In every religion you will find two aspects: the ritual and the spiritual.
The rituals are about the physical world and how to live it. In every religion you will find names for gods, for saints and for sacred prayer offices. The rituals show the way to pray or to meditate, the physical positions of the body, the movements, certain dress codes, etc. In every religion you will also find some rules for eating, dressing, behaving, and many other rituals like fasting, sacrifices, wedding, blessing the new born and the dead, etc. The rituals are actually the physical expression of a religion and its fingerprint. Without rituals, religions would be totally silent and invisible. We wouldn’t be able to differentiate a religion from the other. The plurality of rituals is the manifestation of a plurality of religions. And we identify a religion through the analysis of its rituals.
The spirituality is about the invisible world. There is nothing that we can see, count, or measure here.Spirituality arouses from the consciousness of the human being as being part of this big universe. The cycles of birth and death, the movements of the wind, the sun, the stars, etc. drive the human being to contemplate this cosmos and himself, and to find out that he is part of a powerful realm ruled by astonishing natural powers. This metaphysical feeling is exactly the spiritual part of the religious experience. Spirituality is about the spirit. And more precisely it is about the connection between the human spirit to another Superior Spirit. This Superior Spirit is the unity between us and every other being. It is the unifier and the origin of everything.
Spirituality is anterior to rituals.
This spiritual experience comes necessarily before the ritual religion, because the rituals are the manifestation of the spiritual experience in the material world. Tobe able to share and to spread this spiritual experience with the other members of the mankind, the first spiritual men invented words and gestures to reach again this spiritual level. All those words and gestures slowly became the religious rituals. So the main goal of those rituals is to help the common humans to reproduce this ultimate spiritual experience and to reach the high realm of spirituality. The names of the Supreme God, the prayers and other rituals offer to the religious person a common path to reach spirituality.
Rituals are different. New rituals evolve from older ones.
If we look into the different rituals of different religions, we will find how different they are. Some rituals are also totally different within the same religion that diverged in different branches. But as we said before, even if the rituals are different, they have the same goal: spirituality. The development of the religious rituals can interestingly be compared to the development of languages. Even if languages are very different, they have the same goal which is to communicate. Even if the alphabets or symbols, and the sounds are extremely different from one language to the other, all languages still have some things in common, and that’s because they all have the same goal. Religious rituals could seem very strange from one religion to the other, but they still aim to the same realization.
If we have a closer look at the evolution of religious rituals, we will find that it is very hard to dissociate them from the social prevalent cultures. Like the languages that evolve the one from the other, rituals of a “new”religion also evolve from other more ancient rituals. From this point of view, no religion is totally new like no language can be totally new. All are a reform of an old one, or its adaptation to a new culture or new era. Like languages that still contain words, verbs and subjects, rituals still contain prayers, names for gods and saints.
Spirituality is unique.
While rituals can be very different from one religion to the other, spirituality is very similar. It is the same with communication; if you analyze the discourse held by people speaking in two very different languages, you will find out at the end that they are talking about the same things, and one discourse can be translated from one language to the other without loosing much of its meaning. Spirituality is a characteristic of all human beings like communication; whether it is reached through these or those rituals matters less than the spiritual accomplishment in itself. Only on few metaphysical details we can find some arguable differences. For some religions, God is external to this world and is the creator of this world; for some others, God is the world and the Spirit of the world. For other religions, there is not such a Spirit, but there is a path that leads to salvation. All the religions are meant to show humans a path to the same summit: the escape from the human material condition to reach a realm of eternity, happiness and peace.
Rituals and spirituality are inseparable.
On this way to achieve the ultimate happiness or the ultimate liberation, rituals without spirituality do not make any sense. In the same time, spirituality without action doesn’t mean any sense neither. Spirituality and rituals have to work hand in hand to elevate the human being and make him aware of him self and his universe. This awareness leads necessarily to a conscious morality toward oneself and toward every little piece of the surrounding world. This conscious and responsible morality is the highest achievement of the religious rituals that go hand in hand with a strong spirituality.
Rituals alone lead to emptiness.
When the rituals are separated from their mother-spirituality, the religion goes on a decline and needs are form. When a religious society consider the rituals as more important than the spirituality, the morality is lost and the religion becomes empty. The human being is then the prey of so many contradictions and his soul is jailed. Then, forgetting that rituals are one path amongst others toward spirituality and ultimate salvation, the people become so attached to the physical world, fighting for lands, for power or for fame as if they will never die, and as if there is neither god nor spirit. The rituals become in that case like void physical movements. They don’t achieve any happiness neither any salvation. It is like using the language only for discussing the grammar. That doesn’t achieve communication and it stays like a blow in the wind.