Spiritual Attitudes and Awareness in World Cultures
Religious tolerance around the world
The difference here is also fascinating. While I am by no means an expert on spirituality, I am a seeker and also a finder with wonderful spiritual guides. Almost any spiritual truth you send my way will probably thrill me.
I generally find the beauty in all religions and spiritual paths. The truth is the same from so many angles. I love to find that truth and beauty. At risk of offending some, the truth and beauty in all religions and spiritual paths resonates with me. I love reading Mormon blogs and see some similarities to my spiritual beliefs. I also resonate deeply with Hinduism and Islam, and deeply admire Buddhism.
In the US, which has such strong foundations in freedom of religion, Iâve seen a wide range of religious and spiritual beliefs, but generally raised to believe we donât talk about politics or religion (unless you want to pick a fight).
I have many spiritually oriented friends interested in new age or Indian healers, spiritual guides, etc. I also have fundamentalist Christian relatives who have very different beliefs about spirituality. And I have friends who are Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu. In general, I find the religious beliefs in the US are entrenched.
It seems religion is used more to divide than to unify. Christian groups in particular feel they are right and everyone else is wrong, which I find rather discouraging. The war on terrorism is used to discriminate against Muslims. Certain Christian groups are completely insular, not even agreeing with other Christian groups.
The Netherlands seems to approach life in a very laid-back way. Of course there are people from all major world religions living there, and one can find temples, mosques, churches, and cathedrals in all the larger cities. But it does not divide people. It is a fabric of who they are. There may be neighborhoods with one culture more predominant, but the community weaves together.
Bajan life has a strong Christian majority as well as a small but very vocal Muslim group. As far as I could tell, island life is condusive to a laid-back attitude and all seem to co-exist in relative harmony with all worrying more about more mundane details like tourism, taxes, and general island problems. However, I would welcome further comments on this as I felt I didnât see much of the spiritual life in Barbados.
As I mentioned, about 60% of the population of Guyana is of Indian descent. And most of the rest of the population is of African descent. Although there is a Hindu majority, there are also many branches of Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam.
The Guyanese have a very open attitude to religion. Maybe it is the pacifist tradition coming from India, but all seem open and co-exist very well. For the teaching Iâve been doing in the schools, we ask the children what their religion is. Iâve gotten several answers like âHindu and Muslimâ or âChristian and Hinduâ.
I enjoyed the openness to various religions, even religions like Hinduism and Islam, that often fight. But, having said that, I also saw an Indian Swami refuse to talk to an American colleague because her nickname was âAliâ. Ali is usually seen as a Muslim manâs name and the name of Allah, or God. This Swami was so opposed to Muslims that he would not speak to her, even though she was a Unitarian American named Alice.
On the open end of the spectrum, I saw a chart in the classroom of the religion teacher at a Catholic school in Georgetown that highlighted the âGolden Ruleâ from all the religions of the world. The Golden Rule is some variation of âdo unto others as you would have them do unto youâ. They were teaching the children that rule as the basic tenant of human life. They sung songs like, âLet there be peace on earth, and let it begin with meâ.
Peace begins with me
I love the peaceful, open, harmonious attitude, perhaps because it reflects my own feelings. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with the love and openness in each of our hearts.
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