Are You Spiritual or Religious?

There are times when people feel conflicted and feel that they have to choose between the religious denomination they belong to and spiritual practices that they may be drawn to. Some of my clients tell me that they feel similarly conflicted – they feel that by choosing to follow a spiritual path they are somehow betraying their faith and their community. I tell them that they have no reason to feel conflicted. Religion and spirituality are not antithetical to each other. In fact, they could well complement each other. Let me explain how all the world’s major religions do in fact have their roots in spirituality with the story of the Buddha.

Did you know the Buddha was a Prince?

The ascetic founder of Buddhism was born a prince who had never seen any kind of poverty or suffering for the first few decades of his life. His was a life of escapism, of luxury, and of plenty – until one day when he saw things that changed his life forever. He saw old age, death, sickness, and an ascetic – this is important and Buddhists call this the Four Sights.

This had such a profound impact on the young prince that he left the palace in the middle of the night and renounced everything. He then wandered around – it was his spiritual quest – until he found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. I explain more about the story of the Prince-ascetic in this episode. The point of the story is that the man who founded the religion of Buddhism started out on a personal spiritual quest and went on to create the fourth-largest religion in the world. And I would imagine that Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammad also had similar spiritual experiences that drew their followers to them.

Religion and spirituality – how they are different and similar.

The way I see it, spirituality is personal, religion is community or group-based. Spiritual practice is you creating your own special, personal and unique bond with the universal energy. Religion is you doing the same thing along with many others in a way that your faith prescribes. Religion has places of worship, rituals, identity markers or markers of faith, and a congregation element.

These are ways in which religion and spirituality differ, but there are many ways in which they are the same as well. Both are meant to help us create inner peace for ourselves. Both help us connect to the infinite power of the universe; the almighty in their own ways. Both help us to differentiate between wrong and right – helping us to listen to our own truth, our own conscience. So really, you get to choose which path you want to take – it is as simple and as beautiful as that!

Join me in this episode as I share my own personal spiritual practices with you, and help you through the religion vs. spirituality

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