What is the difference between religion and spirituality? When the revelations, concepts, and practices promulgated by a sage or group of sages or prophets are defined and controlled by a priest class or such a body with the accompanying rules, regulations, and prohibitions without any scope for further spiritual advancement than the founder himself achieved, then that attains the character of a religion.
Religion remains static whereas spirituality renews and refreshes the spiritual experience with relevance to time and space, and measured to the individual needs as well as to that of society. Spirituality, therefore, has a kinetic quality, whereas religion binds us with an earlier interpretation of spiritual experience. Spirituality is the culture of realized souls who appear from time to time for the spiritual renewal of humanity. The difference between religion and spirituality lies here.
It is only Jnana or knowledge that leads to Punya (Virtue) and Bhagya (Good Luck). People with no proper awareness about spirituality usually say that it is enough to live doing good karma (Satkarma) without harming anyone. If you ask what do they mean by Satkarma, they say, giving charities, helping the poor, doing some good for the community, helping your family, etc. It’s all good. Let everyone evaluate how much Satkarma they are able to do. But the scope of Satkarma is not limited to this. The true Satkarma is a conscious effort to enrich and transform one’s life.
What is attained by Satkarma is Punya. Just as the body is nourished by food, it is Punya that nourishes the soul. The soul without Punya does not bring Bhagya. And if there is no Bhagya, it leads to many hardships in life. Enriching the Soul means earning Punya; to transform means to upgrade one’s soul to the next Jnana Bhumika. Satkarma is the means by which the soul gradually gets upgraded to its absolute potential. One gets the guidance and motivation to do Satkarma only through Satsang. Satsang means fellowship with the Soul-knowing Guru.
Spirituality is the effort to know what is the current state of one’s soul, its color and how can it be transformed and enriched by Satkarma. When Punya ceases, the color of the soul, which is pure white, fades and becomes dark, red, yellow, etc. according to the predominance of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, and attains various conditions such as ill-health and mental weakness. There is a color for the soul also, just like the body. Only a Jnani knows this. Characteristics of a person vary according to the color. The paucities and misfortunes of one’s soul get eradicated and the soul gets filled with Punya and Bhagya only through the guidance of a Guru who knows this Soul-science. This is the greatest Satkarma in life.
Religion is irrelevant here. This is where religion and spirituality differ. Religion is like a stagnant pool. Spirituality expands life and guides it to the right destination. Therefore, leave religion and walk towards spirituality. This is the nature of the spiritual guidance of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru.