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Is there any difference between religion and spirituality?

A tradition can be qualified as spiritual if there is emphasis on one's personal growth leading to discovery of truth of the entire creation, here and now as against going to some place after this life.

Most of the traditions end with going to heaven as a final goal. As we can see, the existence of heaven as well as one's going to heaven are non-verifiable beliefs. If going to a given place after death is the ultimate goal, the scope of inquiring into what is here and now and growing in order to discover this truth will be limited.

The Vedas reveal various means to satisfy human aspirations for security, pleasures, power etc; they also reveal the ends that can be attended hereafter such as heaven, and ways to get there. However, Veda also points out that all the above pursuits can never fulfill one's fundamental desire to be free from limitation. In fact, the entire commitment of the Vedas is initially to help one achieve certain ends through ethical means and living a religious life. It is hoped that this ethical person, one day grows enough to discover the fundamental human problem and decides to pursue the knowledge of truth about oneself and the universe. Even after one starts pursuing the knowledge, the ways of growing into a mature person are indicated to become eligible for knowing the truth. 

It is important to note that there are some traditions in the world that unfold this identity between the cause of the universe and the individual. The truth need not be revealed in Sanskrit like in the texts of Upanishads, nor it be taught by an Indian teacher. This knowledge being knowledge about what is, cannot therefore belong to any country or any group or any person. It belongs to humanity and addresses human quest for freedom from limitation which is present in all times and in all civilizations. It just happens that the tradition of Vedanta was born and maintained in India. It is a living tradition with a sophisticated and profound method of teaching transmitted from generation to generation that continues to be present even today.

If any sacred scripture contains not just few isolated statements but a systematic, elaborate and dedicated teaching about this identity with a living tradition of teaching, then it forms the basis of a spiritual tradition in the true sense.



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