Many times I wonder as how spirituality is different from the religion? We see that people who follow spirituality are normally against the religion or do not believe in the religion. The strange thing is that the ultimate aim for both is the same, i.e. to attain God. Is it that we look at spirituality and religion separately, but in reality both are one and the same or are there some fundamental differences between the two? Which path should we follow or which one is suitable for us?
The main difference between religion and spirituality is that of belief and of personal experience. Religion asks you to believe in the experience of some pure soul where spirituality is about having your own personal experience. If you notice, then you will realize that religion is more about written science where spirituality is the practical one. Religion is about dedicating your life in the devotion of God and Spirituality is about searching for God and experiencing the divinity within.
There are many religions and all have their own paths to attain God. The explanation of God is different in all religions. Perhaps the people who followed them in old times, did it as per their own convenience and understanding. The prophets or God took birth on earth to show the path to attain it. Different interpretations were made of their teachings and out of that were born many religions. In spirituality, there are many sects based on different Gurus. But, the teachings are almost the same with few differences.
Many people have lost the respect for religion because of different reasons. More blood has been shed in the name of religion than any other reason. People now do not understand the rituals because not many people can explain the real meaning behind the same. Lots of businesses are flourishing in the name of God. What we have understood of religion is a very low-level of it. We respect and even worship who devoted their life to God, but we do not want to do the same. That is why we get comfortable by only visiting the church or temples. Taking only small part of something so big, so life changing has deteriorated the meaning of religion.
Our mind is like a monkey. We get so many thoughts in a single day that it becomes difficult to focus on something. Religions were introduced for the same reason. Now if I tell you that there is God and you have to worship him, then you will ask where God is. I do not see it. That is why Idols were introduced and temples were built. So that we can focus our mind on God and realize the truth. We leave all our tensions and desires and devote our selves completely to God. That was the aim of introducing the religion. Some of the rituals also were shown so that we can calm our mind and can concentrate on what is real.
On the other hand, spirituality does not tell you where is God. It tells you to search for it. Spirituality does not want you to limit the definition of God only to one statue. It says that everything in this world is God including us. It becomes difficult to grasp it, as from childhood we have been told that God is higher than everything and he sits in the temple. We can never compare ourselves with God. Spirituality says that we are ignorant of our true nature and that is why we believe that God is separate from us. Spirituality asks us to practice meditation and service to other human being through which we can purify ourselves because only the pure one can attain the salvation.
Highest level of experience in both is the same. What we call nirvana in spirituality is described in religion as seeing God. In both of these experiences, you lost your individuality and merge with God for few moments. After these experiences your entire life changes. If you have ever met any pure soul, then you will experience the calmness by just being in their company. Their only message to the world is to spread love and peace. Self-proclaimed religious Gurus say that you have to take many births and you have to go through punishments for all the sins you have done before you have such experience. Spirituality says that you will get the fruit of your Karma. Either in this birth on in the next one. But, Spirituality also says that you can fasten your growth and can attain the enlightenment in one birth if you are really committed for the same.
So which path should we take? If I choose religion, then which religion should I choose? I guess everyone has to make their own decisions. I have experienced that our paths are shown to us only if we are clear in our mind what we want. No religion is bad. Only the people who became the owners of religions are spreading hatred. God never ask you to discriminate or hate anyone. I suggest that you try both and see yourself which one helps you to attain the truth. For me, the real test it to see if the path teaches to love not only God, but all the beings, then it is the real path.