“I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist.” ~Albert Camus
Many people think that spirituality and religion are one and the same thing. This is far from the truth, however, and now you are going to learn exactly why, by understanding the five core differences between religion and spirituality. So here they are:
1. Religion gives you a dogma – Spirituality allows you to discover the truth
Religion gives you a dogma — a ready-made set of ideologies and rules that you have to believe in and follow in order to find god, salvation, and so on. Religion, in other words, is fundamentally based on blind belief.
Spirituality, on the other hand, does not force upon people any belief system or rules. On the contrary, it lets people to explore and discover the truth for themselves. And although different spiritual traditions might provide theories and practices to help people in their spiritual journey, they are never intended to be taken on belief. They are offered just so spiritual seekers can experiment with and use as tools, if they find that they serve their spiritual growth.
2. Religion teaches you to obey – Spirituality teaches you to follow your inner voice
Religion requires obedience from people — obedience to religious teachers, priests, scriptures, god, etc. Religion teaches people to avoid listening to their own heart and mind, and instead to follow the orders of external authority — that is, to accept and do things they’re told, without ever questioning them.
Spirituality, however, teaches people how to come in touch with their inner voice and use it as a guide for living the good life. This way, spirituality helps people to break free from the shackles of obedience and conformity, as well as to create their own path in life.
3. Religion makes you afraid – Spirituality makes you courageous
One of the fundamental differences between religion and spirituality is that spirituality is helping you to relieve yourself from the burden of fear that you’ve accumulated through cultural conditioning, as well as to awaken your inner warrior, so that you can face and deal with any hardship in life, whereas religion is killing your courage by soaking your mind in fear.
So-called religious people are constantly afraid — afraid of hell, afraid of god, afraid of themselves… in short, afraid of life. No wonder they can’t gather the emotional strength to spontaneously express themselves and “fight” for the life they deep down want to live.
4. Religion turns you into a slave – Spirituality sets you free
As long as you are indoctrinated by religion, you will be intellectually and emotionally suppressed. If, for example, you believe that you are a sinner and any act of yours might lead you to damnation, you will never be able to live care-free in the present moment, and savor all the goodness life has to offer. On the contrary, thinking that an all-seeing god is watching you every moment of your life, you will be under a constant state of fear and desperation.
According to spiritual teachings, each and ever person is a small god, so to speak — a unique, beautiful, powerful manifestation of existence that is truly important to this world — a liberating feeling that cannot be compared to anything else.
5. Religion separates people – Spirituality unites them
When people believe in scriptures that claim their religion is the only word of god, and that all other religions are the work of evil, naturally they can’t be peaceful, loving and compassionate towards those who are affiliated with a different religion. In fact, even people of the same religion are divided, and are constantly fighting among themselves for silly ideological reasons.
Spirituality holds that no matter our ideological differences, all humans are one and the same consciousness expressed in different ways. In other words, our essence is of the same nature and our differences are only superficial — a realization that makes us want to embrace our fellow human beings and walk the path to enlightenment together as friends, by helping one another instead of putting obstacles on each other’s path.
“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” ~Charles Bukowski