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Spirituality - RoundTable

ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India

Interview by -  Pradip Sinha,
Associate Consultant,
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).

Spirituality is at the heart of business response, although few companies would use the 'spiritual' label to describe their actions. Effective Executive invited eminent personalities like Prof. Prabhu Guptara; Wayne Visser, Author and Speaker; Alex Pattakos, Founder of the Center for Personal Meaning; and Linda Sue Grimes, Columnist; to share their views on spirituality.

Many of us fail to distinguish between religion and spirituality. Is there a difference between the two? If yes, what according to you is the difference between religion and spirituality?

Prabhu Guptara

It is fashionable nowadays to try to make a distinction between "religion" as consisting of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and so on (established and formal religions) and "spirituality" as consisting in attempts to relate to the divine outside the established formalities of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and so on. In India, we have had a long tradition (since the first century before Christ) of a split between religion (as in temples) and spirituality (as in meditation and so on). However, in fact there is no real distinction between "religion" and "spirituality" or, if there is a distinction, it is a purely academic and theoretical one. In practice, all devotees of any religion are seeking to experience God and to be guided by him....and everyone who is "spiritual" is seeking exactly the same.

Wayne Visser

The difference is in the eye of the beholder. Religion and spirituality can be synonymous in some people's minds, and different in others' perception. Usually, religion is understood to refer to the more formalized institutions of faith, while spirituality denotes a way of being, or an attitude to life. Hence, some who regard themselves as spiritual, do not align themselves with any particular formal religion.

Alex Pattakos

Indeed, in my view, there is a difference between spirituality and religion. Spirituality refers to a concept that is intangible yet holistic, integrative, systemic, developmental, and cross-cultural in its connotation. In other words, it is both boundary less and boundary spanning at the same time. The institutions of church and religion, by design (especially those denominations that are "fundamentalist" in their orientation), on the other hand are basically boundary setters, distinguishing who is "in" and who is "out."

Linda Sue Grimes

Religion refers to the method and practice for becoming soul-realized, which leads to God awareness; therefore, we have various religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, which provide systems of moral guidance and methods for prayer and worship. Spirituality refers directly to the soul, its nature, its function, its purpose, which can be known only intuitively by direct contact. Only spirit can realize spirit. The physical body and the mind cannot know the soul or God; however, the human being through religious study, practice, meditation, and prayer can become self-realized, realizing the soul or God. Religion can be known, but spirituality can only be realized. Religion, therefore, is the tangible part of the search for God, and spirituality is the intangible part.

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