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 Spirituality and culture

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Romana
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PostSubject: Spirituality and culture   Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:03 pm

I would be interested in other members' thoughts on an idea I have pondered for quite some time, namely the interplay of culture and spirituality. Earth-based spiritual paths like native American traditions, Druids, Wiccans, Hindus, are often intimately tied to culture, with language, dress, food, and local customs woven into both myth and spiritual practice. How do these elements influence the spiritual experience? If the same universal truths can be discovered through any of these traditions (all paths lead to the top of the mountain), does the cultural context of one's spiritual path matter? Does all this suggest that one will make the most spiritual progress within one's own inherited cultural tradition? Is it presumptuous to follow the spiritual path associated with a culture not your own?

With native American traditions in particular, there is often the sentiment that those of non-native background should not partake of native spiritual customs and practices. Non-native people are often just as vocal as native people in criticizing other non-natives for doing so. This is not without cause, as some non-native people borrow native traditions in a cavalier manner, piecemeal and without the necessary respect or understanding. But is it merely a matter of respect, or would these seekers do better to follow practices in their own cultural traditions?
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lightsun
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PostSubject: spirituality and culture   Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:58 pm

I think each of us must follow our hear and listen to the Holy Ghost or Great Spirit within us all.
None of the traditions, this could be construed as blasphemy, have the real/total truth. There
are many reasons for this. Let us say, that all the great teachings are inspired, by hopefully
good men. We humans are an improper conduit for the Truth. We live in restricted realities,
unaware of the total truth. Seeking the truth is a life long process. Listen to your heart, and
you will recognize where ignorance creeps into the teachings. Because the teachers are a
product of their limited culture, life experiences, and environment. It is a limited perspective
The first limitation is the human condition and ignorance. The second is equality and fairness
of perspective. Where are the women's perspective? Don't they have something to offer?
Of course they do. Summary : (1) None of the teachings are complete. (2). They are inspired
by God or the universal consciousness (3). Man's ignorance creeps in. (4). Each of us must
listen to the God-force within us & sift through the inconsistencies and untruth's that creep in.
This is but part I.
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lightsun
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PostSubject: spirituality   Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:41 am

Romana, you asked a lot of questions, filled with controversy. Different people will have a unique
slant of an answer. There are those with a fundamentalist, orthodox, and conservative perspective
who do not wish outsiders to contaminate their blood, views, or religion.
Romana, "...intimately tied to culture, with language, dress, food, and local custom woven into
both myth and spiritual practice." and "...borrow Native traditions in a cavalier manner,
piecemeal and without the necessary respect or understanding." Both are absolutely true.
There is no easy answer. As a tangent a Muslim will convert to Christianity. A Christian will
convert to Buddhism or, especially due to marriage, convert to Judaism and so on.
We live in a multicultural world that is ever shifting. In reality, there will be shifts out of one's
culture in order to embrace another cultural or spiritual world view. I believe we should and
must follow our heart's, being ever mindful, and ever respectful of one's new chosen path.
Romana, "...do better to follow practices in their own cultural traditions?" and "Does all this
suggest that one will make the most spiritual progress within one's own inherited cultural
tradition? Is it presumptuous to follow the spiritual path associates with a culture not your
own?" My opinion is no to these questions. It is a case by case basis. There are those who
make a sincere, conscientious decision to learn all about a culture that spiritually calls out
to them, & their heart. Their own born into cultural traditions may leave them hollow and
incomplete. Jesus once asked who was his mother and brothers. It was those who shared his
spirituality, even if they were thousands of miles away. Conversely, those born in the same
family or culture, may not be spiritually connected.
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lightsun
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PostSubject: spirituality and culture   Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:34 pm

Respect and utmost humility should be shown when approaching another culture not your own. Interested in
attending a powwow? These are the basic guidelines.
Listen to the master of ceremonies.
Remove your hat, and stand when others do.
Seats inside the circles are reserved for performers.
Do not dress like an Indian or mimic the Native people.
Do not touch a person's regalia (outfit) without permission.
If you are asked to dance by an elder, do so. Saying no is disrespectful.
Pick up your trash.
Support the people via donations or by purchasing items at vending areas.
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Romana
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PostSubject: Re: Spirituality and culture   Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:30 pm

I have seen this advice about powwows somewhere - I cannot recall where. I sometimes do dress like an Indian - a person from India, that is, not a Native American. I have a friend from India who introduced me to sarees and salwar-kameez outfits, and now that is what I often wear when I must dress up for a social gathering. It makes wonderful ritual attire as well. I have received some interesting reactions from people when dressed this way.
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lightsun
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PostSubject: spirituality and culture   Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:00 pm

This is quite interesting. I guess or suppose it goes down to respect. I had two friends who were
blood brothers, that is not related by blood but rather by spirit. They were both adopted into
the Cherokee nation by Grandmother, an elder. I will not use names. One of my friends of the
two was very angry with the white man, America, the American flag and so on. For him the
Native way was to be kept separate from the white man. My other brother/friend was Caucasian,
but was a man of peace, and practiced the Native way. He shared Native teachings. Eventually
my friends-spirit brothers split, because of the friction between anger & peace. As for Grandmother,
she is an elder and wise one. She shares teachings, but not all. Some are secret knowledge. The
white man would not understand the teachings or give it false meaning.
There will always be those who disrespect all other cultures out of ignorance.
Then there are those who honestly seek to learn the best that other cultures have to offer.
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Romana
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PostSubject: Re: Spirituality and culture   Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:19 pm

lightsun wrote:
There will always be those who disrespect all other cultures out of ignorance.
Then there are those who honestly seek to learn the best that other cultures have to offer.
Does this make sense? Of course, we should learn from each other. But if we pick the best of this and that, will we have an inconsistent and incoherent melange, or will we have something better (whatever that means) than any of the original source cultures? Do we need to have "a" culture, or is it satisfactory, or even preferable, to be a little bit of many? If we enjoy our own culture, or perhaps that of our spouse, is it healthy to focus on that, provided we do not denigrate others, or is this still overly limiting?????
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PostSubject: spirituality and culture   Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:00 pm

We each have independent paths. That is why I like the Hinduism saying, that there are many
paths to the top of the mountain. There is no definitive answers. I think that the SP SJ NT NF,
go about it in different ways. And even within the sub types there are differences.
Romana, "Do we need to have "a" culture." Obviously everyone has a culture. Speaking for
myself I do not embrace being a Caucasian, American, Judeo-Christian, or of European descent.
Because this question is difficult and convoluted, I may go in an around way. Nonetheless the
above characteristics have influenced me. (1) Some embrace their culture and have great pride
and patriotism. They embrace their country, race, religion and say, "We are the best."
(2) Others, like myself, love our country, but have a "We are the world" attitude. I believe in
we are all interconnected and equal. We are one world. The first example may stay within their
culture. The second example with to spread their wings and experiment, wishing to see all "truths."
Summary (1) we all have a culture, whether we wish to or not (2) some stay within their culture,
and see no reason to experiment. They already perceive themselves to possess the "Truth.
(3) some wish to disavow or more concisely transcend their culture. They follow their heart.
They search for truth. When it resonates with their spirit, only then are they content.
I will address more points in a second post.
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PostSubject: spirituality and culture   Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:32 pm

"...if we pick the best of this and that, will we have an inconsistent and incoherent message,
or will we have something better...any of the original source cultures?". If we pick and choose
everything at face value, we will indeed be confused. I do not know the truth of this, but I would
think those that are literal minded, stay within their culture. Those who take things in a
metaphorical sense, follow their spirit. I discover the truth, which is handed down by the
ancients. More importantly it must resonate within me. Yes, this makes sense and I feel this
to be true. So, in a sense I am discovering my own religion that is already deep inside me.
So, I personally take the wisdom's of different faiths and cultures. I do not take anything at
face value and follow it rigidly. When I read something and it does not resonate or go with my
own moral code, I discount it. So (1) there are those who follow their religion, race, & country
rigidly and then (2) I am on a path of self discovery, resonating outer truth's with my inner heart.
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Romana
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PostSubject: Re: Spirituality and culture   Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:50 pm

lightsun wrote:
Romana, "Do we need to have "a" culture." Obviously everyone has a culture.
That used to be the case, but now, after generations of immigration, intermarriage, and mobility, many people have several cultures. At least in the U.S., few of us can claim four grandparents from the same cultural background, and sometimes their four backgrounds are quite different. What, then, is the culture of such a person? The americanized mishmash of all-of-the-above? If one chooses to focus on one or another part of one's heritage, is this disrespectful of the ignored parts? What, if anything, do we owe our forebears in this regard?

I do not know the answer here. I have not even identified a personal working answer. Please, therefore, do not interpret my remarks as being categorical or adamant. I am pushing at this only in the interests of shaking loose ideas.
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PostSubject: spirituality and culture   Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:31 pm

Romana wrote, "...but now after generations of immigration, intermarriage..." and "...few of us can
claim four grandparents from..." and "...one chooses to focus on one or another part of one's
heritage, is this disrespectful of the ignored parts? What if anything do we owe our forebears..."
Interesting and many poignant questions. Ultimately it is an individual choice.
Speaking for myself : I am part Belorussian, & part Puerto Riccan. I did not grow up in the
customs of either. I therefore feel no allegiance to either.
What is American culture? Wrestling, hollywood, materialism, Nascar, sports, shopping, gossip,
Republican Vs. Democrat, etc. I personally do not feel a connection to any of the above.
I think again, it goes to individual choice and temperament. (1) if one grew up with a language
& culture, then they have an affinity. I.E. I have Puerto Riccan cousins who speak the language.
Both of their parents speaking Spanish. They, therefore, conceivably could possess a culture, I do
not.(2) there are independent searchers for truth & affinity. This view, follows one's heart &
transcends real, reality facts of heritage.
I feel an attraction to Celtic culture. As such, I could conceivably adopt a culture and make it my
own. My personal philosophy is that I owe little to my forebears. I live in the here and now. I make
my own destiny. I have an independent journey. I must make my own way and find myself,
borrowing the "truths" of many cultures. It is an adventure of self discovery. My view transcends
individual race, or country. Others will have different views.
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