08/04/2014 01:19 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2014

Religion vs. Spirituality


About one out of every five Americans call themselves "spiritual but not religious." Why do they believe that?

We all see God in different colors. Some of us see him as a disciplinarian, while others see him as love, and some feel that he doesn't exist at all. The word "religion" comes from the Latin word religare, which means "to tie together." Maybe it meant the connection that people have with a higher power or their relationship with other people or maybe even to be tied down by religion.

Spirituality comes from the word spirit. The English word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus which means "to breathe."

When we look at religion we tend to look at the practices and what rituals we need to perform to be able to call ourselves "religious." We do feel judged and belittled if we don't perform these rituals. Why do people who believe in performing these practices believe that they are better than others? Most world religions talk about some sort of accountability where if we do the rituals prescribed to us we will achieve our ultimate destination, which is mental or physical heaven. If we don't do what is told to us or assigned to us we will eventually end up in hell. I believe that what pulls people away from religion. It has always amused me that people from each religion believe that they are "the chosen ones" and the rest of the world is doomed. Most wars in the world take place because of the "I am the chosen one" mentality," but then who are we to judge?

People believe (and so do I) that spirituality is something different. It is our connection with the Divine. You can call Him, Her, and It, whatever name you want to. You can see Him the in leaves on the trees or in wings of a butterfly. You can feel him in the drops of the rain or in the fruits that lie on your table. I feel spirituality allows me to love the world as a whole not just the "chosen ones." Being spiritual makes me have faith and compassion for all people even the one who aren't like me. I try to see goodness in all people because God resides in all of us, not just in the heavens above.

God's address isn't just way up there somewhere but in our hearts, in everyone's heart, but we tend to forget that. My favorite Sufi quote is:

"Oh God, If I worship You for the fear of hell, then burn me in hell
And if I worship You in hope of paradise, then exclude me from paradise
But if I love you for Your own sake, grudge me not Your everlasting beauty"
-- By Rabia A- Basri -- Female Sufi Mystic 717-801 A.D

I wish we lived in a world where religion and spirituality were considered one. Every person followed the religion of kindness, compassion and love!