There is a lot of debate online about Spirituality vs Religion. I haven’t wanted to write about this subject because it seems like such a hot topic. But I guess I look at things a little different than some people. I’ve seen that there are some points about this topic that are not being discussed.
Most articles I’ve read are focusing on which is better. Spirituality or Religion. It seems to be more about bashing religion and making spirituality out as the victor in some contest between the two.
I don’t see it that way. I see religion as just one of many paths to growing spiritually. No different than meditation, yoga, or any other spiritual practice.
So I decided to go ahead and write this article to share my views on the subject. This is just my opinion, based on my life and the experiences I’ve had.
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What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a feeling, a connection, or relationship with a belief or with a higher power.
Finding an agreed upon definition of spirituality is a tough one. It seems to mean something different to everyone. And in reality that’s true.
Everyone’s spiritual walk is different. Everyone’s spiritual growth is different. Everyone has different spiritual experiences.
Most often those who are searching for spiritual meaning in their lives, have some sort of an awakening.
An Awakening –
Is becoming suddenly aware of something missing in your life. An idea or a desire for something more. You go your whole life not worried or never thinking about spirituality. All of a sudden it’s all you think about. You no longer feel comfortable just coasting through life. A light clicks on. Ideas and thoughts that are new, that you never thought about before, suddenly preoccupy you.
This is usually preceded by some big event happening in your life. Something tragic, sickness, or a death. Big changes such as getting older or divorce. It can be caused by anything that makes you face your mortality and question who you are and why you are here.
What does it mean to be spiritual?
What does it mean to be spiritual?
I’ve heard people say “I’m not religious I’m spiritual.” I’ve even said it. So what does this mean?
I think it could mean a few different things.
- Someone on a quest for meaning for their life. Searching and growing along the way. Being open to new ideas and thought. Finding small answers here and there in their different experiences.
- There are those who don’t believe in religion but still believe in God or other higher power. But because of a bad experience with religion they don’t want to have anything to do with it. They still pray and commune with their God or higher power.
- There are also some who believe their spirituality is based within themselves and their own inner power. These people are also on a quest searching ever deeper within themselves for answers.
- Being spiritual based on virtues or good conduct. Such as compassion, kindness, empathy, being helpful or thoughtful, loving, doing good deeds, and generosity.
- Many believe their spiritual walk is only found in church, or through religion.
- Some believe being spiritual is based on all of these things.
How do you grow your spirituality?
- Make time alone for self reflection. Have quiet times where you can sit and reflect on your life, your values, and beliefs. Journal the thoughts that come to your mind. Meditate and pray on these and any other questions you may have.
- Having a growth mindset is essential. A desire to continually grow and learn. An open mind to be able to see value in all things.
- Spiritual study of books, courses, seminars, and religious texts.
- Take time to meditate, pray or start a gratitude practice. Set a dedicated time each day for this.
What is Religion?
A religion in and of itself is a set of beliefs, doctrine, symbols and practices organized and taught to it’s followers. Religion attempts to answer life’s questions, with the goal of having sense of community family, and communion with other like minded people.
Religion may be defined as a cultural systems of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.Wikipedia
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of of folk religion.Wikipedia
What does it mean to be religious?
Are you religious? Religion on it’s own is an empty shell. It is a man made set of mandates or rules. It is structured to direct members in a path toward a more spiritual walk.
It’s like a car without gas. Without gas (spiritual growth), you will be sitting still. You have to put in the work and have a desire to grow spiritually for any religion to be of benefit.
Living a life of religion without any form of spirituality is what some call being religious.
You might be ‘religious’ if:
- You go to church out of a sense of guilt.
- You go to church because you feel like you’ll be judged by others if you don’t.
- You act one way around others in your church than you do in your day to day life.
- You are you critical of others walk with God.
- You judge others and feel superior to them because you are an upstanding church member.
- You have no desire to grow spiritually but still go to church.
Can You Have Spirituality Without Religion?
I’ve talked about this a little bit already in this article but I just want to point out that yes you certainly can there are many different ways to spirituality, religion just being one.
Your quest for a more spiritual life can be had from many different avenues. You can pick just one, such as going to church but I also want to point out that the path you choose can encompass many different things that you add to your life in your your search for spirituality.
You can go to church, meditate, pray, pray in meditation. You can pick an entirely different path such as spending more time in nature, having quiet times where you maybe do something like automatic writing or journaling.
That’s the great thing about spirituality. There’s no set blueprint. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with and what is working for you.
Can You Have Religion Without Spirituality?
Should you? No.
I grew up religious. I had moments of spirituality. I had more moments without. These moments were like deserts. Completely dry of anything spiritual. I went to church and that was pretty much it.
I put no time or energy into my spiritual life. I went to church because it was expected of me. I was very good at being religious.
I don’t believe spirituality is religion or being religious, but it is important to have spirituality in religion. I do believe religion without spirituality is spiritual death
There really is no contest between spirituality and religion. They really are two completely separate things. But they can be used in conjunction with one another to help you grow.
If you do go to church or belong to a religious group, I want to encourage you to search out your spirituality. Search out a relationship with your God or higher power. Don’t settle with being religious or living in a spiritual desert.
If you are using some other means for your spiritual growth, continue. When you find the path that’s right for you, you’ll know.
Always continue to grow and move forward.
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Please leave a comment below with anything you would like to add or share on this topic.