to “bash” or put down any religion. It was merely my thoughts on the constructs of religion vs the freedom and autonomy of spirituality.

Hopefully it has shed some light on how you can make small changes if you are religious or have no religion. Inner peace and the good treatment of our fellow man is something we could all benefit from. Whether religion, spirituality or Batman will make that happen for you is irrelevant, as long as it happens.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

~The Golden Rule

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