I have carefully considered this topic in greater detail because I have been involved with many persons who attend church and will not give it a second thought to respond that they were christians if they were asked about their religion.
So what exactly is Religion? What is Spirituality? and how do these differ one from the other?
Religion and spirituality are among the most important cultural factors that give purpose and meaning to human values, behaviors, and experiences . Spirituality is derived from a latin word – spiritualitas, meaning “breath” . It can be very personal with an individual experiential element to it.
Personally, I believe spirituality is the yearning arising from deep within a human for a sense of connection or connectedness with a supernatural being that can bring a sense of completeness, integration and often a sense of wholeness.
This lends to the notion that there is a ‘void’ in humans and the personal search to fill this void is embodied in spirituality. This concept lies within every human being. Spirituality influences our core values and belief systems. It forms a ‘lens’ through which we view the outer world and how we live our daily lives. The very sense of ‘an integrated self’ lies deep within the meaning of spirituality. Connecting with ones spirituality gives a sense of meaning and purpose to life.
Religion on the other hand can be viewed as the culturally acceptable way of expressing this yearning within a group who share similar beliefs.
Most of the major religious groups do share the concept of spirituality albeit with some permutations.
By reason of our definition of Spirituality, little wonder how our spirituality can have overbearing impact on healing whether physical or mental health disorders. In a way, our spirituality brings about inner healing by reason of the sense of acceptance and integration of the whole self, spirit soul and body as well as the reliance on the transcendence of connectedness to a Higher being.
Just merely belonging to a sub cultural group like a church or temple does not in itself make us qualify as either religious or spiritual.
See the part 2 of this discussion to see just how our spirituality can be effectual in our lives.