Religion And Spirituality Essay

1976 words - 8 pages

Religion and Spirituality

Since the dawn of human life, people have eternally been searching for the purpose of existence. Humans are innately curious beings, and are blessed to have the capabilities of higher thought processes. Humans use these thought processes to ponder the question of existence. Unfortunately, the evolution of man has not brought the human race any closer to actualizing its purpose on earth. In fact, this issue is such that the more one feels he or she understands it, the more questions concerning it arise. This problem perpetuates itself by the confusion of religion and spirituality, and the roles they hold in society. As the human race evolves, it feels the need to designate structure to its world. As a means to provide structure, man creates both systems of social order, as well as systems of belief. The purpose of the two systems is to explain unknown phenomenon while creating an environment where societies can grow. Humans do this because they have an innate drive to both explain the unknown in addition to perpetuating a society that holds common beliefs and values. One can define these two systems as religion and spirituality. The problem lies in the fact that these two systems are so closely intertwined that oftentimes they are confused as being synonymous. However, this is most definitely not the case. On the contrary, religion’s purpose is to create social structure and congruency. Religion is driven by social purpose, and can be exploited. In fact, a small part of every religion serves a selfish purpose rather than an honorable one. Religion’s purpose is completely different from the purpose of spirituality. Spirituality, on the other hand, deals with personal beliefs about the meaning of life, and is not dealt with on a public level. The very nature of spirituality protects it from exploitation because it is so personal. The fact that religion is exploited for personal and social gain can be seen throughout history, and will be later discussed.

In order to fully understand how religion and spirituality are different, as well as how religion is exploited, one must first have an effective definition of the two terms. Religion is a certain mode of orientation towards reality (Howerth, 1983). This definition encompasses many things, and therefore personal beliefs cannot make up the whole of religion. Oftentimes, religion is seen as a moral standard for humans to evaluate their lives against. However, if one looks deeper into the reasons behind moral values, one finds that values that are virtuous are those that contribute to the development of society, and values that are dishonorable are those that impair the development of society. Religion consists of organized bodies that congregate with the purpose of creating social order (Bharati, 1971). When one looks at any religion, one can see this, but a blatant example is the religion of Hinduism. An integral part of this...

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