7 differences between Being Religious & Being Spiritual

By: Keyur Seta

I have a strong feeling that in olden or ancient times, being religious simply meant being a good person and doing good deeds. Swami Vivekananda also once said, “To be good and to do good, that is the whole of religion.” But over the decades or centuries, the meaning of leading a religious life has undergone a drastic change.

Today, the criteria for being religious is to carry out some ritual or the other, holding on to one particular faith, and having certain beliefs. In other words, they constantly need to do something or the other in the name of religion and worship only one or few particular Gods to call themselves religious.

Picture: Spiritlifectr.org

But at the same time, there are people, especially in today’s modern era, who surely believe in the existence of God. However, they prefer to be called spiritual but not religious.

So, what exactly is the meaning of being Religious and Spiritual and what is the difference between the two? I have tried explaining it by jotting down the characteristics of people from both categories. Please bear in mind that these characteristics are based on people’s beliefs and behavior in today’s era. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the original or ancient meaning of being Religious or Spiritual.


Characteristics of Religious people


Characteristics of Spiritual people


They label themselves with the names of any one religion. For example, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Jew, etc.


They have no labels stuck on them belonging to any particular religion.
They look at other people too through these labels, although they need no necessarily consider themselves superior to people from ‘other’ religions. They look at fellow human beings as fellow human beings, instead of their ‘religious’ identities. It can also be said that their religion is Humanity.


Some of them believe in the sub-sects within their religion like caste. As they don’t believe in religion, believing in things like caste is out of question.


They strictly abide by the ideologies and theories mentioned in the religious book/s of their own religion. They believe in the existence of one Universal God. They might believe in a book belonging to some religion, but they aren’t rigid about it being the only universal truth.


Carrying out various rituals and reciting certain verses are their important methods of worshiping or pleasing ‘their’ God/s. Although some of them might carry out certain prayers or rituals related to one particular religion, they don’t consider them to be related to that religion. They are open to believing ceremonies other faiths too.


They believe in fasting in the name of ‘their’ God. Most of them don’t believe in rituals like fasting. Even if they do, it will be aimed at self-control or for health reasons, rather than pleasing any God in order to get some returns.
They visit places of worship regularly. It is not necessary for them to visit places of worship. For them, God is everywhere and helping fellow human beings is equal to worshiping God. They also consider Nature as God.



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