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Whats the difference between religion and spirituality to you?

Updated on January 16, 2009

An interesting question...

 That could be filled with reflective thoughts and have as much seeming depth as a mirror reflecting back the image of another mirror.

I've heard it said, and feel that this definition is what works best for me:

 "Religion is for those who don't want to go to hell. Spirituality is for those that have been through hell."

I feel spirituality is a respect for all things. If you don't believe the universe is living and breathing what do you consider the wind? Spirituality isn't about churches or ceremonies. Spiritual people can/ do have a belief in something greater than themselves whether you call it a God, or an ever present spirit, or what have you.

But there is something there, something that gives you inner peace, enlightenment, and the belief that there is something more after all this.

Most religions regardless of how many deities, or the names given to what is worshipped have pretty much the same central ideologies, and most religious concepts are mirrored images of each other. Christianity of spread pretty much by war, and force by over the top zealots or if you prefer "true believers" and probably viewed the way some are viewing the ideological spread of the Islamic radicle of today. Oddly when boiled down to it's true core both religions are very similar. Both of course, are very much open to everyone own interpretations. And with most religions there are many factions and brunches, because no one can agree with any one true way of understanding "the message."

From a religious point of view I personally subscribe to this quote from the Dali Lama, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."  When asked if he would even consider convert to christianity, Ghandi responsed with, "If I had ever met one, I would have become one."

Ghandi was saying "show me, don't tell me." You may think he wasn't well verse in the Christian religion; but it is a well known fact that Mahatma Ghandi read from the New Testament everyday, and often quoted from it.

In my small mind to explain the vastness of spirituality and religion is almost infinitely imporbable. Many times through both intertwine, over-lap and connect. We become what we celebrate.

The other problem is spirituality kind of recieved a bad rap, because there are those who confuse spirituality and spiritualism. Spiritualism was all the rage in Victorian times. Spiritualism was the use of psychics, and séances. I'll think I will leave that topic to the professionals.

Overall religion is structure, and spirituality is less confining. Spirituality is more of a respect of all things and everything. Spirituality is more of a "do it your way." Religion has leaders to "guide" you, and whether you like it or not is big, no huge business. Money, Money, Money...Funny, didn't Jesus Christ lose his temper in a temple over that very reason?

Oh, and one more side note....have you ever notice how most of the great leaders of teaching peace have died violently? Christ, Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., John Lennon for examples...just a coincidance or a message to the world that we should have listened more to these messengers?

Kindness, Love, Respect and Peace to all and everyone. Believe in what is right for you, and respect others ideologies in return. Always extend a hand to those in need...and learn to coexist with your neighbor.

Be Blessed and Be Thankful

"My Sweet Lord" by Goerge Harrison


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  • karengibsonroc profile image

    Karen Gibson Roc 6 years ago from Los Angeles

    love the simpleness of how you describe what you believe to be the difference between spirituality and religion...i love it..peace and blessings


  • bruzzbuzz profile image

    bruzzbuzz 7 years ago from Texas , USA

    Great hub. I like to think that spirituality is what we all should aspire to and religion is an organized push toward it.

  • profile image

    Peter Dolding 7 years ago

    Spirituality is how you live.

    Religion is how you are told to live

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 8 years ago from I'm outta here

    How well put, to say the least. I LOVE the part about don't want to go to hell and have been through hell. This is so true. I loved this and look forward to reading more. I think you might like my peice on ego. Peace :) Katie

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    One more thanks is due you, St. James, from one who has found spirituality much more suitable than organized religion.

  • profile image

    \Brenda Scully 8 years ago

    I really like this hub....My poor sister lost her life through depression and alcoholism, and when I went to alanon, I was surprised how much they referred to a higher power...... You have a great style to your writing...

  • St.James profile image

    St.James 8 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Thank you Miracles02... You're Humble Opinion seems to fit most of the thoughts expressed here.

  • miracles02 profile image

    miracles02 8 years ago from Canton, IL

    Excellent hub St James!! Spirituality is for those who have been through true! Another one I wholeheartedly agree with is Spirituality is more of a respect of all things and everything. Absolutely! So much of religion is structure, rules, commandments...IMHO, religion does NOT respect all things and everything.

  • St.James profile image

    St.James 9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Thank you William! abundence and peace to you.

  • Williamjordan profile image

    Williamjordan 9 years ago from Houston TX

    Great Hub I like the Quote about spiritually it's so true people who been to hell and escape learn what it means to be spiritual.Hubber's Rule

  • St.James profile image

    St.James 9 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Thank you!

  • Teresa McGurk profile image

    Sheila 9 years ago from The Other Bangor

    The Dalai Lama just makes me grin with joy. Kindness/compassion/love is all you need. Rock on, Buddha-dude!

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    The first quote sums it up for me!

  • Tom Rubenoff profile image

    Tom Rubenoff 9 years ago from United States

    I like the connection between spirituality and place that you make at the end. Organized religeon attempts to create such a place, but so often fails. When it succeeds, however, it can be very spiritually powerful.

  • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

    Cindy Lawson 9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

    Excellent hub St James and it is clear from your description of spirituality how close it is to Paganism, both of which feel truly comfortable to me, whereas organised religion such as the RCC and Church of England do not. I too loved your first quote about fearing hell, or having been through Hell, and I am definitely a prime candidate for the latter. Good work, thumbs up :)

  • foxility profile image

    foxility 9 years ago

    The first quote explains it all.

  • Lifebydesign profile image

    Lifebydesign 9 years ago from Australia

    You made some good points- that religion does have more structure than spirituality per se, and that Christianity and Islam at their core are very similar. In fact all the major religions share the same spiritual priniciples (love your neighbour and variations of that for example) but the social laws differ as we progress. Great hub!

    ParadigmShift, perhaps some of the traditional beliefs are also valid for those tribes - in fact I'm certain they are and would not mean they're excluded out of heaven or anything just because they didn't have access. As a Baha'i we believe religion is a progressive revelation - it comes when its needed, and is renewed constantly albeit over thousands of years. But the source is the same, and inherently the message is the same. But yes, the interpretations and definitions by man are, well I suppose that's what its all about learning and investigating, and going back to the original without our own filters. :-)

  • ParadigmShift... profile image

    ParadigmShift... 9 years ago from San Jose, CA

    Interesting. I think spirituality allows you to have "your own" relationship with God (in any likeness) and religion makes you have "their" relationship with God as they see fit. My biggest issue with organized religion is that it is defined by man, and not God.

    God gave us free will, so we have the ability to choose how we relate to him, and maybe our way is good, for us. But then we turn to the next guy and tell him "this is the only right way to do it" and thus take away HIS right to choose.

    So if there is only one true religion and everyone not following that path goes to hell, then where does that leave me if I'm born to some small tribe indigenous to a third world country, and I live my entire life never having any exposure to the modern world, left to believe in whatever I happen to be taught? What if Christians or Catholics, or Buddhists or whatever, never made it out to my little tribe to "convert" us? Does that mean I go to hell by default? Why would God do such a thing? You see my point?

  • froggy15 profile image

    froggy15 9 years ago from Caro, Michigan

    Interesting James, I like the way you think. For some reason I'm reminded of what Jesus said to the wealthy man when asked what he must do to folow him.

    "Go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor". Hmmm, perhaps Christ would have been a proponent of redistribution of wealth.

  • goldentoad profile image

    goldentoad 9 years ago from Free and running....

    Some more good words. I like that first quote. Spirituality is for those who have been through hell. Open their eyes, James, open their eyes.