Religion: What is the definition of religion?

My quest for definitions means continual self-tutoring. The tutor discusses the definition of religion.

religion: system of belief in and worship of a supernatural power or god.1

Over the past year I’ve been party to several discussions about belief in God. More than one person has indicated that belief in God is distinct from religion.

What, then is the definition of religion? Is it the one above?

I stumbled upon a video on YouTube in which Abhay Charanavarinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada defines religion:

Religion means to understand God.2


1Gilmour, Lorna (editor). Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary and Thesaurus. Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2006.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Tree identification: black hawthorn

The tutor comments on a tree he found back in July.

Browsing through my field guide in early summer, I chanced upon the page about the black hawthorn. Years earlier I’d heard about the hawthorn tree and its potential religious significance, but hadn’t known they grow here.

Reading the description of the hawthorn, I became interested. Nothing specific on the page could I point to that drew my attention. Yet, during the following days, I became preoccupied with that tree; I had to find one.

Driving past a high school one morning, I noticed a tree with grey, scaly bark. At once I knew it to be a hawthorn. I’d seen that tree hundreds of times; suddenly it was important.

That evening I took my wife for a walk to visit that tree. Indeed it is a hawthorn – specifically, a black hawthorn, the native kind.

You probably wouldn’t notice its thorns without approaching closely. However, they’re up to an inch long and command respect. The tree itself resembles an old fruit tree, with a robust trunk.

Visiting that tree, I got a very special feeling that I’d call religious. Given where it stands, hundreds of people pass close by it every day. I wonder how many have stopped to “meet” it.


Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon. Plants of Coastal British Columbia. Vancouver:
   BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing, 1994.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.