Respecting spiritual difference

There are many different spiritual and religious beliefs represented in Australian society. Learning about them helps us to become more understanding and respectful. But ultimately, it comes down to simply accepting that we are all different and entitled to our own beliefs.

This could be useful if you:

  • Are not sure about spirituality
  • Are not sure why some people are spiritual
  • Are clashing with someone over spirituality
  • Want to know more about spirituality
Two girls' hands

It's okay to be different

Both religion and spirituality have been used over time as a way of discriminating against individuals because of their beliefs. Though spirituality and religion are two different things, they both can inspire some pretty heated debates. 

Though there is no reason that a person needs to practice either spirituality or religion, it is important to learn to respect people’s different beliefs even if you don’t agree with them. 

The first way of beginning to respect different forms of spirituality is to learn about them. Even if you don’t agree with the premise of the spirituality or disagree with the point of someone practicing spirituality, learning more about it could help you respect the practice.

There is a lot of misinformation about spirituality in the community, so learning about what it really is can help you gain an understanding and respect.

Ways you can do this are by:

  • Reading a book about spirituality
  • Going to talks and presentations around different forms of spirituality
  • Talking to people you know who identify themselves as ‘spiritual’ about their experiences

Try a different point of view

Though spirituality may not work for you, it’s worth thinking about why it might work for other people. Different people use spirituality for different things, but trying to learn why a person seeks solace in spirituality might help with understanding it a bit more.

Everyone comes to spirituality for a different reason and it’s a very personal thing, but some reasons people begin practicing spirituality include:

  • They have spiritual faith but are no longer religious
  • They grew up in a family that embraced spirituality
  • They want to explore the meaning of life
  • They have experienced loss or grief
  • They think it might help with stress or release of emotions

The bottom line

Just like gaining cultural understanding about someone who comes from a different country or culture, understanding more about spirituality might help ease some pre-existing assumptions and inherited prejudices you may have.

However, learning more about spirituality does not mean you have to practice it yourself. Spirituality is an entirely personal thing, so you should never feel pressured or forced to engage in the practice.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 04 September, 2015
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