It’s time to talk about spirituality – Monash Lens

In discussions about the challenges of the Religious Discrimination Bill, the discourse on the role of religion in public life is gaining momentum. An important conversation has been opened about religion, where it belongs and if it is still relevant.

As we descend down the rabbit hole and begin to explore what religion means in our society, we also need to take a look at spirituality. Our society will benefit from bringing spirituality into the discussion as it will mean that we can share different views on the subject creating a safe space.

Religion and spirituality are often linked without any clear line separating them. One way to think about religion and spirituality is to go “outward” and “inward” respectively. Here, “outside” refers to institutionalized beliefs, while “inside” refers to a personal search for meaning and purpose.

Coming from a Hindu background and a spiritual seeker, I find myself in this space of being spiritual and religious, whereas for some spirituality is something completely separate – in other words, people who are spiritual but not religious.

Spirituality is more present than you think

All in all, you have to think about spirituality, whether with or without religion.

What I am referring to here is spirituality as a belief about life and how to exist in this world with that belief.

People subscribe to their particular beliefs or follow certain ways of life, which may be to show kindness to another person or simply to be a good human being. As a result, their actions are informed by their personal beliefs, principles, or philosophies about life. It is the way we are in the world when we interact with others; it is there that we draw our strength to face the challenges.

All of these factors are underpinned by his spirituality.

The presence of spirituality in our society is more real than we think. However, sometimes, due to the ambiguous nature of spirituality and its association with religion, spirituality is seen as something to be feared or avoided.

For those who are spiritually inclined, it is an integral part of their lives and influences everything they do. This means that their spirituality is fluid and fluid. Therefore, locking spirituality into people’s personal lives due to misunderstandings or fear of offending others does not allow them to live authentically.

Spirituality in an Aboriginal context

In the Australian context, spirituality has long been an important part of Indigenous culture. Indigenous spirituality is tied to connection to the land, sea and sky, and to the ancestral spirits that are the source of existence.

In this way, the interdependence between the natural elements – the earth and the animals that inhabit it – is an important aspect of indigenous spirituality. This spiritual landscape of the Aboriginal way of life provides a perfect backdrop for addressing the topic of spirituality in public discourse.

Moreover, in our multicultural society, which includes the bricks of various beliefs and religious affiliations, spirituality can act as a cement that holds and strengthens the wall.


Read more: What we can learn from Indigenous Australians about living in harmony with the country


An overview of Australian census data on religious affiliation shows the need to consider spiritual beliefs within the population. According to 2016 census data, 52% of the population is affiliated with the Christian religion, while 8.2% is affiliated with other religious beliefs. In addition, 30.1% of people chose the “No religion” category.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, “no religion” includes “secular and other spiritual beliefs and no religious affiliation”. Thus, the fact that “No religion” is attributed to the second largest sector behind Christianity draws attention to the place of spirituality in the public sphere.

A chance to see different perspectives

An openness to talking about spiritual beliefs presents an opportunity for true dialogue. This can be created by speaking about one’s beliefs as one’s own truth and reality without expecting others to follow suit.

This is similar to what Anna Simpson suggests, about new ideas that bring different ways of thinking and understanding into context.

It is by sharing ideas about spirituality that it is possible to see different perspectives and ways of being in this world. An open conversation about spiritual beliefs will help avoid misunderstandings about other people’s beliefs.

There is everything to gain from these discussions, as they will create richer social interactions. Additionally, exchanging difficult ideas in this way will lead to open communication, which in turn will support harmonious communities.

About Michelle Anderson

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