Native American Spirituality - Religious tolerance
As in many religions, Aborigines share a belief in a celestial Supreme Being. During a novice's initiation, he learns the myth of Daramulun, which means «Father,» who is also called Biamban, or «Master.» Long ago, Daramulun dwelt on earth with his mother. The earth was barren and sterile. There were no human beings, only animals. Daramulun created the ancestors of the tribes and taught them how to live. He gave them the laws that are handed down from father to son, founded the initiation ceremonies and made the bull-roarer, the sound of which imitates his voice. It is Daramulun that gives the medicine men their powers. When a man dies, it is Daramulun who cares for his spirit. This belief was witnessed before the intervention of Christian missionaries. It is also used only in the most secret initiations of which women know nothing and are very central to the archaic and genuine religious and social traditions. Therefore it is doubtful that this belief was due to missionary propaganda but is truly a belief of the Aborigines (Eliade, 1973).
Religions of the world Menu Native American Spirituality
After an Aborigine dies, the news is quickly communicated to all clan groups, no matter how distant, in which kin members are living. The messengers approach distant groups and display the collection of clan totemic designs with which the deceased was affiliated. The displays alert people in the camp of their kin relationship and their responsibilities to the dead person. The messengers may also sing songs that hint at the person's identity, but they never reveal the name (Lawlor, 1991).In some tribes, certain mourners must not speak for some time, and in all, the name of the dead may not be mentioned for months or even years. The taboo against pronouncing the name of the dead is strictly observed because it is believed that the vibratory pattern of the person's name can act as a hook or anchor to which the spiritual energy of the deceased can attach itself and thereby remain on earth (Lawlor, 1991). In addition, any persons or objects bearing the same name must no longer be referred to by that name (Elkin, 1964). In traditional cultures, name avoidance may prevent provocation of the spirit. Whereas in today's societies, avoidance of a name may avoidance of pain due to loss (DeSpelder, 1996). Widowed Aboriginal women also maintain vows of silence, even after remarriage, to publicly express sorrow. Many of these women will communicate to one another in sign language. In Indian yoga, vows of silence are believed to instigate rapid inner changes. This aspect of silence would benefit Aboriginal women, who must completely restructure their lives when they move from one marriage to another (Lawlor, 1991). In many other cultures, women have distinct restrictions placed on them after a death. An Islamic widow must wait four months and ten days before remarrying (Parry, 1995).
The most fundamental concept of death in the Aboriginal tradition is the doctrine of three worlds, the unborn, the living, and the dying, and the Land of the Dead. Therefore their concepts of death are their concepts of life. Each individual passes through these domains only once. After death it is the profound responsibility of the living to ensure that the spiritual component of the dead person is separated from this world and can proceed to the next. The Aborigines believe, as do Native Americans, that the notion of reincarnation depends on two factors: (1) the obsession with the illusion of individuality extends into the belief that the ego survives death and remains intact in the afterlife; (2) such cultures have lost the knowledge of burial practices that assist the spiritual energy of the deceased to separate from the earthly sphere, and so the spiritual atmosphere is polluted with fragmented, disembodied, energies of the dead. Fragments of spirit from the dead can interact with the living, sometimes inhabiting, shadowing or controlling conscious behavior and destiny. The Aborigines say that the atmosphere of the earth is now saturated with dead spirits and that this pollution parallels the physical pollution of the biosphere -- both of which contribute to the self-destructive course of civilization (Lawlor, 1991).
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Approaches to Aboriginal health care are now starting to incorporate traditional healing practices. Traditional healing is "holistic" in that it does not focus on symptoms or diseases but rather deals with the total individual. Healing focuses on the person, not the illness. In his statement to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples a non-Aboriginal doctor, David Skinner, testified that “It is our belief that because our white man’s medicine is very technical-oriented, very symptom-oriented, very drugs- and surgery-oriented, that it lacks something that Native medicine has, which we desperately need but don’t practise: spirituality….In many of these things we are talking about — family violence, alcohol abuse, trauma, suicide — I believe that the Native public health nurses, Native nurses, Native doctors would have that in their approach as well — a spiritual component.
1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal …
As in ancient Egyptian and other traditions, the Aboriginal journey to the other world is imagined in a sacred bark or spirit canoe with a mythic ferryman at its helm. Water itself is often used symbolically and associated with death, especially in African culture (Parry, 1995). The ancient Greeks also had such a belief with the skeletal ferryman, Charon, who travels the River Styx to the Underworld. The spirit canoe sets out across the sea to the island of the dead. In many world myths the helmsman is an important figure at the beginning of the journey toward death. In the Aboriginal belief, he is always abusive. He beats the men and rapes or demands sex with women. The beating or rape by the helmsman symbolizes the severe assault and trauma the consciousness undergoes in its initial separation from the body (Lawlor, 1991).