Religion and Spirituality – the practical distinctions

Religion and Spirituality are both trying to help us live a more fullfiled life.

Religion asks you to learn from the experience of others. Spirituality urges you to seek your own.

Neale Donald Walsch

Many people believe it is the same thing.

Some believe that these two could never go together.

The debate is escalating quickly, especially these days.

In the search for more personal meaning, individuals are questioning old Religious beliefs.

I have come across this debate multiple times too. That is why I decided to make things more clear.

In this article, you will find how Religion and Spirituality overlap with each other. Also, ‘the good’ and ‘the not so good’ sides of both systems. 

I write this article because I think that Religion and Spirituality are often misunderstood. A person could reject Spirituality entirely just because of his contact with Religion. Even a more sensitive issue arises when Religion and Spirituality try to explain what God is. If we have a basic understanding of the two, we can choose freely.

In no way do I want to praise spiritual people.

And in no way, I want to target religious people.

I believe that everyone is their truth, and there are different people.

This article is more of my personal life experience and point of view.

Where Religion and Spirituality overlap

Many paths, but the end is the same.

Religion and Spirituality differences and similarities
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This is how I describe – Religion and Spirituality each in one sentence:

Religion encourages you to explore the thoughts of others and accept them as your own.

Spirituality invites you to toss away the thoughts of others and come up with your own.

They are very different at first glance. But the Goal of Religion and Spiritually is practically identical.

Religion and Spirituality help us attain a deeper understanding of ourselves, our place in the universe, and our relationship to the divine.

And both can have a substantial positive impact on our wellbeing and relationship with others.

They even have very similar ideas and practices:

  • Prayer and meditation.
  • Religious and Spiritual fasting practices.
  • Sin and Karma.
  • In Christianity’s case, Jesus was the messiah. For spiritual seekers, he was the Ascended master.
  • Though differently, Religion and Spirituality believe in the law of attraction.
  • Going to heaven or hell can be seen as reaching enlightenment or forgetting who you are as a soul.

The similarities are countless.

If we took two people, one Religious, the other spiritual, and asked them to describe a profound mystical experience they had, the stories would be very alike.

What is most important, both Religion and Spirituality believe in a greater power, which is easiest defined by God.

The difference is that many religions make a particular image of God, sometimes even giving him/her a name.

While God in Spirituality can be unlimited: God, the source, the divine, nature, universal laws, infinite spiral whatever you believe.

Many spiritual seekers believe that God is within us. Therefore we can become God.

My understanding of God changed a lot too. For a long time, I could not use God’s word for myself. It was because of a particular Religion I grew up in. But now, I can say I love God freely. God is infinite and very personal for me.

What is Spirituality

Religion is an agreement between a group of people about what God is. Spirituality is a one-on-one relationship.

Steve Earle

Spirituality is a large concept with room for numerous perspectives.

Spirituality has no boundaries

In general, it is about the connection to something greater.

It is about growth and expansion, finding everlasting joy, seeing the connection between everything, improvement, answering profound questions.

What is your highest purpose?

Why are you here?

What is the meaning of life?

What is true happiness?

I answered these questions to myself with the help of Spirituality.

Continuous growth is the most most important in life. It makes our journey meaningful.

And there is no more profound growth than spiritual growth. 

With the help of it, we can improve in many ways and forms:

  • physically
  • emotionally
  • mentally
  • sexually
  • spiritually
  • artistically
  • lovingly
  • connecting with nature
  • professionally
  • And much more.

Whatever makes us conscious, help us expand, gives us Love, can connect to Spiritually.

Most important, Spirituality is very personal. Every person has a unique Spirituality.

And even we find similar qualities like Love, kindness, consciousness, connection, letting go, being healthy. Even these qualities are at different levels and of varying importance to people.

Everyone lives with individual struggles, challenges, goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

Spirituality will always succeed because it comes to believing in your own experience.

And your own experience is always the most important

There is only you. There is only your reality. No one else on this planet experienced what you did.

This experience is the basis of who you are. It is a set of individual beliefs. 

Always choose your own experience in regards to others.

Always question everything that life presents you.

If you live a life like this, soon you will know personal core values.

You will know your unique Spirituality.

It can genuinely make you happy and fulfilled.

That is why Spirituality is so appealing.

It becomes creative in the perception of who we want to become. 

Explore any ideas for making your life better!

Moreover, the spiritual process is a constant inquiry. It is a way of digging deeper into your self-experience, not someone else.

The ‘other’ side of Spirituality

Spirituality is not always light and Love.

Lucky are those to whom Spirituality comes naturally.

Spirituality is a lifelong journey that usually requires hard work.

And in that journey, you will face a lot.

You might go through darkness and light. 

All your traumas and inner demons might surface.

You might become lonely, egoistic, doubtful, lost.

All the things that seem opposite to the ideas of Spirituality.

But it is necessary for our healing.

Only when we face our shadow side, we can truly heal.

It is a not so pleasant journey for many of us.

But, I can say from my personal experience.

It is well worth it. Because if we see through the unpleasant times, eventually we see the light.

Of course, the journey never ends. But it becomes much more exciting when we heal.

The noble side of Religion

Religion is very different from Spirituality.

But it also has many fantastic sides to it.

In my understanding, the best side of Religion is the community.

Community is the greatest thing that brings us a sense of belonging. Community is how we grow Love, kindness, and understanding.

For years, Religion gave us the answers which science could not back up at the time.

It shaped our understanding of the world and gave comfort to people. 

I also believe that the roots of Religion are fundamental. Those are the same roots as Spirituality. 

There is much to learn from it. And the knowledge is well explained, makeing it easy to understand.

When we look at the old scriptures of Religions, we find a profound esoteric knowledge.

Unfortunately, Religion changed over thousands of years.

Some believe that the essential teachings at one point became hidden.

I know Religion can make us better human beings in many ways.

But only in the case if we do not follow these traditions blindly. We have to use self-inquiry and keep searching for what works best for us.

What Religion takes away from us

Through the years, many religions diverged from their original message.

It became not personal but an organized set of beliefs.

Many would even say that it was changed to handle people, to make decisions for them.

Religions, in a way, take freedom from people to explore other beliefs. It takes away from full human spiritual experience.

Confidence without clarity may be the easiest way for people because it takes out the hard work. 

Religion is about believing in a particular story, a specific narrative, and then following it without questioning.

Some religious beliefs wouldn’t even let people from outside to enter their sacred spaces. 

All of this creates separation between people.

Ultimately, Religion is about believing in someone else’s experience, exploring others’ thoughts, and accepting them as your own. 

To a certain extent, Religions deny Spirituality. Because the latter is the opposite – using personal judgment.

There are infamous beliefs of Christianity, stating that Yoga might bring out demons in people. (rarely heard now)

Another way Religion falls from the original message is spreading fear instead of Love.

In some extreme cases, they even use it to rage war.

Religions conclude that if we do not behave in a certain way, we will go to hell.

In my opinion, it is very contradictory to my image of God.

I understand that if God created everything, She made the ”bad” too.

All is God’s creation. 

Religions would argue that is why humans have free will.

But what is free will if we have set rules, commandments, which we have to follow. If we do not follow these behaviors, we will go for eternity to hell.

For me, it is not a definition of free will that God gave us.


Religion and Spirituality are very different at their core.

The first uses other people’s stories and experiences.

The second only uses your personal experience.

Both beliefs are right as long as the end goal is the same.

Religion can make our search easier. Spirituality can make it very individual.

My advice if we choose any road of these. Never to follow it blindly and never put yourself into a frame. 

A systematic approach is sometimes useful, but there is still a wast world of experiences to explore.

You can always find something new that might just make more sense for you. And you don’t have to quit your old beliefs.

What is your personal experience With Religion and Spirituality?

Leave a comment below.

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