Already defining what religion is poses a difficult task for researchers. Hammer (2004) argues that this is in principle not possible, but suggests that "religions move with a set of symbols, stories, beliefs, and behaviors that ultimately refer to a persevering reality." 19). Spiro (1966, referenced in Rizzuto, 1979, p. Religion is "an institution consisting of culturally patterned interactions with culturally postulated superhuman beings." Bauman (1997) argues that "'Religion' belongs to a family of curious and often embarrassing concepts which one perfectly understands until one wants to define them" (s. 165). According to Carl Gustav Jung, writes Jones (1991), religion was
The traditional shepherd of the process of indiviuation. Its symbols and rituals resonate to those repressed but significant aspects of the unconscious, both individual and collective. Religion had served in the past to keep men and women open to their depths (Jones, 1991, p. 5).
In their study on popular religion in Dalarna, Frisk and Åkerbäck (2013) choose to define religion as a philosophy of life based on certain existential and super-empiric assumptions, namely "ideological elements that deal with the meaning of life, what happens after death or notions beyond an empirical basis such as notions of energy dimensions in the body or the existence of extrahuman beings" (p. 18).
In the English-speaking world, "spirituality" is used for a category that is superior religion. Does english "spirituality" have the same connotations that "spirituality" has in our language? Possibly not. To say "I am spiritual, but not religious" is perhaps somewhat more obliging than when, for example, the American says "I'm spiritual, but not religious". Chryssides (2007): "Finally, spirituality is about finding meaning in one's life: receiving guidance for life, obtaining answers to qustions about why we are here, what the purpose of life is, and what may happen after we die" (s. 14).
Then there is the great area of "neo-religion" (Frisk, 1998) which can be said to be a subdivision of spirituality/spirituality, but on the same level as religion. In religious research, however, such modern spirituality has so far been treated rigidly and seen as inferior or atypical compared to the major world religions (Sutcliffe & Gilhus, 2013, p. 2). Frisk (1998) has proposed two subcategories of neo-religion: "New Age" and "New Age". Representatives of the first category are often organized around a specific doctrine and clearer leadership (the author cites the Scientology movement and Hare Krishna as examples), while spirituality in the second category is more often disorganized or semi-organized and with a greater freedom for the individual to define his or her faith and how it should be practiced.