At a time when traditional cultures mix, meet and sometimes clash, the risk of lapsing into intolerance, discrimination, or even extremism is great. The United Nations now reports that almost half of the armed conflicts raging on the earth at any moment have a religious component.
Furthermore, as globalisation overturns the secular and religious structures in our society, many people seek new reference points to deal with the sharing of the earth’s resources. In recent years, all of the religious traditions have seen a proliferation of their radical and less tolerant elements. Even so, the essence of the many different spiritual traditions practiced in the world today remains alive and empowering.
To survive today, each one of us must find our own place in the apparent contradictions between tradition and modernity, the safety of community and the need for individual freedom, the security of institutional religion and the vitality of personal devotion.
The conventional “world religions” studies, an approach that concentrates on the basic facts, dates, doctrines and scientific observation of the major religious traditions and their adherents, is simply not enough. If we are to achieve peace, it is critical that we rediscover our own spiritual tradition and learn to appreciate how traditions different from our own are experienced by their adherents.
Learning about lived religions* means exploring spirituality from the inside, looking at how spiritual practice evolves over a lifetime and from place to place. It means asking how a tradition inspires people to do and be their best. Taking the lived religion approach even farther means getting involved, being open to different cultures, participating in our neighbours’ festivals. It means sharing responsibilities and submitting to a certain personal and collective discipline in order to attain both internal freedom and a just world.
*’Lived religion’Â is an ethnographic and holistic framework used by experts in religious studies. The term refers to the beliefs, practices, and everyday experiences of religious or spiritual people. The term ‘lived religion’ has its origins in French sociology of religion “la religion vÃ©cue”. Wikipedia – retrieved 29 May 2014