Can one be spiritual without being religious and vice versa? An increasing population believes so. Here’s how and why the differentiation came into being.
Before we get down to deciding the relationship between religiousness and spirituality, it is important to define these terms. For the most part, different groups may have different definitions.
There is ample room for debate around this topic. But to make matters simpler, we’ll use the theories set by one of the most distinguished philosophers of the decade, Ken Wilber, also known as the Einstein of Consciousness Research.
According to some recent surveys conducted by different organizations, an increasing proportion of people regard themselves as “spiritual but not religious”. This difference stems from difference of opinions and perceptions about the truth. Here’s how Ken Wilber explains why this is possible.
How True Is The Truth?
There are two kinds of truths; the relative truth that appeals to certain masses but not to all, and the absolute truth which can also be regarded as the universal truth. For most people, religiousness falls under the first category while spirituality is considered as the absolute truth.
According to most people who have been on the roads to self-discovery, spirituality is the only truth which seems to resonate with every soul. Deep down, spirituality makes you feel at peace with yourself and your surroundings, enabling you to overcome physical barriers in order to transcend into another dimension of reality.
This is a sensation common for the spiritual masses, establishing it as an absolute truth. It helps you see beyond the materialistic possessions, realizing the real purpose of your existence and the special pathway ordained by the Greater Being.
On the other hand, religions are prone to conflicts and disagreements. There are over 20 religions practiced all over the world, and this doesn’t include the sects or variations that have come about with time. Most religions hold on to some specific stories of the history, which, for all we know, might have been altered as they were forwarded through the generations.
These stories pose a relative truth, where the subjects and objects are distinctively separate and hence cannot establish a concrete reality. It is relative because everyone does not resonate with these truths in the same way! This is also the reason why we have 20+ religions in the first place!
This, incidentally, also marks the line of differentiation between spirituality and religiousness. And as per these definitions, the two elements can be mutually exclusive. Spirituality makes it easier to follow organized religion because it makes you open to realities and possibilities, helping you find solace in a structured way of life. For a spiritual person, religion does not restrict; it liberates!
Spiritual VS. Religious
Isn’t it ironic that while “spirituality” and “religiousness” seem to have similar connotations, they are being differentiated when it comes to practice? How did this difference come into being in the first place? Or was it mutually exclusive all along?
The truth is, the philosophers and philanthropists seldom tried to differentiate between the two terms previously. Spirituality and religiousness were closely linked, even inseparable! However, as the norms and practices changed, their definitions evolved, enabling masses to treat both experiences differently.
These days, we restrict religions to the acts of prayers, discussions about religious histories, talks about the Oneness and Infiniteness of God, and other similar activities that were endorsed by our elders through action.
Religion these days has become synonymous with actions and beliefs. It is no longer about the spiritual journey on the road of self-discovery. Religion has been given an exclusively material expression, the one which makes it different from spirituality.
Since the time “religiousness” was redefined, it has become possible for people to be “spiritual without being religious” and vice versa. If truth be told, separating spirituality from religiousness renders each experience incomplete.
You cannot approach the relative truth with a distorted version of the absolute truth. With self-actualization and self-discovery, it is difficult to grasp the abstract nature and the massive depth of religion.
You may practice everything like your forefathers did, but it will not be a source of peace and satisfaction till you are aware about your own realities as an inhabitant of life!
The journey through life is a brief one. We’re all born to die. The real achievement in life is to fulfill your destiny before being absorbed by the spirits of the universe.
Like the wise people say, there’s a reason for everything. Spirituality enables you to identify this reason — the purpose of your existence — despite the worldly clutter. Religiousness helps you channel this realization constructively to achieve a holistic, all-encompassing victory!