Spirituality in most cases is arrived at through religion. Spiritual matters in that sense revolves around a person’s relationship with the forces that are beyond nature and the material world. The connection between an individual and these forces define spirituality. Religion plays a critical role in defining a person’s spirituality because it serves as “food” for one’s though, mind and soul so as to qualify to be spiritually fit. It is therefore imperative to understand that it is through religion that one achieves spiritual satisfaction and fitness (Nelson 2009).
Religion has quite a number of effects on spirituality. To begin with, religion can be seen to be an encounter with the divinity through a communal kind of sharing because it is defined by the whole wider society while spirituality is defined by the individual self through holding beliefs that make sense at a personal level (Nelson 2009). Religion is a social construction that is put in place by society and it is from it that one gets spiritually nourished in order to remain spiritual. Religion is a set of practices, beliefs and use of symbols which are essentially supposed to facilitate an individual’s understanding of God. The relationship with the sacredness of the divinity cannot therefore in any way be complete without factoring in the use of religion.
Spirituality in fact is just like a journey that one has to go through. In order to go through successfully and arrive at the destination, one has to use a variety means. These various means and ways can be narrowed down by one single word, religion. Religion will not only serve as the means by which to achieve it but also as a map that will show the right way to follow in order to arrive at the destination without getting lost. The map will therefore be symbolic of the various beliefs and symbols that will enable one attain the realms of spirituality that are expected not by society but the expectations of the sacred divinity in question. Through religion therefore it is possible to set out and draw the map before one embarks on the spiritual journey in order not to get lost at any given point.
Another very important aspect of religion on spirituality is based on the fact that it does provide a social and also conceptual setting upon which one can get a personal encounter with God. This means that it will to a large extent help connect the inner world of spirituality with that of the outer world of a people’s culture which entails a community that is necessary in nurturing spirituality. This means that religion helps get one get out of the privatized experience with God to a more communal one whereby one fits into a group in society through which spiritual nourishment can be achieved. The religious community will dictate how an individual is to live and conduct oneself in society so as to portray spirituality. The same community of a religious faith acts as the guard of the beliefs and traditions that make up the religion so as to preserve it and see to it that it is well kept for continuity as it will also be passed down from one generation to the next.
A religion will also provide the required language that is used when dealing with issues related to God. This language essentially is the one that one can use to communicate with the mind and soul with regard to spiritual nourishment (Dowson & Devenish 2010). It is through a religious language that only the mind and soul gets to understand and learn the expectations of spirituality as projected by different religions. Just like an artist uses paint to bring out a clear picture out of imagination, so does religious language create a picture or impression that can be understood by the mind and soul in an effort to keep oneself abreast with the expectations of God and also society of an individual.
Religion also does provide a person with the necessary tools that help nurture spirituality. These tools can be equated to spiritual disciplines that govern and help a person grow all through their spiritual journey. These disciplines are the practices which help build a person’s relationship with the God they believe in. An example of a tool that falls here is prayer, meditation and even fasting (Dowson & Devenish 2010). These are the activities that the body, soul and mind engage in an effort to partake of the divine order that spirituality calls for. It is therefore very important for religion to be part and parcel of an individual’s journey to achieve higher spiritual standing because it is through it that one gets to be spiritual too.
A faith community that is defined by religious beliefs through religion is very important in building a person in spirituality. In as much as spirituality can exist without religion, it is important to note that religion when given room in a person’s spiritual life can play a key role in establishing, developing and nurturing the spiritual life that one leads. Religion is therefore a good companion of spirituality.
Dowson, M.& Devenish, S. (2010). Religion and Spirituality (HC). Charlotte: IAP
Nelson, J. M. (2009). Psychology, Religion and Spirituality. New York: Springer