Spirituality is the part of a person’s life that relates to their relationship with God or the Divine. This can involve practicing one’s beliefs, reflecting on them, connecting with others who share that faith, and putting those beliefs into practice in one’s daily life. It can also include having a sense of connection to something greater than oneself and/or experiencing joy and fulfillment from living in accordance with one’s values.
Religion, on the other hand, is a structured system of beliefs and practices that are typically centered around a particular faith or set of spiritual beliefs. This can include participating in certain rituals, praying regularly, attending services or gatherings with others who share these beliefs, and generally adhering to the rules and values associated with one’s chosen religion.
While spirituality and religion are often closely linked and often seen as being similar concepts, there are some key differences between them. Yitzhak D Stern will now explain some of them.
Main Differences between Spiritual Life and Religious Life per Yitzhak D Stern
Focus on the Individual vs. Focus on the Collective
According to Yitzhak D Stern, while spirituality is often focused on one’s personal relationship with God or the divine, religion typically places more emphasis on the beliefs and practices shared by a larger community of people. This can include adherence to certain rituals, following specific rules and guidelines, participation in communal gatherings or events, and so on.
Emphasis on Inner Experience vs. Emphasis on Outward Expression
Another difference between spiritual life and religious life relates to how each person approaches their faith and relationship with God or the divine. Spiritual life tends to be more inward-focused, placing an emphasis on things like introspection, reflecting on one’s beliefs and values, and the personal experience of spirituality. In contrast, religious life tends to emphasize outward expression through things like prayer, ritual, or other public displays of faith.
Emphasis on Acceptance vs. Emphasis on Judgment
Another key difference between spiritual life and religious life, as per Yitzhak D Stern, is how each views others who have different beliefs or practices. For those with a more spiritual orientation, there is often an emphasis on acceptance and understanding of people with different perspectives or worldviews. In contrast, those with a more religious orientation may focus more on judging others who do not share their beliefs or values as being “sinful” or “unrighteous” in some way.
Emphasis on Personal Journey vs. Emphasis on Prescribed Practices
Finally, spiritual life tends to focus more on the individual’s own journey and experiences, while religious life focuses more on following established practices that have been laid out by the religion or faith tradition in question. This can lead to different approaches when it comes to things like prayer, meditation, service, etc., with spirituality often being less prescriptive than many religions.
Concluding Thoughts by Yitzhak D Stern
Yitzhak D Stern believes that whether you lean towards a more spiritual or religious approach to your faith is ultimately up to you, but understanding the key differences between these two concepts can help you better navigate your own spiritual journey.