What is the difference b/w spirituality and religiousness?
Every religion has two aspects:
- Religiousness manifests as a cultural setting consisting of traditions, customs, rituals, practices, etc.
- Spirituality, i.e. to develop a love for God, purification of mind, and cultivation of ethical values based on divine knowledge
For example, to visit holy places, recite prayers in the temple, wear rosary beads, etc., is being religious, but practising holiness for the self, decorating the inside with good-quality ornaments, and developing a prayerful heart is spiritual.
Which is more critical – being religious or spiritual?
Religiosity means following society's norms, while spirituality involves pleasing God and discovering oneself. Although rituals hold value, they are like zeroes. A single zero or multiple zero has no value. To make that zero valuable, we need to add a number in front of it. Spirituality is the number that adds value to the zeros of religiosity. Both are important, but spirituality is the foundation of a meaningful life.
If spirituality is our goal, then can we discard ritualistic practices?
Religious practices, when passed through generations, form the culture and heritage & also bond people in a spirit of community. In society, the percentage of people interested in the spiritual path is always tiny due to a lack of divine knowledge. Hence, religious traditions become tangible rituals & easy-to-adhere practices for the masses. These form the foundation for a more profound quest. Therefore, with spirituality as the primary goal, it is advisable to hold a healthy respect for religious practices.
God is one, yet why did so many religions exist?
Like the same person does different roles in different movies, similarly, God is one but manifests in an infinite variety of divine forms. All religions are approaching the same absolute truth in different ways. Lord Krishna says in the Gita, "One who views with the same vision, a Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog eater, that is a person of knowledge". Hence, there is diversity in the unity & unity in diversity.
Why did different saints offer different teachings?
All souls are at different levels of realization in their spiritual journey of endless lifetimes. Hence, based on the level of consciousness in a place, God sends a saint to teach them in a manner suitable to progress in their journey. So, every religion empowers souls in their divine flight based on the time, place & circumstances in which that faith came into existence. India is fortunate to have the treasure chest of the Vedas, which describes Sanatan Dharma, i.e. eternal religion. When you access it, you find it so systematic, scientific & amazingly applicable to even contemporary times!