God, who takes three forms: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. God had a son, Jesus Christ - The Messiah, whom he sent to earth (which he created) to save all of humanity from their sins.
If you are interested in Christian Spirituality or spiritual encouragement quotes and find yourself wishing to learn more about the different religions and beliefs out there, then this article will provide you with a concise, yet comprehensive understanding of many of these belief systems.
Whether you are looking to find a spiritual belief that suits you, or you just wish to learn more about what morals and values these beliefs include, the information that follows can provide all you need to know regarding spiritual beliefs.
In a world rich in diversity, the number of different religions and belief systems can seem a little overwhelming. Everyone experiences times where they need some help and guidance in life, but finding the correct spiritual belief system to consult during these times of needs can be a little daunting.
This article will cover the basics of many popular and world-renowned beliefs and give a little insight to the true values they encompass.
This article will work to cover the following spiritual beliefs:
Christianity is perhaps considered one of the most popular worldwide beliefs, with 31-32% of the world’s population practicing Christianity.
So what makes this religion so world-renowned? It is the opinion of many, that the traditional values of the Christian belief are easily transferrable into everyday life, allowing for useful support and guidance, whilst maintaining a strong sense of faith appropriate and feasible for the hectic lifestyles led by many today.
Christian Spirituality is based on the existence of an omnipotent, omnipresent and infallible entity, God, who takes three forms: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. God had a son, Jesus Christ - The Messiah, whom he sent to earth (which he created) to save all of humanity from their sins.
The creationist theory is that we were all created by God himself and live our lives in free will. How we choose to live our lives determines whether or not we enter heaven or hell in the afterlife - when we die. Living an honest, wholesome life free of sin serves to a greater purpose, in the eyes of Christians, and the Bible, the Christian holy book, provides instruction and guidance as to how to go about this. Some would say that the base values of Christian spirituality relate to The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) which are documented in the Bible.
These commandments are considered rules as spoken by God, by which to live one’s life; including such commands as “You Shall not Murder”, “You shall not commit adultery” and “Honor your father and your mother..”. These commandments are views shared by many, Christians and non-Christians alike, as rules by which to live their lives and even relate to certain government laws ex.. Murder is illegal.
Christian Spirituality encompasses a very traditional, family orientated way of life. Many find the strength of their faith, and the belief that a higher force (God) is looking out for them to be very comforting and supportive. The act of prayer allows a personal connection to their God and the ability to confide in those inevitable times of difficulty and a constant sense of purpose allows for a contented, happy life sought by all. To some, Christian Spirituality is seen as more flexible and adaptable to more modern times, with each individual having the ability to interpret the faith in a very personal way.
Catholicism, whilst considered a belief system of its own, is derived from Christianity with 60% of Christians following Catholicism specifically.
Where Christian Spirituality maintains their beliefs mostly through themselves, and their local priests, the Catholic church is lead by one main figurehead, the Pope. The Pope has asserted that whilst love and trust in God in all his forms is important to the faith, the way people live their lives is also a large factor that also influences whether or not a person is worthy of entering heaven upon their death.
Catholic spirituality places more emphasis on a person’s actions in life and dedication to following religious law, rather than just the trust and love for God and his son Jesus Christ that is portrayed by Christians. It could be perceived that Catholic Spirituality is slightly more strict in certain areas, following religious literature more closely. Like all spiritual paths, this is subject to personal interpretation, however topics such as contraception and abiding the law take more of a significance in comparison.
Judaism is an ancient and well-known religion dating back nearly 4000 years. Only 0.2% of the world’s population is Jewish, however the Jewish Spirituality has influenced more than one religion including Christianity and Islam.
In fact it predates Christianity, arguably the most popular religion, with the Christian Spirituality icon Jesus Christ being written of as a Jew. Like many other belief systems, Judaism is a monotheistic belief, based on the covenant, or agreement, between G-d and his people. Such is the respect for their G-d, that it is seen disrespectful to write his name, usually substituting a letter for a dash.
Jewish people believe that Moses, a prophet of God, lead the Hebrews (Jewish people) from slavery to safety, under God’s instruction. In return God expects the Jewish people to live through faith, and incorporate holiness into their lives in return for being the chosen people. They do this through following the The Torah (the law) which is the Jewish holy book.
This book, similarly to Christian Spirituality, also contains Ten Commandments and is treated with the utmost respect by Jewish people, as well as being considered a source of help in which to refer in times of need. The basis of the Jewish faith was of the Hebrew people, who in a sense, were one big family working together to live a spiritual life.
Consequently, Jewish spirituality places a big emphasis on family, sharing ceremonies and supporting each other in daily life. In fact religious traditions and ceremonies hold great importance within Jewish spirituality in general, with many aspects of the faith making up the Jewish lifestyle as a whole. For example Kashrut, more commonly known to many as Kosher, is a set of laws depicted in the Torah regarding food, food consumption and food preparation which is taken very seriously by most Jewish people, and incorporated into their daily lives without question. With the true meaning of Judaism being “living the faith” Jewish spirituality is encompassed into all areas of life and is the intention of God, and consequently the Jewish people to live a life of holiness.
Islam, Muslim Spirituality:
Islam is another big front-runner in the world of religion with 23% of the world’s population as muslims. This monotheistic belief has influences from Judaism and dates back to 610AD. Despite much bad press in recent years, Islam offers many of the same beliefs and values of other well-known and loved spiritual beliefs and is still followed passionately by many.
The word Islam means “the submission to God’s will”. Muslim people believe in the existence of God, whom they refer to as Allah (the arabic translation). Like Christianity and Judaism, they believe in the existence of Jesus and Moses in addition to Muhammad, another prophet of Allah and who are respected as such.
Their holy book, which holds the laws and guidance of their religion is called The Quran’ran, which depicts the five Pillars of Islam. These include the importance of declaring their faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. These elements are paramount to the faith and help guide them in a holy, pure life until the time of the Day of Judgment. On this day it is believed everyone is subjected to assessment deciding whether they go to heaven or hell.
The Islamic faith maintains that the human race is blessed with free will and that in order to pass into heaven, they must choose to obey Allah in methods such as organized prayer. One big aspect of Islamic faith is generosity, with charity to those less fortunate playing a large part in their lives. Dedication to their faith is also a key quality, with all Muslims striving to make pilgrimage to Mecca, their holy land, at least once in their lifetime, this is referred to as Hajj.
Religious ceremonies such as Ramadan, a month of daylight fasting, are taken very seriously. Being one the five pillars of Islam, this ceremony is therefore considered obligatory except for those with health conditions in which it would be deemed unsafe. Although by some, the Islamic faith is considered very strict, it is undeniably followed with great passion and respect by many modern day Muslim people, who have endless belief in the spirituality being key to their happiness in life.
With 376 million worldwide (7% of the world population) as Buddhists, this spiritual belief system may be less common that other more well-known religions, but is nonetheless highly revered by many.
Buddhism is considered more a set of spiritual traditions and beliefs rather than a set religion in the sense that there is no specific God figure. Buddhism follows the idea that life is a path one must follow in order to ultimately achieve “enlightenment” or “nirvana”.
The origins of Buddhism can be traced back over 2000 years, to the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Evidence has shown he was born into royalty and lived a privileged life, until encountering a sick man and a corpse.
This prompted him to renounce his previous luxuries to live a harsh, poor life as a monk. Neither of these paths lead him to happiness so he consequently pursued a life of neither luxury nor poverty. It is the belief of Buddhists that life is ever-changing, made up of both happiness and suffering and that life is a personal journey of enlightenment and rebirth.
Nothing is permanent which can offer comfort in difficult times, with the promise that it will not always be this way. To those following Buddhist spirituality, the ability to draw on the real-life experiences of the Buddha makes it more relatable. Buddhism in itself is all about learning and self-discovery and therefore is very personal to the individual allowing them to focus solely on themselves and their personal aspirations in life, whatever they may be. Meditation, morality and wisdom are the key focuses regarding Buddhism, and followers of the faith seek to enrich these areas in everything that they do.
Taoism is perhaps one of the lesser known belief systems in modern day society, being considered more a philosophy than a religious belief. With no reference to a specific deity, the Tao can be most accurately translated as “The Way”.
This set of traditions/philosophical understanding can be traced back around 2000 years to ancient Chinese customs.
There are said to be around two million followers worldwide, with the majority residing in China. Given this native origin, certain links and common characteristics can be observed with that of Buddhism. Taoism, alternatively known as Daoism in relation to the Chinese pronunciation, incorporates many traditions and beliefs regarding the ways of nature among other things.
The Tao itself has challenged many people when it comes to truly understanding and explaining the belief. In fact the ancient scriptures of Tao Spirituality, “Tao Te Ching” and “Chuang Tzu' Inner Chapters” state that The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
Subject to interpretation, many read this to mean that Tao is not anything that can be accurately defined, neither a thing nor a force that can be perceived, however it’s effects can be observed in almost everything.
There are many important aspects of Tao including concepts such as Feng Shui, meditation and Yin Yang. The belief in Yin Yang for example, refers to the idea that all around us there are opposing, yet complementary forces and patterns, and extends onto the belief that everything in the universe and within nature is interdependent, all working together as part of a bigger picture.
Like Buddhism, followers of Tao observe the belief as a system of guidance rather than a religion, and pursue personal development, self discovery and a path of learning rather than worship of a specific God. Like some religions,
Taoism does incorporate temples, monasteries and priests but in a different manner.
Spiritual places such as Tao temples are embraced as a place of learning, increasing individual knowledge of the Tao and aiding personal development in relation to it. Much like Buddhism, the personal role of each individual as part of the universe as a whole is of great importance and striving to gain a higher sense of spiritual enlightenment is fundamental to the belief system.
Founded over 500 years ago, followers of Sikh spirituality amount to around 0.35% of the world population, with the majority residing in India. The Punjabi word “Sikh” can be translated as disciple, referring to their role and relationship in regards to God.
Like other monotheistic religions, Sikh spirituality involves a holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib and incorporates a place of worship or church, a Gurdwara. However there are several key differences in the ideology of Sikh spirituality in relation to other religions.
A strong theme in Sikh faith is equality between all people irrespective of race, gender or religion. Everyone is the same in the eyes of their God. It is the belief of Sikh people that there is only one God and he is the same for everyone regardless of religion. Although respectful of other religions, Sikhs maintain the belief that good actions are more important than merely performing rituals, in respecting God and living a good life.
There are key values within Sikhism that are a strong part of everyday life, these include:
- Honesty and strong work ethic
- Equality to all
- Compassion in helping others - selflessness
These are seen as rules by which to live one’s life, with many Sikh people regularly contributing to charities and treating everyone respectfully regardless of who they are.
“By falsehood and deception, none have found Him. Whatever you plant, you shall eat. - Sri Guru Granth Sahib”.
This quote helps to explain the devotion to living a good and honest life that Sikh spirituality entails, with the intention of a closer union to God. Again following the belief that you reap what you sow, treating others well, doing good and maintaining honesty will ensure a happy life for all.
Hinduism can be seen as a quintessentially Indian religion, with 80% of Indian people naming themselves Hindu, but with 900 million Hindus worldwide (15% of the world population) Hindu spirituality is growing in popularity beyond just it’s native origins. It’s roots link back to 2000 BC with many perceiving it as one of the oldest living religions.
Unlike some other religions, Hinduism is considered by many to be a polytheistic belief.
However, while Hindus worship a variety of gods, these all relate to the characteristics of their one supreme god, Brahman. Hindu people believe that no religion is right or wrong, merely they are different paths to the one supreme God, giving Hindu spirituality an air of tolerance in understanding for faiths other than their own of which holds great importance to their way of life.
Values indicative of this sense of compassion and other important themes can be observed in the sacred Hindu scriptures - Veda.
Like almost all religious systems, Hinduism dictates that everyone is responsible for their own destiny and that spiritual beliefs help to guide one on their personal path in life.
Certain deities serve to remind and support all areas of life, and are worshipped in regards to this. Vishnu is one of the many God’s valued greatly within the Hindu faith. He is seen as one of three gods born of the supreme God Brahman and Vishnu in particular represents the preservation and upkeep of life and of the world.
Hindu people celebrate Vishnu and other important deities, often creating shrines and also participating in festivals rich in color and good spirit. Hindu spirituality is above all an appreciation as to the sanctity of life. All life is considered sacred and to be celebrated on a path to spiritual awakening.
Paganism or Pagan spirituality is in many ways a collective term for types of spiritual beliefs.
There are many specific beliefs including Wicca, Druidism and Shamanism, which are all encompassed within the bracket “Pagan”.
Overall there are thought to be around one million followers of Pagan beliefs worldwide, which although seemingly less than other religions can be attributed to the fact that it is one of the more modern belief systems. It is the opinion of many that Paganism truly began to present itself in the 1960s and has grown more popular in recent years.
Paganism is another spiritual system not depicted as a strict “religion” due in part to the lack of a specific doctrine. It follows folklore and mythology with followers are free to interpret, and choose areas of which relate more deeply to them.
One area respected by all descents of Paganism however, is the importance of nature and it’s forces. Many Pagan people worship nature and Gods,
Goddesses and spirits they relate to natural forces. Fire, for example, considered a product of nature is seen to have great power and is respected in the way other beliefs respect deities.
Traditions and rituals vary greatly from person to person with some taking interest in magic and spiritual force and others focusing more on spirits and gods, but one theme that truly stands out is the value of community spirit. Festivals and rituals are common to Pagan spirituality, with places of interest including the famous Stone Henge.
Large gatherings of Pagan people take place in landmarks such as this, where beliefs are shared and discussed, worship takes place and stories and traditions are shared.
For those of you who have taken an interest in spirituality and the various different paths people follow, then hopefully this guide has provided you with a source of reference to gain a little insight into many of the spiritual belief systems in the world today.
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