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What Is Spirituality And How Does It Differ From Religion?

Table of Contents

Introduction. 3

Discussion. 3

Conclusion. 5

References. 6


The sense of spirituality and religion is not well-defined for many of the audiences. Sacred and divine are some of the words that are generally used with the concept of god (Hedges 2021). However, the concept of spirituality is not only related to god rather it is hugely related to the sense of complete devotion (Singleton 2011). The thesis statement of the essay aims to differentiate the concept of spirituality from religion. 


As per the viewpoint of Singleton (2011), it can be said that participation in religious rituals, meditation and any activity that helps an individual to attain the states of transcendence can be described as spirituality. Slightly different from the traditional concept of spirituality, the modern spiritual concept reveals the deepest meaning and self-values by which people live their lives (Paradies 2020). It is well noted that Marxism does not support the radical concept of mixing social and religious life. However, Marxism has not opposed the concept of spirituality. From the “Wages of labourers” book by Karl Marx, it can be understood that Marx has pointed towards the breakdown of bondages of bodily needs. The theory also reveals that spirituality is the weapon of ceasing the slaves of the body. Referring to the concept of Marxism, it can be said that spirituality is such a sensation that helps in the creative growth of human beings (Marx and Engels 2009).

As already has been discussed that the concept of religion and spirituality is overlapping, there is no specific definition that can be marked as a proper description of religion. As indicated by Singleton (2011), it can be said that the relationship of human beings with something supernatural or otherworldly is considered as a religion. While spirituality deals with the inner realisation of a human being religion deal with the concept of power and force that cannot be proved. Dromi and Stabler (2019) have indicated that secularisation is a process that differentiates religion from spirituality. According to the concept of Secularisation theory, religious institutions need to be declined, religious declination is important for society; religion in several cases reduces the self-worth of individuals.

Hedges (2021) reveals that the concept of race has emerged during colonialism which creates a social difference based on the power status of the individuals. From the outside race is determined using skin colour while from the inside race is determined by the religious preferences of the people (Weng and Mansouri 2021).

From the viewpoint of social researchers, it can be said that spirituality strictly deals with the inner realisation of an individual. The consciousness about something that is greater than self deals with spirituality. Spirituality does not differentiate a race or one individual from another. Increasing consciousness, enduring nature and meaning experience are some of the key aspects that differentiate spirituality from the basic concept of religion (Ammerman 2013). With the spread of the colonial culture, the disastrous impact of religion on human civilisation has become evident. One of the main aims of colony formation was converting the religion of the individuals. Christian missionaries have acted as the religious weapon of the imperialist powers. Thus, it can be said that for ages religion has been used as a weapon of dominating the less powerful groups (Paradies 2020).  

The idea of religion and spirituality can be compared as a rectangle with that of a square. As an example, it can be said that Gautam Buddha is the prophet of the Buddhist religion. Religious followers of Buddhism strictly follow the guidelines of Buddhism. However, several followers of Gautam Buddha do not belong to that particular religion but follows the humanitarian teachings of. This group of followers believes in Buddhism for the sake of spirituality (Vu and Gill 2019).  Religion helps in creating a communal group that belongs to the same religion. Thus, it can be said that the creation of groups within a society is formulated by religion. In contrast, spirituality helps in the creation of unity within the society (Dromi and Stabler 2019). Considering the sense of religion, it can be said that it is sometimes used as a weapon for dominating the weaker people of society. While on the other hand, spirituality increases the sense of unity and provides the chance for self-reflection (Spickard 2017).  Spirituality deals with empowerment while religion deals with dominance. Providing the guidelines of living is the main concept of religion in contrast spirituality deals with the leading life following a particular philosophy (Ammerman 2013).

From the personal viewpoint, it can be said that spirituality is included within the religion but being only spiritual does not deal with believing in any particular god. From a personal viewpoint, it can be said that being spiritual is helpful for self-growth while religion divides the societal people in several cases. Following the theory of Marxism, it can be said that being religious is not harmful but trying to implement the radical concepts of religion into normal societal life and pressurising others to follow that line is harmful (Hedges 2021). The detrimental impacts of the following religion in societal life can be validated by the increase of global hatred against Muslims after the 9/11 incident. A particular foul act has no connection with a religious group but it is the fatal societal concept that considers a whole group accountable for the fault of a single individual (Weng and Mansouri 2021).


From the entire discussion, it can be concluded that religion and spirituality are differentiated from one another by a thin line. Religious teachings can give rise to spirituality but it is not necessary that a spiritual individual has to follow any god or specific religion. Religion divides society into groups while spirituality tries to unite different groups through self-relation and power. Referring to the thesis statement, it can be said that religion and spirituality deal with understanding the core values of life but the paths both follow are different from one another. Therefore, it can be said that in modern world spirituality is the mirror of society rather than religion.


Ammerman, N.T (2013) ‘Spiritual but not religious? Beyond binary choices in the study of religion’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion52(2): 258-278.

Dromi, S.M and Stabler, S.D (2019) ‘Good on paper: sociological critique, pragmatism, and secularization theory’, Theory and Society, 48(2): 325-350,

Hedges, P.M (2021) 1 RELIGION Language, Law, and Legacies, In Understanding Religion (pp. 19-43). University of California Press, California.

Hedges, P.M (2021) 7 COLONIALISM Postcolonialism, Orientalism, and Decolonization, In Understanding Religion (pp. 163-187), University of California Press. California.

Marx, K and Engels, F (2009) The economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844 and the Communist manifesto. Prometheus Books, Buffalo

Paradies, Y (2020) ‘Unsettling truths: modernity,(de-) coloniality and Indigenous futures’, Postcolonial Studies23(4): 438-456.

Singleton, A (2011). ‘The rise and fall of the Pentecostals: The role and significance of the body

in Pentecostal spirituality,’ Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 23: 381-399,

Spickard, J.V (2017) Narrative versus theory in the sociology of religion: Five stories of religion’s place in the late modern world, In Theorising Religion (pp. 169-181). Routledge, Abingdon.

Visser, I. (2015) ‘Decolonizing trauma theory: retrospect and prospects’, Humanities, 4(2): 250-265,

Vu, M.C and Gill, R (2019) ‘“Letting go of the raft”–the art of spiritual leadership in contemporary organizations from a Buddhist perspective using skilful means’, Leadership., 15(3): pp.360-380,

Weng, E and Mansouri, F (2021) ‘Swamped by Muslims’ and facing an ‘African gang’problem: racialized and religious media representations in Australia. Continuum: 1-19.