"Religion is belief is someone else's experiences. Spirituality is having your own experiences." – Deepak Chopra (Author & Speaker).
Mixing spirituality and religion is an ancient practice. For some reason, it is always easier to accept things when they come with the force of religion. Unfortunately, comparing spirituality and religion, is like comparing chalk and cheese! If you read the above quote carefully, you will see exactly what I mean. As stated above, religion is belief in someone else's experiences. No single religion in the world, has its basis on universal experiences. They were all founded on the experiences of someone, who lived centuries or even millennia ago! When nobody contested the claims, it was slowly made into a law and finally religion was born.
Spirituality on the other hand, is purely individual experience based. No two people are the same and neither are their experiences. Hence spirituality can mean different things to different people.
Till date, there is no fixed definition of spirituality. But one thing is certain. Spirituality comes from within. It cannot be forced, explained nor manipulated.
Renowned spiritual leader and yoga guru, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, gave the following explanation when asked about his opinion on spirituality:
"Spirituality does not mean any particular practice. It is a certain way of being. To get there, there are many things to do. This is like a garden in your house. If the soil, sunlight or stem of a plant is in a certain way, it won't yield flowers, you have to do something. You have to take care of those things. So if you cultivate your body, mind, emotions and energies to a certain level of maturity, something else blossoms within you – That is what spirituality is. When your rationale is immature, it doubts everything. When your rationale matures, it sees everything in a completely different light. "
As quoted by Sadhguru, spirituality cannot be practiced. It is an experience you go through. Spirituality is a journey, not a destination. With every single experience you grow and become a better version of yourself. Spirituality can be knowledge and knowledge is power. If harnessed appropriately, spirituality can be a potent force. It can take us from our ordinary existence to an extraordinary living.
Let us look at the importance of spirituality in a person's life.
Importance of spirituality:
1. It gives meaning to life
Spirituality has the power to give meaning to life. We all become used to a certain routine which we follow blindly, not realizing when we stop living and start existing.
Spirituality is the essence of holistic living. It takes life and experiences to a whole new level of meaning and understanding.
2. Inspires and Motivates
Spiritual practices have the power to inspire and motivate you. When we have spiritual routines or experiences, we find new reasons and get energized. An inspired person will succeed much more than one who has no inspiration.
3. Make healthier life choices
When we are spiritually awakened, we see life as more than just an opportunity. We see it as a responsibility. We take sound decisions and make healthier life choices. It has been scientifically proven that people who are spiritually inclined make better choices.
We know ourselves very superficially. We have absolutely no idea who we really are from within. That essential self-awareness is created through spirituality. As mentioned spirituality is an inner process. It involves knowing oneself from within. This knowledge of oneself is essential, if we are to live life well.
5. Helps achieve the highest potential
Spirituality helps us reach our highest potential, as we are more in tune with our capabilities. When we become aware of ourselves, we gain knowledge of all that we are capable of doing. With this knowledge, we can chart our course in a manner which will help us harness maximum potential.
There is a major myth that believing in God or any supernatural force, makes you spiritual. This is not true in any sense. Because an atheist and a theist are not different. One believes there is God, another believes there is no God. Both of them are believing something that they do not know.
Spirituality does not need you to believe in God. It requires self-belief. Belief in oneself, one's potential and one's being, is all that it takes.
Spirituality cannot be taught. You can learn Yoga and religion from a Guru. But spirituality is purely a personal experience. It is something that will come to you when you align your mind, body and soul.
Another myth is that you need to go to some mountain top or some waterfront in order to have a spiritual experience. This again is not true. Think of it like this.
Mountains seem like a beautiful experience, to those who don't live surrounded by mountains. Ask people who live there, they will tell you it is nothing extraordinary! For them, the city maybe a spiritual experience!
Spirituality is the breaking of the barrier within you. It is about coming out of this shell or walls you built around you and allowing the positivity of the world to enter you.
To end, I would like to quote the Dalai Lama, who said, "We can never make peace with the outer world, unless we make peace with ourselves!"