Spirituality is one of those topics which I absolutely adore talking about, as long as I’m with people who are open to opposing points of view and recognize the difference between tossing around ideas and trying to convert people. Unfortunately, I also know that these people are hard to find. This means that, under most circumstances, I really don’t discuss spirituality very often in real life.
This means that there are quite a few people who I know quite well otherwise whose declared spiritual beliefs are mostly a mystery to me. They don’t talk about it, I don’t ask, and it doesn’t impact our friendship at all.
On the other hand, there is quite a lot which I can deduce about their spiritual beliefs by all the other things I know about them. Given a person’s way of dealing with difficulties, response to suffering in the world, attitude towards the past and the future, etc, it becomes relatively easy to paint a picture of their spiritual selves. This picture may not match what they claim in the way of religious affiliation, but I think it’s a fair bit more accurate.
This is one of the reasons why it strikes me as odd that some people nearly obsess over knowing about everyone’s proclaimed faith. What really matters is how we live that faith, which speaks louder than the answers we give. And since most of us choose our friends and cohorts according to shared interests and values, the people closest to us are highly likely to share our spiritual outlook in practice, even if we don’t share the same religious label.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s important at all that the people around me share my spiritual practices or agree on a label or doctrine. What is important is that, when it comes to interacting with the world around us, we value the same things. It doesn’t really matter what particular belief or teaching is the source of those values. It’s the end result, the actions driven by those values, which matters in the end.Tags: identity, personal essay, religion, spirituality, values
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