Spirituality vs Religion: Finding Purpose Through Practice

spirituality vs religion

The first written records of religion date back to 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia, more than 5000 years ago! We’ve had religions in some form for thousands of years. So, shouldn’t we have figured it all out by now?

Instead, there are thousands of religions in the world, and even followers of the same religion disagree on practices and beliefs. This is because people view the world differently based on their experiences, opinions, and communities.

Lately, more and more people are saying they’re spiritual but not religious. What does that really mean? Can you even have one without the other?

When you compare spirituality vs religion, the distinction is murky at best. There are some very different aspects of both, and also a lot of overlap.

If you’ve ever wondered what the differences are between spirituality and religion, and what side of the line your beliefs fall, read on to learn more.

Spirituality vs Religion

Humanity has always been on the lookout for purpose and guidance. Where do we come from? Why are we here, and what are we supposed to do with our fleeting time on this earth?

Religion and spirituality formed to try to answer these questions.

Religion is a set of organized rules for worship and ways to relate to the divine. For example, Christianity has a set of procedures for services, prayer, and hierarchy. These rituals are intended to bring the worshipper closer to God.

Religions are almost always based on the lives and teachings of historical figures like Christ, Buddha, or Muhammed. The details are passed down through time via scriptures. Tradition also dictates practices for worship and devotion.

Spirituality is an individual’s relation to the divine. It is a deeply personal connection to something larger than the self. A spiritualist will form their own life stance rather than seeking a religious group.

Spirituality is a way to express meaning and purpose through personal feelings of connectedness. It can be said that religion is a set of practices intended to form a sense of spirituality, and connectedness in the divine.

Spirituality and religion can go hand in hand. Some people follow religious practices and feel completed and connected to their God.

Other people can be religious without feeling a sense of connection from their practice. This makes them religious, without being spiritual. Likewise, people can be spiritual without following a set religion.

What Is Religion?

Religion comes from tradition. This means holding onto the past to preserve certain teachings and religious practices.

Religious people perform rituals to worship an external thing, like a representation of the divine. Without spirituality, they’re just going through the motions. This can make religion feel isolating and repetitive, particularly when there’s no clear connection to the divine.

Religion is organized, structured, and rule-based, which can lead to an in-group mentality. Consider how some churches encourage their members to follow certain personal and political beliefs. Some even say that it is sinful to go against the group’s beliefs.

The notions of God’s wrath, sin, eternal punishment, and judgment can foster fear in religion. Some members of congregations keep their suffering to themselves to avoid the judgment of others.

This sort of black and white thinking is what has led to religious conflict and increased suicide rates in LGBT youth. In cases like these, religion’s adherence to strict codes of conduct, rather than appreciating love and connectedness in all its forms, can be stifling.

What Is Spirituality?

Spirituality is an individual practice, where the focus is on increasing understanding of one’s soul. Spiritual growth is achieved by listening to yourself, and following what feels right. This makes the journey to the divine a mental process rather than an activity.

Because there’s less structure and fewer restrictions than in religion, the spiritualist is free to follow their own inner call, and engage in more flexible and adaptive mindsets.

In contrast to pure religion, spirituality focuses on love and kindness rather than fear. There is no fear of the afterlife, or of punishment. There is just a search to improve the self and treat the world with kindness.

The Overlap of Spirituality and Religion

Of course, when considering spirituality and religion, it’s not always such a black and white divide between love and fear. There are many wonderful congregations and many loving religions that use rituals as a tool to feel connected to each other and the divine.

The goal of both spirituality and religion is to unite people with their higher power. Sometimes a sense of community and ritualism can help this goal, allowing members to get advice and guidance without being crippled by judgment and fear.

One of the fastest-growing religions today is Wicca. Wicca can be a great example of the union of spirituality and religion.

At its core, Wicca is a deeply spiritual personal journey to find peaceful, positive energy. These are the spiritual elements.

Some Wiccans also practice magic and join covens. These are the religious elements of ritual and community.

Some Wiccans engage in ritual practices, but others don’t. Yet, all Wiccans are unified by the same goal of finding unity with the natural world and good energy.

Wicca encapsulates the notion that religion is a set of tools that facilitate the spiritual journey without smothering it. The practitioner can consider all the counseling and literature afforded by religion but retain the free choice to navigate the path themselves.

Your Personal Beliefs

Now that you know a little more about spirituality vs religion, you’re probably considering your own beliefs. Your beliefs could be more spiritual, or they could be more religious. Or they could balance both.

Whatever you believe, the mission of both spirituality and religion is to make you comfortable, confident, and happy. If you find yourself wondering about your religion or looking for some guidance and advice, feel free to reach out to our psychics and advisors, who can help you find the answers you’re looking for.

Speak Your Mind