Spirituality and religion are not synonymous. Religion has more to do with rites and rituals. Spirituality is about rational knowing; religion is about blind following. A master experientially uncovers the ultimate truth and starts disseminating the knowledge to people so that they can start their own investigation. But when the experiential truth gets left behind and people start blindly following just the rituals – religion is born.
How to dress, how to talk, how to pray and when to pray. Everything becomes prescriptive and later gets transcribed into books - since every great guru or prophet is going to leave the body sometime or the other. After the body is gone, the teachings are collected and the followers start following it; however, not necessarily in the way the master had taught.
The followers add new perceptions and interpretations that might not be at all related to the original teachings. So, some other path is formed under the name of the master! People keep joining the herd and eventually, start quarrelling about what is right and what is wrong. Then the game of politics begins and everything gets corrupted. This is the story of almost all religions. Everybody claims that what they are doing is right and what others are doing is wrong. People try to convert each other onto their side and become more and more, powerful.
Masters differ from one another. Sri Krishna or Buddha were very different personalities, but they lived their truth. It is lamentable that each path of the ancient times was later divided into many sects, and now these sects hate each other or even kill each other in the name of religion.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is about knowing the fundamental truth. It does not matter which God or holy book you believe in. Spirituality is a quest of the real existence. What is the truth? A spiritual seeker is interested in knowing, in encountering the veritable truth. The seeker is not interested in an organized religion, as it distracts him or her from the inner journey to the Self. All these wars and discords are not important to the seeker. Indeed, there is a schism between religion and spirituality but often people mistake one for the other.
For example, ‘yoga’ is not a religion. Yoga is a spiritual path on which you evolve. Yoga makes you aware of who you are. Through yoga one learns to master the mind and the body. Yogic practices help you to go deeper into a contemplative mode. It brings you to the point where you can discover the truth yourself. Any individual of any faith or religion can learn yoga and bring that wisdom, beauty and grace into their life.
Be spiritual, not religious.