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The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion?

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I know this sounds basic, but what is the difference between religion and spirituality?Religion is about belonging, community, shared values, shared rituals, and mutual support. Spirituality is about living life without a net, forever surrendered to reality and meeting each moment with curiosity, wonder, gratitude, justice, humility, and love. The two are not antithetical. Religion is often a container in which spiritual practices are preserved and passed on. Some people find the container as helpful as what it contains and choose to belong to a specific religion. Others simply take what they need from the containers and fashion their own way. I do a bit of both.I’ve been doubting my own faith lately. It’s not that I’m trying to doubt; I can’t help it. My pastor says doubt is evil. Is this true?I think doubt is essential to faith. People want security and surety; we want to feel safe, if not in this world then in the next. But there is no security, surety, or safety. There is just the wildness of life lived in the shadow of death. We never know what will happen next. Religion should provide us with the …

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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