Experiencing the world, learning from the adventure, and appreciating the remarkable diversity the world provides has been a major priority for us on this around-the-world trip, in particular as an education for our kids. One important aspect of education and understanding the world is to have some familiarity with how people view the world from a philosophical or spiritual perspective. We have travelled to countries in which the world’s major religions were founded and/or have significant roots: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in Israel, Hinduism and Buddhism in India. We’ve seen and will see a variety of interpretations of these religions; Buddhism in Nepal, India, and Thailand, Christianity in Europe, Israel, and Australia, Judaism in Israel, Hinduism in India and Nepal.
Religion is an expression of people’s desire to understand themselves and their environment within a spiritual or mystical context. Each religion has adopted traditions, ceremonies, and customs to make the metaphysical tangible or at least to express a concept of the religion within a ‘manageable’ context. We have seen many of these customs throughout our travels.
We’ve visited churches, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, temples, ashrams, and stupas as part of our journey. In Hinduism in particular, one can find shrines and icons of the religion everywhere. The following are pictures of several Hindu icons, each topped with evidence of worship in the form of colour powder, flowers, and food.
While visiting a Buddhist temple In Nepal, the monks entered into their main hall and invited us to join them for their ceremony. We took a seat on the periphery while the monks sat and chanted words from their scriptures. At specific times, they blew horns, beat large drums, and rang bells. Other monks prepared offerings of food as part of the ceremony. As guests, we each received a package of food containing puffed rice and fruit. We left before the ceremony was completed but were highly intrigued by what we had seen.
As I read in “The Life of Pi” several weeks ago, all religions are a reflection of the very human search for meaning beyond one’s self. They include expressions of worship and praise, of gratitude, of our significance and insignificance in the cosmos, and of our responsibility to the world, both seen and unseen, around us.
I’m so grateful to have had all these experienced together as a family. We have had many important and stimulating conversations as a result. Our lives, spirituality, and faith are richer for it.