What is the difference between being religious and spiritual?

Last Updated on May 13, 2022

You’ve definitely heard individuals describe their beliefs as “spiritual but not religious,” and questioned what that really meant. Understanding the distinction between spirituality and religion might help you better appreciate what spirituality means to various people. There are many various sorts of spirituality on which people base their ideas, as well as many varied reasons for which people practise spirituality. The majority of us interchange the terms “religion” and “spirituality.” There have historically been two primary routes to discovering these truths from the standpoint of the soul: religion and spirituality. There are contrasts between religion and spirituality, despite the fact that they share many parallels and a relationship.

Defining Spirituality

Spirituality is concerned with one’s inner self and spirit. Being spiritual entails adhering to one’s own set of beliefs and practices while also seeking the meaning of life. Through personal study and self-reflection, each person’s idea of spirituality can change through time, responding to their unique experiences. Spirituality is to help people recognise their innate capacity to overcome life’s obstacles and connect with something bigger than themselves.

Spirituality is a universal, individualised experience that is different for everyone. A spiritual experience can be described as sacred or sublime, simply as a true sensation of aliveness and connectedness, or as pure thankfulness. You can be spiritual while belonging to a religious group, and vice versa.

Indeed, some people’s spirituality may be intimately associated with a religion, while others may have their own unique contact with a higher power. Others look for significance in life by connecting with nature or art. In the dispute between religion and spirituality, neither side is intrinsically good or bad. Religion is narrower and more abstract than spirituality. Spirituality is mainly undefinable, whereas religion has a clear, physical system of ethics. Both of these ways of believing in something, on the other hand, enable people to live happy, meaningful lives.

Defining Religion

Religion is a term used to describe an organisation that has a set of organised activities and a structured belief system that is shared by and among its members. Their transcendental ideas are generally passed down from generation to generation and are based on either a formally written credo or established cultural traditions.

In either case, each religion has professionals who serve in leadership roles and represent formal components of the institution. The leaders frequently perform rituals related to the religion’s essential principles, which serve as the framework for living one’s life. Religion serves as a highly supportive social network because it brings together people who have similar values.

It has practical ramifications for everyday acts that follow the group’s beliefs, rituals, and practices. Religions often have different clothing rules (particularly for religious leaders), moral codes, and acts that are dictated by a supernatural force. A religious individual is dedicated to following their religion’s precepts. He or she follows religious rites and practises, such as attending Sunday church services for Christians, keeping the Sabbath for Jews, and fasting throughout Ramadan for Muslims.

Spirituality vs Religion

Simply defined, spirituality has no rules, whereas religion is entirely dependent on rituals and dogma. Spiritual people have a soul-level connection with themselves and life, and ‘God’ is not an external force as it is in most faiths. The distinction between a spiritual and religious individual is their perspective of God. The concept of God is predetermined, identified, and comes with a set technique for worshipping that God for a religious person. A spiritual person, on the other hand, looks within to discover their truth and discovers God in themselves and all of life.

When it comes to spirituality vs. religion, many people are confused. While both have been shown to have beneficial effects on one’s health, they are not the same. So, what are the major features that distinguish the two? Here are three key factors to remember.

There are no rules to spirituality

Rather than following an ideology or set of laws, a spiritual person often discovers their own truths while developing their spirituality. The experience is usually intimate and takes place in secret, allowing people to trust their instincts and act in their own best interests.

Although some spiritual traditions provide theories and practise to aid people on their spiritual paths, they are not intended to be taken as a system of beliefs. Rather, they’re presented as tools for spiritual seekers to use in order to aid their spiritual development.

Religious people, on the other hand, accept the truth as defined by their faith, and these facts are frequently documented and shared with others. The promise of punishment or reward for keeping beliefs or performing rituals is common in religion. However, the only reward for spirituality is one’s own inner calm.

Spirituality is based only on love and not fear

There is a lot of terror sprinkled throughout religion. Fear of the ramifications of your actions, and of what might happen when you die if you don’t live your life correctly. Spirituality, on the other hand, pushes you to focus all of your energy on the good and to act solely on the basis of love.

This is a crucial topic for me since any decision made out of fear will be detrimental to your soul. Decisions made out of love, on the other hand, will energise you, make you braver, and nourish your spirit. It teaches you how to stand up to fear and continue doing what you believe is right, regardless of the repercussions.

Origination of Beliefs

Spiritual persons frequently learn and grow their beliefs through personal experiences (often through trial and error). This allows people to uncover their own truths without any restrictions on the degree of their knowledge. A religious person, on the other hand, learns or develops their beliefs through the experiences of their religious founders or through parables.

Spirituality enables people to forge their own path, allowing them to embark on their own spiritual journey. Self-discovery is limitless when it comes to spirituality. It encourages people to listen to their hearts and trust their instincts. Spirituality is just the ability to see that everyone is more than a human body—they are a spirit with boundless potential.

Religious individuals learn and develop their ideas based on the experiences of their religious founders, whereas spiritual people learn and develop their views based on their own experiences.


We boost our sense of contentment, tranquillity, and gratitude for the life we have by pursuing the divine—whether from a church pew on a Sunday or on top of a mountain looking at a magnificent sunrise. Religion and spirituality are neither synonymous nor diametrically opposed to one another. “Where do I find meaning in life, and what are my actual values?” one could wonder in spirituality. In religion, questions like “What is the truth?” and “What is right and wrong?” are popular. It’s individual experiences that influence how people think, feel, and act are where the two converge.

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