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What is the Difference Between Religion and Spirituality?

Columnists
I’m in recovery and suspect that my addictions keep me from knowing something. But what?Addictions are like mud on a mirror: when we look into it, we cannot see our true self. Addictions keep us from seeing ourselves as a manifestation of God the way a wave is an extension of an ocean. Moving beyond addiction leads us to the greatest freedom we can know: the freedom to be who we are — creative agents for justice and compassion. What is the difference between religion and spirituality? Religion is often about who’s in and who’s out, creating a worldview steeped in “us against them.” Spirituality rejects this dualism and speaks of us and them. Religion is often about loyalty to institutions, clergy, and rules. Spirituality is about loyalty to justice and compassion. Religion talks about God. Spirituality helps to make us godly. The two need not be at odds. Religion at its best is spirituality in community.  As a kid I was deeply wounded by my church, but I want to return. What can I do to protect myself from being traumatized again?Religious institutions that do harm are those that ins …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Author and teacher Rabbi Rami Shapiro will lead “Walking Without, Journeying Within”—a trip to the Holy Land with S&H in fall 2018.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler," addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more.

His newest book is The World Wisdom Bible.

He has this to say about religion: "To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence."

To comment on this installment of One For the Road or submit a question, email the editors. Questions may be edited for length and clarity; all are published anonymously.

Learn from Rabbi Rami!

Register now for Rabbi Rami's new online course, The Sacred Art of Forgiveness


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