Spirituality versus religion
Vail CO, Colorado
We hear and read the term “spirituality” or “spiritual” everywhere these days. What does this truly mean? Are those who call themselves “spiritual,” religious, and vice versa?
Wikipedia defines spirituality as “concerns with matters of the spirit, a concept tied to religious belief and faith, a transcendent reality. Spiritual matters are thus those matters regarding humankind’s ultimate nature and purpose, not only as material biological organisms, but as beings with unique relationship to that which is perceived to be beyond both time and the material world.”
Religion is defined as “a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, or religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. The term ‘religion’ refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.”
Those who believe they are spiritual but not religious are still seeking their connection to all that is greater than themselves. Those who believe themselves to be religious are doing the same. Spirituality allows for exploration of all possibilities with no boundaries. Religion usually discourages exploration and defines the boundaries. Neither is right or wrong.
Spirituality encompasses the whole soul’s journey. It explores that which is immortal within you. It connects the metaphysical reality that is greater than oneself, which may include an emotional experience of religious awe. Spirituality is concerned with matters of psychological health and to activate the higher potential of the human being. One working in a spiritual practice seeks to become free of the ego and more in tune to one’s true self.
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Spirituality asks you to explore and believe in the vastness of the answers. People who are spiritual may or may not use the words of religious writings such as God, Jesus, etc. They may find these words too confining in a world of exploration. This does not indicate that they don’t believe in God, Jesus, etc.; the words do not define their beliefs.
Religion is often described as a belief system of thought, unseen being, person or object that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or of the highest truth. Religion generally refers to organized gatherings, a coming together of communal beliefs. It defines morals, practices, values, institutions, traditions, rituals, core beliefs and scriptures. It is defined as a “way of life.”
Religion asks you to believe in the written word and doctrine, to follow the path or way. People who are religious may or may not use words of spiritual writings such as intuition, other realms, etc. Since these words do not have a definite answer, people of religious beliefs may find the words of a spiritual practice to be too undefined.
These two beautiful and complimentary practices allow us to blend our questions of the unknown into a practice of belief. Spirituality is about being open, exploring and learning to ask questions. Religion is about understanding the provided (written) answers to our questions. Neither is right or wrong. It is about personal choice.
Wars are fought over who’s right and who’s wrong when it comes to religious beliefs. Enjoy who you are and enjoy your search for answers to the unknown, however you choose to do it. Being spiritual or religious doesn’t matter. The fact that you’re studying or examining something to connect to is more important than doing nothing.
Catherine Zeeb holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Metaphysics. She has a private therapy practice in Edwards and teaches Metaphysics at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. You can visit her Web site at http://www.healing-spirits.net.