Religion Vs Spirituality.


‘Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience. Atheism is no experience, only measurement.’
~ Deepak Chopra.

As most of my readers know, I call myself a Vedantin. Vedanta is the system of philosophy that develops the ideas in the Upanishads that reality is a single principle, Brahman, and teaches that the aspirant’s goal is to transcend the limitations of self-identity and realize one’s unity with Brahman.

As I have maintained elsewhere a number of times, there is nothing called Hinduism. The word Hindu was originally given to the people who lived in the land where the river Indus flows. That is now Pakistan.

The word Hindu does not appear anywhere in our Vedas, Puranas or other material. The nearest definition of what we follow in India is Sanatana Dharma.  There is thus no question of Hinduism being a religion.

The way an Indian approaches the divine is left entirely up to her/him. There is no central authority, no dogma, no compulsory rituals, nothing. It is totally anarchic, arbitrary and voluntary. A Sanatana Dharmi can see the Divine in a stone or a pillar and will hold all creation in awe.

I am therefore someone who can be called as a spiritualist rather than a follower of a religion. The highest authority of Indian jurisprudence, our Supreme Court has just held that Hindutva as it has come to be known is a way of life and not a religion.

The Sanatana Dharmi accepts that Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti.

So, while Religion if someone wants to follow, is also acceptable in the Indian scheme of things, the ultimate goal is to become a spiritualist. The reasoning is that Religion is needed for personalities that are predominantly emotional and Spirituality is for the intellectual types that reason reality and reach Brahman.

Today’s topic for the weekly Friday LBC posts was suggested by me. You can see what the other two bloggers in the LBC, Shackman and Pravin have to say in their respective blogs.

21 thoughts on “Religion Vs Spirituality.”

  1. “The reasoning is that Religion is needed for personalities that are predominantly emotional and Spirituality is for the intellectual types that reason reality and reach Brahman.”

    I gave up Catholicism when I was a teen, and looked for my own spiritual path. I found it, and a big part of it is keeping my ego out of the way but it doesn’t involve trying to reach Brahman. It’s just being mindful of the miracles in life, the miracle of life. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” In May, 2008 I wrote about Slipping Into Sacred Space, and you later commented on it: “… I call it being in the ‘flow’, and nothing else, as why reinvent the wheel?” It’s not reinventing the wheel — some people are in the flow without that spiritual connection, that experience of miracle.
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Autumn

    1. Fair enough. I have revisited your 2008/2010 post through the link and after six plus years still maintain that I called it being in the flow for my experiences, not yours. Being in the flow is a more readily acceptable nomenclature than being in a spiritual flow. That is all. Being mindful of the miracles in life, the miracle of life are also as valid experiences as being in the flow of any kind. I agree with Thich Nhat Hanh.

  2. Interesting to learn of others belief systems. I have a great deal of problem with labels as they are, and have been, abused and misused so many times — though they can serve a useful purpose — but that can be a complicated discussion. With that in mind, I will say I feel most comfortable and at one with the universe in the simplicity and quiet of nature’s natural environment.
    joared recently posted..BASEBALL DILEMMA

  3. “Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience” Amen to that. I’ve never understood why some people can only live their lives according to what someone else wrote many centuries ago, rather than their own morality and common sense.

    But I don’t agree that atheism is no experience. I don’t see why you can’t have a sense of spirituality and at the same time not believe in God.
    nick recently posted..Goodbye, dating

    1. I love this definition of religion:

      the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
      “ideas about the relationship between science and religion”
      synonyms: faith, belief, worship, creed; More
      sect, church, cult, denomination
      “the freedom to practice their own religion”
      a particular system of faith and worship.
      plural noun: religions
      “the world’s great religions”
      a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
      “consumerism is the new religion”

      Middle English (originally in the sense ‘life under monastic vows’): from Old French, or from Latin religio(n-) ‘obligation, bond, reverence,’ perhaps based on Latin religare ‘to bind.’
      Translate religion to
      Use over time for: religion

      I agree with Nick, millions of people have a sense of spirituality without believing in a god. Buddhism is a great example.
      Cheerful Monk recently posted..Scary Election

  4. We are on the same page, it seems that is quite common – LOL. I agree ad concur. I try n0t to hold anyone’s religion against them – the obvious exception being radical Islamic terrorists bent on the destruction of western civilization.

    1. Radical Islamic terrorists are bent not only on the destruction of Western civilisation, but are also determined to destroy various other kinds of Muslims. If you visit India, you will see how the Indian Muslim and others live by and large in harmony till some hot heads from either or both sides decide to spoil things.

  5. Rummy, in respect of the fore goings, though i am a man from the street, i still feel like making two comments: (i) All religions, faiths and beliefs are ways of life for the respective followers and believers. (2) Atheists and free thinkers are the ones who consider themselves (mankind) and every thing else – living or non-living – as an integral part of the universe, now and always, not sometime in the future to merge with it.

  6. i don’t know why my subscription to your blog always reaches me late.
    i think i’ll just start checking each day. although when i’m late everyone else has always commented and i enjoy seeing them as well as your replies.

    alas. in my part of the country… they don’t seem to ‘recognize’ spiritualism for your definition of it. which is mine as well.
    here… unless you are a ‘fundamentalist christian’ you are looked upon with judgment and a “have you been SAVED? you’ve got to be saved” mentality.
    more killing has been done throughout the centuries by the good religious people than all the wars over turf and other nonsense combined.
    the same ‘christian’ will sit piously in their pews each week and then judge YOU for not believing in all their own beliefs. the bigotry continues.
    i like your take on it. and i love the dalai lama’s response once to the question about religion…
    “kindness is my religion.”
    that about says it all for me. a simple answer to a very complicated subject. and… btw… happy Diwali tomorrow!!!
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

    1. We must live in the same neighborhood Tammy – I have spent the last 20+ years being the resident non-believer and California jerk – LOL

    2. Thank you for the Diwali greetings. We had a grand one and as I am writing this, it continues.

      “My favorite definition of religion is ‘a misinterpretation of mythology.’ And the misinterpretation consists precisely in attributing historical references to symbols which are properly spiritual in their reference. What a mythic talks about is not something that happened somewhere or will happen somewhere at sometime or another; it refers to what is now, and was yesterday, and will be tomorrow, and his forever.”

      ~ Joseph Campbell.

  7. I am a spiritual atheist. I feel my connection to others and to the universe but don’t attribute it to a god or gods. When I practice anything, it’s a mindfulness practice.

  8. Well I’m confused…but don’t try to help 🙂

    Having a partial degree in Theology, as a non-practicing 1/2-pie Christian – I have watched & listened to a lot of the ideal/s…which has left me just wandering and wondering in my own way 🙂

Comments are closed.