spirituality and religiousness

28Apr05

Are they same? There certainly is a vast difference. And this is the way I understand it.

Religiousness will be used to mean adherence to the beliefs and practices of an organized society or a religious institution. Hinduism, Christianity et.al. are such institutions. And a strong following of the philosophy and practices as laid down in the respective scriptures would constitute religiousness. On the other hand, spirituality refers to a distinct, personally meaningful experience letting a person work towards a purpose that renders more meaning to his living. Although spirituality may include certain forms of religiousness, it does not necessarily involve religiousness.

Religiousness is about a stress on sticking to religious scripts and ancestral beliefs that run high to this day. The elders among various religious circles are generally too particular in keeping up all those rituals that have been flowing through the traditions. The theory of religiousness believes in the scripts being the compass showing the direction to happiness and laying down the norms of living.

Spirituality is about adopting some of such norms but extrapolating them based on personal experiences and rational notions and eventually forming a new set of principles that form the norms and directions to better living for that individual. That’s why we find those comments in the previous post about spirituality being a relative term and subject to different interpretations based on individual perceptions. Spirituality is more subjective, while religiousness is more objective in nature.

I feel, at times religiousness tends to make some people have a blind faith that makes them go far overboard in their attempts to hold on to their scripts. There is a saying ‘The fear of Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. This is classic religion. And I totally disagree with this. There is no reason why I should be ‘afraid’ of Lord. Purity of thought and deed must arise not out of fear but out of a genuine understanding of the facets. To me, spirituality seems to bring an outlook of increased tolerance and impartial compassion – two of the vital qualities of living.

To hammer the nail, I would say,

Religiousness: God, help me get through this thing successfully, I’ll come to your temple on foot and break 108 coconuts.
Spirituality: God, help me remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that You and I together can’t handle.

Any other interpretations?

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One Response to “spirituality and religiousness”

  1. I suspect that the spirituality/religion distinction has been overdrawn, particularly in the modern context where the two blur. I have just posted on it. In case you are interested, here is the link. http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/spirituality-and-religion-a-false-dichotomy/


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