It is unfortunate that we do not have at our disposal a more precise word than “religion” to denote the experience of the sacred. This term carries with it a long, although culturally rather limited, history. One wonders how it can be indiscriminately allplied to the ancient Near East, to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, or to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism as well as to the so-called primitive peoples. But perhaps it is too late to search for another word, and “religion” may still be a useful term provided we keep in mind that it does not necessarily imply belief in God, gods, or ghosts, but refers to the experience of the sacred, and, consequently, is related to the ideas of being, meaning, and truth.
Mircea Eliade, preface to The Quest