spirituality and religion

spirituality and religion

April 7, 2011  |  knowledge, life, main blog, motivation, philosophy

Brian Woodcock writes in one of his essays that “being spiritual is not the same as being religious.

Religion is about what you believe and do.

Spirituality is to do with quality; it is a thing of the heart.

Religion draws lines.

Spirituality reads between them. It tends to avoid definitions, boundaries and battles. It is inclusive and holistic. It crosses frontiers and makes connections. It is characterised by sensitivity, gentleness, depth, openness, flow, feeling, quietness, wonder, paradox, being, waiting, acceptance, awareness, healing and inner journey”.

Spirituality is a consciousness which exist beyond the usual human realm of existence and awareness. In these dimensions, expanded states of being can be experienced – and even induced through meditation and breathing techniques. States of bliss and love are often associated with this higher dimension, together with an absence of judgment – nothing is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it just ‘is’.

Religion can embrace spirituality, but is usually more about a belief system based on man’s interpretation, and is often long on judgment. Such judgment, often accompanied by fundamentalism, has been the major source of conflict in our world over the last few centuries. Even today, Christian and Muslim belief systems can, under the leadership of individuals, be manifested in promotion of fear and guilt. In other situations, such as the church from which my mum picked up the Brian Woodcock material, the primary focus is on love, hope and true spirituality.

Mark Johnson has recently written that Western religion is undergoing transformation as some adherents become more politically engaged. As active participation in religion declines, there is an element of hard core believers remaining, many of whom are deeply conservative and hostile to the secular world around them.

As Christianity declines, those many people of real compassion, integrity and thought, who leave such institutions to seek alternatives outside regimented boundaries, leave behind those who then transform the largely vacant structure into one of their own shrunken image and agenda. Johnson contends that, not content with transforming the ecclesial structure, the secular terrain also needs their attention.

The main point of this piece is to emphasise that religion does not have a mortgage on spirituality, and that there are many ways for us all to explore and develop a state of greater consciousness or connectedness, which can add a rich dimension to our lives. We may increasingly need them as participation in religion declines – and with it the loss of fellowship, community and support systems.



1 Comment


  1. Nice post; timely for me too. This very stuff is very often on my mind and in my heart.

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