People often ask me the difference between spirituality and religion. Certainly the two words can be interchangeable and the ritual can often look the same.
For me the difference is the idea of purpose, the reason why we do or don’t do x, y, or z.
There is a wonderful little story that speaks to this question: A student challenges his teacher about the manner of giving thanks, saying “We both make a blessing before we eat. How is your blessing different from mine?” The master lovingly answers his bold young pupil saying, “Yes, it is true that both you and I make a blessing before we eat our food. The only difference is that you thank God so you can eat, and I eat so I can thank God.”
What we learn from this master is that it’s not the blessing or ritual itself that is important but rather the consciousness behind it. According to the teachings of the Kabbalah Centre, the purpose for all our study, for all the many connections we participate in, for all the prayers we make, is to bring us to have the ability to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” Through these actions, we align ourselves with the divine Light that exists within us and from there extend it outwards. Thus, the ritual we use is a tool to acquire the energy and spiritual strength to become that sharing and caring kind of person.
So the next time we say a blessing or do any other ritual- lets first pause, then remind ourselves: Why am I doing this? What am I hoping to achieve?