7 basic differences between religion and spirituality


In today’s world, people often use religion and spirituality interchangeably. However, there is a fine line which separates the two. Both are the ways to show your faith in an ultimate power but the approach is different.

People mistake spirituality as something related to spirits and supernatural occurrences. Religion is often thought as the worship of a God. There is a deeper meaning to both these terms. If we were to list the difference then we would end up making an endless list. I have tried listing some of the most important ones:

1. The existence of God

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Religion is based on the very idea that God exists. Most religions are based on the belief that God resides in heaven and in order to get to Him, one needs to worship Him and do good deeds. Religions teach us that we should be afraid of God.

Spirituality is the belief in  the existence of an omnipresent spirit. It is unnamed. You need to have inner peace if you want to feel that spirit. It teaches us to embrace the spirit rather than being afraid of it.

Religion requires you to put your faith in a particular being i.e. God. Whereas, spirituality requires you to put your faith in yourself.


2. Rules 

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A Religion has a set of rules that need to be followed by everyone practicing that religion. One cannot question those rules and if one dares to, he/she is regarded as a traitor to the religion. It is often said that the people who abide by all the rules get awarded with heaven.

Spirituality sets you free. There are no prescribed rules and regulations. One needs to follow his/her intuitions. It encourages you to follow your heart. The only award spirituality offers is true happiness.


3. Divide and Unite

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There are so many religions in the world. People are divided by religions. There have been so many instances of religious battles. People all over the world believe that their religion is the best and no other religion should exist. Religion follows the “divide and rule” policy.  A religion is based on several legends and myths.

Spirituality unites people. It connects with you on so many levels. It shows the truth and isn’t biased. It shows us that the fundamentals on which every religion is based are the same. It focuses on the reality and is not based on myths.


4. Fear

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Religions preach that there is an ultimate power called God, residing in the heavens above and everyone should be afraid of Him. Religions instill fear in the minds of people. It instigates people to be afraid of what they will have to suffer in future if they don’t correct their actions.  Anything done out of fear never yields great results.


Spirituality is a journey of your inner self. It instills valor in people. It gives people the courage to fight against all odds. It gives people hope. Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Fear can break a person but hope will keep him/her alive.


5. Consequences

Religions provoke punishment. There are so many people who preach capital punishment in the name of God. It is believed that if one disobeys the God or does not abide by the rules then he/she will be punished. Some religions leave it to their respective Gods to punish the guilty while some take the matter in their hands and impose severe punishment.

Spirituality is based on the concept of “Karma”. It is said, “As you sow, so shall you reap”.  What ever you do, you will get it back. Newton’s Third Law aligns very aptly with spirituality. If you do good deeds, good will happen to you and if you don’t, then even God can’t help you.


6. Individuality 

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Religion divides the world into sects and groups. There are different religions and therefore, people are divided. It leaves no scope for individuality. It makes one dependent on the people and practices of his/her own religion. If one religion practices idol worship then every person who is a follower of that religion would have to do the same otherwise he/she would be seen as an outcast.

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Spirituality sets you free. It makes you believe that you own your life and you do not have to be dependent on anyone or anything to achieve peace. It is based on the principle of individuality. It encourages you to believe that you are the only person responsible for whatever happens with you and you are always at the right place and the right time.


7. The Path

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Religion allows you to follow an already set path. The path to enlightenment or true happiness or to heaven is pre-defined. If you decide to deviate from that path, society will throw you out-of-the-way.

Spirituality, on the other hand, lets you make your own path. It lets you create your own journey.

The path to every religion started with spirituality and the path to spirituality starts from your soul.