The terms religion and spirituality are often used interchangeably but they are in fact, two very different concepts. Religion or religiosity refers to belonging to a group that practices a set of beliefs, behaviors, values, and attitudes that are based on previously established religious doctrine. Religion is also organized within an institution. The religious doctrine can be the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, or any other body of religious literature that is collectively shared and adhered to. Religiosity provides a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and supports groups of individuals that share the same beliefs, values, and morals.
Spirituality is the experience of a deep and profound relationship with a higher power or essence that occurs at the level of the individual. Spirituality includes a sense of meaning and purpose in life, a personal belief system and principles to live by. Transcendent beliefs and experiences can occur through an awareness of, and appreciation for, a vastness of the universe and recognition of a higher power. A relationship with one’s inner self develops with a deep connection to this higher power, which results in an increased capacity to love. This expanded capacity to love eventually leads to behaviours that focus on the greater good for all living creatures and the universe. Spirituality does not include a God that has been described by a specific body of writing but rather, the concept of God is a higher power, an inner force, a calling or even life itself.
Many people find their spiritual path within religion and many find it in other ways. The path is personal and private , allowing each individual to find his or her own balance. Hence, everyone is moving toward an inner journey and can sense that nothing outside the self can provide permanent and long-lasting happiness, but rather, happiness has to come from inside the self.