Ideally, spirituality emanates from religion, religion creates a safe, encouraging environment in which spirituality emerges and grows.  Religion is form: tradition, doctrine, rites and rituals. Spirituality is content: communion with the divine, seeing the holy in all creatures and objects. In reality, this is not always the case.  Religion gone bad results in the triumph of form over content resulting in rituals without meaning and the exaltation of dogma. Spirituality at its worst is mindless drivel, the egotism of the individual believer, even madness.

In the West, Augustine, Hildegard, Meister Eckhart and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are examples of individuals whose lives were balanced by the experience of spirituality discovered in the practice of religion. But not every person can find spirit in form. Some, like Thoreau and Emerson, eschewed established religion to pursue a universal understanding of truth. Others like Mary Baker Eddy charted other pathways to explore consciousness, in effect creating (though that may not have been their intent) innovative forms. One may be a spiritual person, living in communion with God, nature and one's fellow beings, without the structures and formulae of organized religion. On the other hand, organized religion is not the ogre some freethinkers would have us believe. Many of the most sublime outpourings of love and faith have occurred within the sanctuary and teachings of church, mosque, zendo and ashram.  Where spirit is concerned, the forms cherished by the many may, but do not necessarily have to, lead to a life of spiritual fulfillment.  --Linda Brown Holt  From blog, June 21, 2006.