Motivator: There is No Difference between Religion and Spirituality.
Thesis: There is no difference between religion and spirituality because what a person believes in strongly and perfectly constitute of what is inside the person or what comes from the inside of the that is the spirit. From this perspective then religion should be a constitution of people having the same belief and conviction in a certain being or thing.
This is a confirmation that there is no difference between the two. People can not be spiritual beings without religion. Even though different people have difference dispositions, within those dispositions their spirituality is demonstrated by what they do through religion. Howard Cutler, the author of The Art of Happiness, defines the relationship between the two entities that is religion and spirituality and he does not dwell on one specific religion group but captures the general view on all religions in the world. All human beings in the world have their spiritual leanings which emanate from what they believe in. There is a clear understanding of the closeness and inter-dependability of religion and spirituality, which means if some people argue that there is a difference, then they will be explained to note and realize the oneness between the two.
It is the work of those who have felt the power of spiritualism in their respective religions to tell the others about it and if it were so, then the whole world will not be having these problems it is experiencing. For instance, for religion and spirituality to bear good and positive fruits, people of different religions must respect others peoples’ convictions across the divide or all different religions in the world. This implies that the disrespect and negative criticisms of the religions jeopardizes the understanding of the relationship between religion and spirituality.
Religion and spirituality.
I: Spirituality calls for an inner transformation of people and this is not only an application to one religious group but all of them that exist in the world.
A. Even though there are many religions in the world there are beliefs that have developed them as a group but the convictions of spiritualism are the same no matter Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddha, etc. This implies that, for instance, Christians being with their beliefs must respect monks and their beliefs and all the other religions should do the same.
B. The respect of other religions exhibits and cultivates tolerance among the diverse religions and their spiritual inclinations. (Cutler 1998) in his selection from The Art of Happiness also argues the same way, “All of these religions can make an effective contribution for the benefit of humanity. They are all designed to make the individual a happier person and the world a better place. However, in order for religion to have an impact in making the world a better place, it is important for the individual practitioner to sincerely practice the teaching of the respective religion. One must integrate the religious teaching into life activities, whatever one is, so one can use them as a source of inner strength”.
C: Practicing and integrating what religion teaches shows how strong is the connection between spirituality and religion. For spirituality to define the true course of humanity, then it is a must for people to preach water and drink that water, not preach water and drink wine. This means that they should practice the teachings of their respective religions and through this they will demonstrate a commitment and oneness between religion and spirituality. It is extremely important to practice the teachings of one’s religion so that it will be easier to tell the others to change attitudes towards religions which are somewhat negative if behaviors are not exhibited through their practices.
II: There are hundreds if not thousands of religions that exist in the world today but each religion exhibits its own spiritual characteristics which mean these convictions in the form of spirituality constitute the religion. However, spirituality is of two different levels, nevertheless, the two levels do not change or alter the unity or the oneness between religion and spirituality.
A: According to (Cutler 1998) the two levels are; one, “the level of spirituality has to do with our religious beliefs and the other number two level is what he calls basic spirituality that is in extension, basic human qualities of goodness, kindness, compassion and caring”. The first level of spirituality directly confirms that religion and spirituality have no differences at all, which then means that religion shapes the spirit of those who are in that religion and vice versa. The second level of spirituality is having the said fruits or character traits but they come about after one has been humbled by the spiritual teachings of a religion.
B: The two levels of spirituality have made people to believe in certain convictions and (Cutler 1998) quotes it clear from The Dalai Lama, “there are five billion human beings and in a certain way I think we need five billion difference religions because there is such a large variety of dispositions”. (Cutler 1998) continues to quote, “I believe that each individual should embark upon a spiritual path suited to his or her mental disposition, natural inclination, temperament, belief, family and cultural background.” There are a variety of dispositions but they do not create a difference between religion and spirituality. In basic spirituality, the qualities that emerge from people who practice it make it more important without the necessity of religion but yet this does not undervalue the connectivity and the inter-relationship between the two i.e. spirituality and religion. This is another strong message for those who claim to be religious but what comes from them does not at all reflect what they claim to be and is not of spiritualism. (Cutler 1998) puts it clear, “whether we are believers or non believers, this kind of spirituality is very essential.
C: The second level of spirituality important than the first because no matter how wonderful a particular religion may be, it will still only be accepted by a limited number of human beings, only a portion of humanity. But as long as we are human beings all over us need these basic spiritual values. Cultivating these kinds of basic spiritual values becomes crucial.” These values are kindness, caring and others as mentioned there before. Religion and spirituality bear these kinds of values or fruits. If some people having the same values come together, they form a group and with same beliefs in these values religion is born and the religion in turn keeps teaching and maintaining spirituality and its values.
III: Many religions in the world from the past to present have brought hope to millions and this is true because of the values of spirituality that have been exhibited by the believers of these religions. We have also to respect each religion and its beliefs because without boundaries, the various traditions of all religious groups have inspired many people and still will continue to inspire many.
A: Hope in millions of people promotes these values associated with our religions and respect for other peoples’ values as well. Respecting other peoples’ religious traditions presents a framework which guides the behavior in across the divides meaning every religion.
B: For instance, Cutler the author of The Art of Happiness writes about The Dalai Lama’s conviction as a spiritual leader of Buddhism one of the religions in the world. The Dalai Lama in his message on respecting others, he crosses over to warmly talk about Christianity and yet as a Buddha he stays among the Hindus of India, (Cutler 1998) quotes the Dalai Lama, “I believe that one can cultivate a deep respect for all the different religious traditions. One reason to why to respect these other traditions is that all of these traditions have provided an ethical framework which can govern one’s behavior and positive effects. For instance, in the Christian tradition a belief in God can provide one with a coherent and clear-cut ethical framework which can govern one’s behavior”.
C: It is believed or it is a fact that religion has changed the people’s behavior because what comes out of them i.e. the spiritual fruits are guided. Therefore the behavior is changed or shaped by spiritualism and spiritualism is cultivated and nurtured by religion and religion does not mean Christianity or Buddha or Hinduism but all true religions in the world.
What makes all the people in the world to be what they are is what they believe in and what they practice. These beliefs emanate from what is inside us which is the spirit and this spirit can only be shaped through religion. Respecting other religions is a way of showing the values of spirituality. This concludes that there is no way spirituality can be separated from religion. Different religions have different beliefs but at the end of the day values are the same of spiritual teachings are the same. Religion and spirituality go hand in hand, without one the other can not be complete and in the essence, spiritual people must be religious.
Cutler, Howard. The Art of Happiness. A Handbook for Living. New York: Riverhead. 1998.