Global Spirituality

Spirituality in one form or the other can be found in every part of the world. The desire to be one with nature is universal.

Most world religions apart from Buddhism, believe in creation. Everything has their source from a non-dual spiritual being of infinite intelligence. In Hinduism all around you is “Brahman” in different forms. African spirituality emphasises a supreme being that is a hybrid of masculinity and femininity and to which all other gods are subordinate. The Abrahamic faiths namely Judaism,Christianity and Islam all believe there was a beginning during which the Almighty god created the universe.
Buddhism on the other hand stresses gaining knowledge through meditation. If one can elevate oneself through meditation to a state of total nothingness;a void so pervasive that it has no room for a creator, like the Buddha himself, you can achieve enlightenment (Nirvana).

FIGURINE OF BUDDHA

Most Europeans before Christianity were pagans or heathens. These words evoke images of war-like and godless barbarians. For them however, it was a way of life that required reverence for nature and the life cycle. In fact there is a resurgence of pagan practices around Europe today.

They were not monotheists and worshipped gods/goddesses for various occasions. For example, the Celtic goddess of war was Medb. Her popularity began to wane during the onset of Christianity. Offerings were made to these deities more often in the form of animal blood. There was also an aspect of ancestral worship.
A noteable individual was elevated to the status of a god when they died and were revered by posterity.

Most of Europe was colonised by the Romans. It was during this period that Christianity took root in Europe. The Romans had a policy (pax deorum) of incorporating the gods of the conquered peoples into their pantheon to make Roman rule more acceptable. The following link explains the spread of Christianity.

SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY

The generation of hippies in the sixties were not overtly religious but they were quite spiritual. Some practiced meditation and even followed eastern religions.
With immigration, as other communities are forming in Europe, it is fast becoming a smorgasboard of spirituality.

When mention is made of spirituality in Africa, stereotypical images of witchcraft and voodoo are conjured up. These exist but they do not define African spirituality in its totality. Unscrupulous people have selected particular aspects of their culture, more often for personal gratification, to perpetrate their shady practices.

The word for the Almighty god existed in most tribes long before the advent of the missionaries. That being the case, they must have known about god before the missionaries came. They were convinced ( sometimes forced) to abandon their system of beliefs and practices,which were irrational and barbaric vis-a-vis the quasi-scientific religion of the missionaries. This link gives more perspective on African spirituality.

INTRO TO AFRICAN SPIRITUALITY

It would be remiss not to mention Confuciunism and Taoism (Daoism) when talking about spirituality in China. Though not a religious creed, Confuciunism ( introduced by Confucius), placed emphasis on social order. It has had such a deep impact on Chinese culture that even communism was not able to eradicate it. It venerated family life and advocated that people should be true to their role in these relationships.”A parent must be a parent. A child must be a child. Honour your elders.

Respect those with greater experience. Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Confucius’ teachings were collected in a book called the Analects.

Taoism or Daoism( by Lao Tzu ) on the other hand preached that the Tao/Dao was beyond description. Everything is subordinate to the Tao. It was nature itself.

It is reflected in the holistic living of some Chinese people.

Exercises like Tai-chi, their diet and philosophies keep them aligned with the forces of nature which are conducive to a healthier and longer life.An audio book of the Tao Te Ching( book of the way) is freely available on youtube.

Before talking about Buddhism in China it would be wise to mention something about its origins. It was founded by Sidartha Gautama in 5th century BC in north-eastern India.

It stresses the impermanence of the world. True knowledge can only be gained through practice and not by faith. The ultimate aim in Buddhism is to gain enlightenment (spiritual awakening – Nirvana) through practice.It was achieved by Sidartha Gautama later to be known as the Buddha.

Out of the 2500 years that Buddhism has been around, the first 500 years was spent exclusively in India. After this, monks started moving to other parts for example Thailand and Cambodia. In the next wave of movement, the Buddhist teachers continued to move eastwards ( the mahayana tradition ) into countries like China, Japan and Korea.

During these movements, their was a reciprocal influence between the local cultures and Buddhism. The Chinese were particularly influenced by Therevada( veneration of the elderly) Buddhism.

PRACTISING BUDDHISTS IN CHINA

After several centuries Bhuddhism moved up the Himalayas into Tibet. It bonded with the local culture to become what today is known as Tibettan Buddhism.

THE DALAI-LAMA

Hinduism originated in India. Its basic tenet is that the “Brahman” underlies all reality. Everything that you see are just different expressions of the “Brahman”.It is a system of beliefs not credited to anyone. Many sects have evolved from the original religion and they all have their gods/goddesses and encourage the practice of Yoga.

In Yoga, sages of ancient India have tried to device a system of physical exercises designed to keep the mind and soul in harmony with the forces of the universe. These are documented in the Yoga sutras.

YOGA IN INDIA

The Yoga sutras start with the aphorism “Now begins the exposition of Yoga. Yoga is the cessation of the changing modes of chittav consciousness. Through Yoga, the seer abides in his own self. Through out our lives we identify our self with the changing modes of the chittav consciousness”.
Patangeli – compiler of the Yoga sutras,said that our true selves become entangled with outside forces that keep us out of balance with the universe. The practice of Yoga help us disentangle these layers.

Another major world religion is Islam. It was founded in Arabia by the prophet Mohamed. He was born in Mecca in 570AD but spent the latter part of his life in Medina.
It was never claimed that he performed any miracles in his lifetime. The closest he came to performing a miracle was the provision of the Quran, the Islamic holy book.

It was by shear force of his will and jihad ( holy war ) that Islam became a global religion. Initially every Arabian clan had their own god. Mecca was a lively town for Arabian merchants who worshipped their tribal gods at the Kaaba. At that time the Kaaba consisted of over three hundred gods. Legend has it that the Kaaba was initially a white stone. It took on its present colour from continually absorbing the sins of pilgrims.

When Islam was established, any devout Muslim was expected to make a pilgrimage ( the Hajj) at least once in their lifetime to Mecca and visit the Kaaba.

While in Medina, the prophet Mohamed was able to build an army of faithful that he used to spread Islam in Arabia and eventually around the world. He put an end to idol worship at the Kaaba and people should start worshipping Allah who is invisible and superior to all the other gods. Allah is responsible for creation and has been there before time.

Initially Muslims faced Jerusalem during prayers. Apparently, the prophet had a vision of angel Gabriel after which Mecca took the place of Jerusalem.

Today Islam is increasingly becoming associated with extremism in the popular press. In fairness it must be remembered that iconic structures like the Taj Mahal, medicine,mathematics,science in general and virtually every branch of knowledge has been influenced by Islam.

THE TAJ MAHAL

There are other people, though very often sidelined, that need to be taken into account when talking about world spirituality. One such people are the Aboriginals of Australia.
A particular story about creation that is popular in their folklore is the one of the rainbow serpent.

At the very beginning before any change ( as far as they are concerned time is a man-made concept) the universe consisted of the earth at the centre and a huge expanse of void. The earth was filled with red sand and beneath that sand was contained the first birds,trees and the rest of life form of our planet. They were all asleep. The first of them to wake up was a serpent that had all the colours of a rainbow. The earth at that time was perfectly flat. The serpent created the hills and valleys as it roamed the earth. The rest of life form woke up to populate the earth to become what we see today.

The native Indians of north America have a strong reverence for nature. Their folklore has it that the original god was a wolf god. This was dethroned by the eagle and the bear.
Their culture is slowly being submerged into the cultures of settlers from Europe and other parts of the world. However, some native Indians are still very active in preserving their culture. For example the Lakota Indians have what is known as “walking the red road” and “walking the black road”. You are said to walk the red road when your spirit is in equilibrium with the universe. On the other hand, the hustle and bustle of modern life tend to make you forget about spiritual matters. This neglect slowly gets your spirits out of balance with nature and it is only a matter of time before it is reflected in the physical realm.

Spiritual cleansing is achieved with the burning of sage. Apparently, the smoke obtained from the burning of sage takes the bad spirits up with it. This is followed by the burning of sweet grass for good luck.

Spirituality and human existence are inextricably linked. Where ever there are humans, spirituality in one form or another exist. Atheists do not believe in god. However, there is something that they hold in the highest esteem. That, it can be argued, is a form of spiritualism.

One Reply to “Global Spirituality”

  1. Los motivos más comunes de infidelidad entre parejas son la infidelidad y la falta de confianza. En una época sin teléfonos celulares ni Internet, los problemas de desconfianza y deslealtad eran menos problemáticos que en la actualidad.

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