Aboriginal Spirituality - 1

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Does a ‘truth’ which has been identified during the early development of a religion remain relevant in today’s world? Hypothesis: The land is the basis for all Australian Aboriginal Spirituality. Without their reverence for the land there would be little spirituality or enduring method of communicating their way of life. For some 40,000 years the framework for Australian Aboriginal spirituality is their belief that all objects are living and share the same soul or spirit that Aboriginals share. The basic Aboriginal spiritual belief is invariably about the land Aboriginal people live on. ‘This belief is ‘geosophical’ (earth-centered) and not ‘theosophical’ (God-centered)’ ("What is Aboriginal spirituality? - Creative Spirits", n.d., p.1). This means that Aboriginal spirituality is inextricably linked to the land on earth, they say “it’s like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is where I’ll go”. (S knight, page 1 – www.creativespirits.com) The land is the means of everything, their food, their culture, their spirit and identity. They do not own the land of this earth, the land owns them. ‘The land is their mother, their mother is the land. Land is the starting point to where everything began’ . (S knight, page 1 – www.creativespirits.com) Aboriginal people make no distinction between the secular and spiritual life. Aboriginal spirituality is a total way of life, with their total regard and respect of the land as the centre point of their spiritual existence.

The basic principle that supports the Aboriginal spirituality is a notion commonly referred to as the Dreaming. The Dreaming is a term referring to Aboriginal spiritual beliefs about origins of the universe and existence of all life and objects. It determines all relationships, responsibilities and laws which must be adhered to for living harmoniously and with reverence for the land.The Dreaming is therefore inextricably connected to the land, because as previously mentioned the land is the physical medium through which all aboriginal spirituality is based. The Dreaming is communicated between the believers through art, song, dance, story and ritual and therefore instills the knowledge and understanding to all Aboriginal societies about creation. It is the responsibility of elders to pass on the knowledge of the Dreaming to the younger generations.

Because the Dreaming is an all consuming belief incorporating the past, present and future into a total and present reality it is completely relevant to the Aboriginal believers today. According to Aboriginal belief, ‘all life as it is today whether it be human, plant   or animal is a part of a vast unchanging network of relationships which can be traced to the ancestral spirits of the Dreaming’ (Religion & Belief Systems in Australia, page 1, para 1). Aboriginal people regard the process of Dreaming as a life-long quest. Once this life-long quest is over in this realm, an Aboriginal person’s soul or spirit is believed to “continue on after our physical form has passed through death”, (Eddie Kneebone – Aboriginal Reconciliation Campaigner and Painter – Creative Spirits). After the death of an Aboriginal person their spirit returns to the Dreamtime from where it will return to the land through birth as a human, an animal, a plant or a rock. The shape is not important because each form shares the same soul or spirit from the Dreamtime. On analysing Aboriginal Spirituality I believe it to be unique. Some people may argue that it is a religion similar to Christianity, Islam and Judaism because like these religions the Aboriginal person’s foundation for life is taught through historic stories, paintings and rituals. However, unlike the mainstream religions, Aboriginal Spirituality is forever evolving and therefore the stories, paintings and rituals constantly growing. In addition, Aboriginal Spirituality is all encompassing and totally dependent on the land, this earth. Unlike...
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