Archive for March, 2021

Religion and Spirituality – Is There Really a Difference?

March 7th, 2021

When it comes to spirituality and religion, I sometimes think of why there is a distinction made. After all, both those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, and those who consider themselves religious but not spiritual maintain that there are differences. Then, there are those who consider themselves both spiritual and also religious. Even these like to separate the two. It seems very few really say “Well, spirituality and religion are basically the same thing.” Maybe it’s because it’s the truth. Maybe not.

My understanding of the difference that is generally accepted, is that spirituality is a more personal definition where you come to your own conclusions about what you feel is spiritual. While, religion is an organized group that pretty much teaches or tells you what is the truth regarding faith, the soul and God. Another difference I often hear is that people who consider themselves spiritual, often don’t acknowledge that they believe in a God, just a feeling that there is something spiritual beyond the material world we live in.

But, can you really believe in a soul or spiritual world without believing in a supreme being or God? Well, there are some definitions of religion which are much more general and besically refer to religion as a “worldview” based on your beliefs. This can mean just about anything and in my opinion makes the difference between spirituality and religion less defined. You can have a set of beliefs and a worldview that don’t include a supreme being and also aren’t part of an organized group. So maybe a religion can also have a singular, personal and individual definition. Perhaps it should be this way because we are talking about beliefs and faith. These are feelings and not concrete scientific facts. If there were facts then of course it wouldn’t be a faith.

While it seems reasonable for someone to say “I am spiritual, but I don’t believe in God.”, does it also seem reasonable for someone to say “I am religious, but I don’t believe in a God.”? According to some definitions, this seems to be a reasonable statement also, although at first it doesn’t sound logical.

I haven’t come to any conclusion at this point as to whether there is a diff

Five Similarities Between Religion and Spirituality

March 7th, 2021

When we were children we were asked, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If we based our answer on the creation story in the Bible, we would answer, Chicken. But if we based our answer on our experience in raising chickens, our answer would be, Egg.

The same can be said of the answer to the question, Which came first, Religion or Spirituality?

In terms of our experience with religious books and discussions, religion came first. It is only now that more and more people are talking about spirituality and writing about it. In terms of the origin of the reality behind those words or in terms of the object of our understanding, spirituality came first. The spirit was there before there was any religion. God was there before there was anybody to worship him.

We can even say that spirituality is an offshoot of religion. For many centuries people professed religion. Some of them fiercely opposed religions other their own. Christians for many centuries opposed paganism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other religion. This has happened also with paganism, Islam, and the rest with respect to the other religions. They too opposed other religions.

But more and more people discover that mere religion cannot answer their deeper yearning for a better experience of life. So, they turned to something deeper and better than religion. They found this in spirituality.

Because spirituality in a sense is an offshoot of religion, there is bound to be some similarity between them, just like the similarity between the egg and the chicken.

First, both believe in a higher power of some kind. Religion believes in God the Father or Jesus, or Allah, or Brahman, or Tao. Spirituality believes also in this God or it may conceive of God as a universal or primal energy. Both believe that such being possesses power higher and greater than what we have.

Secondly, both religion and spirituality desire to have a relationship with this higher power. Although the nature of the relationship is different in religion than in spirituality, the desire for this relationship is there. Religion connects with this higher power with fear and trembling. Spirituality connects with this higher power with love and affection.

Thirdly, both religion and spirituality have rituals and practices which deepen one’s religiosity or spirituality. Religion usually has sacred rites or sacraments. Spirituality has meditation or yoga sessions.

Fourthly, both have respect for the sacred, the other worldly. This is not just respect for God. This is respect for the reality that is beyond our senses and reason. When religion pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes superstition. When spirituality pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes religious spirituality.

Fifthly, both have fear of failure. In religion this failure is punished by hell fire or repetition of existence or some other worse fate. In spirituality this failure is the inability to realize one’s true worth or value and the destiny of a life of meaninglessness. Hell, repetition of existence, non-existence, meaninglessness are forms of punishment for failure, either in religion or in spirituality.

Jose Bulao, a lay Carmelite, wants to help you attain a higher degree of spirituality. He is a Carmelite formator