Difference between Religious and Spiritual

When one hears the word, religion, there is the automatic assumption that this is a place of God. A physical place where everything is pristine, and everyone there is holy, is righteous, and is graceful.

When one hears the word, spirituality, they associate that word to religion. In fact, those two words are used interchangeably, but the definitions are more contextual.  

Spirituality is firstly felt before it is expressed in a religious setting. The presence of religion gives’ individuals a place to express spirituality within its walls. It is the spiritual mindset that guides the individual to ministerial places.

There is also a difference in output between spiritually-strong people, and religiously-minded people. The difference is that spiritual people exhibit grace in all they do, while the other projects a love for protocol and regulations. Spiritually-inclined people are those who others want to be around for long periods of time, because they are non-judgemental and resourceful. Religiously-focused individuals fail miserably in delivering authentic spirituality and they exhibit deep self-righteousness and rigidness. 

When I was a Christian, I would find myself differentiating between those people whose faith in God was so solid that their auras were enlightening and soothing. I would gravitate toward those people, because I knew that I could confide in them without fear. Then, I could tell who the most religious ones were- those people were devoid of strong spirituality and were mean-spirited and worldly. 

Spirituality is so deeply rooted in an individual that it shines with no hate or no devices attached. Spiritual people are very mellifluous and they project that understanding into the world in humane ways. They are welcoming, approachable, and personable. These are the kinds of people with whom you can have deep conversations with, and they will give emphatic advice.

Spirituality is intrinsic, internal, while the most religious ones are still attached to the physical world. The latter battles between the physical world and embracing the omnipresence of God. Spiritual people are fearless and move with assurance that the Creator guides them, and expects them to walk without fear. To the spiritual person, the material world is a temporary place that requires some attention, whereas their relationship with the Creator yields greater satisfaction. 

Religious people live life on the surface. They may say God’s name;perhaps the name of Jesus or another deity, but their focus is recruitment. They want everyone they meet to join into their respective religion so much that they fail to use love and care. Also, they tend to be highly hubris in the messages of doctrines and they view those ideas as definite words of God. Furthermore, aiming to engage with them in critical ways’ invokes frustration and illogicality from them. 

Acts of the Religious Ones:

We all have people in our lives who invoke God’s name but fail to do God’s work. They live in a web where they are trapped in worldly ways, which are stopping them from being humble servants. Because of that floundering, they unleash confused versions of ancient writings and meanings as part of their agendas. 

Think of the self-righteousness we see in American conservatives, who claim Christianity in words, but not in action. They are quick to admonish others while celebrating racist policies and ignoring issues such as poverty, guns, income inequality, etc. These individuals are struggling between being devotees of Christianity and understanding God. Instead of working to discuss and correct social issues; they simply remain entrenched more in geo-political conclusions rather than creating alternatives to social problems. Interestingly, the entire story of Jesus is about problem-solving, and using compassion and love to mitigate pain and discomfort. 

The situation between Buddhists and Rohinga Muslims that has been unfolding in the country of Myanmar, is also another example of religious people lacking spirituality. Buddhism has 5-precepts, which are:

  • Refrain from taking life. Not killing any living being
  • Refrain from taking what is not given. Not stealing from anyone
  • Refrain from the misuse of the senses. Not having too much sensual pleasure
  • Refrain from wrong speech. Not lying or gossiping about other people
  • Refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country and they are destroying the lives of an ethnic minority called the Rohinga Muslims. Images of Muslims families have been repeatedly shown as their lives are embroiled in chaos that is initiated by the Government of Myanmar. One haunting image of a mother cradling her dead baby is one of many pictures, which are giving the world a view of the genocide that is happening. Other visuals are of families with children having to migrate to avoid further persecution.

The presence of these different religions remain problematic as they continuously vaunt about peace and love, or God while practicing evil in the world. This remains the greatest paradox as religious people tend to openly profess and claim their religion of choice as validation for who they are. The questions which are posed by many who try to comprehend the existence of religions are: How is it that the most religious people can take part in the most destructive, and cruel actions toward others? Why are religious people taking part in political and socio-economic concepts which are destroying the livelihoods of people in the global outreach?

Those erroneous acts of hate from religious people are an enigma to many. Furthermore, the conundrum between practicing with a religion but failing in spirituality is even more confusing. There seems to be a detachment from the profoundness that spirituality offers to the practices of the rituals and the norms of religions. This deviation from peace upsets the most spiritually-inclined person who sometimes’ halts worshipping with a religion. It is the actions of people who are supposed to be morally upright in everything they do, but lack consistency in all they do. This creates distrust and questioning as to the validity of religions and their dogmas.

Consequently, it is humanity that suffers as denominations continue to preach denominational messages which they claim are beneficial.  Ironically, the trajectory of those lessons in the real world depicts’ actions of chaos.