Religion is a Farm, Spirituality is a Garden

How do you differentiate religion from spirituality? Or do you differentiate them? There is much overlap between them, after all, with religion promising spirituality, and the rare times, spirituality claiming to be its own religion.

Religion is far too general for me. In a schematic visual metaphor, I would draw religion as a big circle into which as many people as possible are jammed, each like a dot. Some will inevitably be closer to the centre, meaning the centre of their world aligns well with the religion’s centre. Others will be near the edge, maybe even outside the edge, meaning their worlds only align well to a small part of the religion. The rest will be somewhere in between, with each moving around as things changed or as they were herded to the centre. On the contrary, spirituality is like a circle for each person, always centered on the person, with circle size being the extent to which each applied spirituality in their lives. It is always individual centric, with the circle moving with the person as things changed in their lives.

In a more artistic metaphor, where religion is a farm, spirituality is a garden, the same idea is communicated. Religion cultivates the masses by formulae, without a lot of wiggle room for individual attention and/or deviation. It supposedly helps people grow, but its generic and often forceful methods are like that used by farms help crops grow. Meanwhile, gardening is all about detail, with lots of flexibility and deviation, even embracing both as the garden owner and/or life changes. How farm and garden content are tended is very different literally, but very similar metaphorically, in my opinion, to how religion and spirituality each tends its respective practitioners.

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This post is one of 70 quotes I wrote, each with an accompanying essay, in my e-book and paperback Stars I Put in my Sky to Live By, on Amazon or Smashwords (choose your price including free!).

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