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Since the beginning of time human beings have continuously searched for evidence and an explanation to answer the great questions of human experience, Is there a supreme being? Who am I? Why is there evil pain and suffering? And is there life after death? Discovering the meaning of life and a way in which to live it has always been important to human being and religion does this through its characteristics, beliefs and believers, sacred texts and writings, ethics and rituals and ceremonies.
Is there something else out there? Is there a Supreme Being? In order to find out where we are going the human race must establish where they came from and who is the ultimate creator. Religion uses sacred texts and stories to tell the tales of creation of which span quite diverse. This element of religion also relies heavily on the belief of the believers as the only evidence is on texts that have few credible witnesses and this is why belief is such an important characteristic of religion.
Who am I? And why am I here? The search for the purpose of existence. Religion gives meaning to life as it demonstrates human nature and the way in which life should be lived. Ethics is a common characteristic of religion that is used to distinguish boundaries and establish morals to determine what should be accepted and which acts should be looked down upon, punished and not accepted. The Ethics characteristic of religion is the base of the modern worlds entire social system with direct reliance of the characteristic of Rituals and ceremonies, which also plays an important part of putting these ethics to practice. E.g. in Catholicism confession is undertaken as the wrongs committed by an individual are reconciled and made up for.
If there is a supreme all controlling being why does he allow pain and suffering of his people? Religion often answers this question by suggesting that everything happens for a reason. Belief is the key to this element as the believer must have faith that there is a reason and that greater forces will make thins better if they rely on faith. Sacred texts support this with the bibles constant references to God testing people in order to amend them later. Buddhists refer to this suffering as Dukkha and if this pain and despair is overcome then it will end and a far more pleasurable path will open for the person this relies on belief and the following of ethics.
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Possibly the most important question that the human race seeks answers to is, is there life after death? Or is this all that there is? Every religion believes that death is not the end of our entire existence and this belief is the most appealing to people when either “shopping for a religion” or seeking faith in your own. Rituals of religions reflect these beliefs, for example Muslims believe that after death the soul waits in barzakh until judgment day. God will deal with everyone accordingly and the dead will be restored to their bodies. This is why Muslims do not cremate their dead reflecting their rituals and ceremonies importance. This is important in the search for the meaning of life as the morals and ethics of a religion are obeyed in hope of something after death reflecting the importance of laws and ethics in a religion.\
Obviously these elements will have to be continuously satisfied by religion as the human instinct of curiosity and self-preservation seeks answers to the great questions of human experience.
The dreaming permeates all aspects of aboriginal life
Dreaming is fundamentally the religion of the Aboriginal people. It reflects all their beliefs and displays their historic and emotional link with the land from which they came. The dreaming translates to aboriginal people how the world works and demonstrates through story telling why things are as they are. The dreaming for the aboriginal people is the beginning of all things. Aboriginal dreaming permeates all aspects of aboriginal life through the rituals and ceremonies, beliefs and believers, ethics and morals and sacred texts and writing. The dreaming is extremely important to aboriginal people as it plays an important part in almost all aspects of aboriginal life displayed in the dreaming wheel including the land, rituals, spirit beings, hunting and gathering and mythology. These make up a large part of the aboriginal way of life, which is determined by the Dreaming and therefore the only religious guidance on the aboriginal people.
The most important element from the aboriginal dreaming wheel is the land. The significance of the land to the aboriginal people is enormous “when we walk on mother earth we always plant our feet carefully, because we know our future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground”(1). Aboriginal people treat the land with the utmost respect, as they believe that they all form from it. The aboriginal people use the land to answer the question of what lies in the afterlife. Their beliefs lie in the assumptions that the land is not dead the “land is alive with the power of the ancestral beings that live in it” (2). The aboriginal connection with the land is emphasized through their rituals, which reflect rights and obligations in regard to particular sites, stretches of country, animals, and people. This varies form tribe to tribe as the ritual and sacred sites change reflecting different land connections between aboriginal tribes. In ritual, people transcend everyday life and are able to establish direct contact with Dreaming spirits. This important facet of aboriginal life from which they take only what they need is the land and it plays a deep and meaningful role in the religious aspect of aboriginal life known as the dreaming.
Mythology plays an important role in the lives of the aboriginal people. Mythology of the aboriginal people is passed down from generation to generation-through song and dance and often art. Mythology explains to aboriginal people why things are the way they are. Stories known universally as dreamtime stories have a message that reflects often the laws and ethics of aboriginal life. An example of this would be a story with the intention of gaining respect for elders, this story would demonstrate the possible consequences for not making use of their wisdom. This is an important part of aboriginal life as it shows what is acceptable in their society and what is looked down upon. This mythology is known as the dreaming as it focuses on the importance of tradition and rituals as it explains the aboriginal way on life.
Rituals in aboriginal society are of the most sacred compared to any civilization that the world has ever encountered. However they set the foundations for respect in the aboriginal society. Aboriginal people have festive rituals and ceremonies, when the whole tribe sings and dances in honour of the ancestral spirit who is responsible for the way things are. There is also the initiation type of ritual where younger members of the community are rewarded with new roles within the intensely organized society. These initiations are meaningful and serious and are sex discriminative. Aboriginal rituals are often shown to the public in modern times but some are considered for their eyes only and many of these were lost during the stolen generation. Although depleted rituals will remain an important facet of aboriginal life as is illustrates the dreaming and interprets its messages.
The afterlife is important in any religion and for the example of the aboriginal people it is through spirit beings. According to common aboriginal beliefs after death the spirit of the person is set free and deeply connected to the land. These spirit ancestors are developed through aboriginal sacred sites known as spiritual burial grounds. These spirits live on in the next generation. “When a women conceives it simply means that one of these spirits has gone inside her, and knowing where she first became aware that she was pregnant, the child, when born is considered to be reincarnated from that spirit ancestor from that spot and therefore is associated with that totemic group”(3). This emphasizes the faith and belief that is needed by the aboriginal people to belief that they will be looked after by dead ancestors. This stance has also been adopted by certain other cultures believing that our loved ones are looking over us. This displays the strong family bonds that exist in aboriginal life and how the dreaming creates these bonds through the rituals. (5)
Aboriginal society relies heavily on its ability to hunt and gather. Traditionally hunting is left to the men who set out on expeditions as a group and bring back what they need to the tribe. Although hunting aboriginal tribes still maintains the utmost respect for the lands were every tribe has certain animals that they cannot harm. Similarly whilst gathering a task left to women certain plants and trees cannot be harmed. This is due to the aboriginal peoples dreaming link with the land, which is different with each tribe, and therefore each tribe has different rules whilst hunting and gathering the most important aspect of aboriginal life displayed on the dreaming wheel. Aboriginal people the believers believe that the land will always provide for them and universally all tribes have a rule to take only what is needed. This ways the land is never harmed and their mother nature is constantly regenerating. The dreaming teaches all of these ways to the aboriginal people who relied on the same methods of hunting and gathering for thousands of years.
In conclusion all facets of aboriginal are deeply described in the dreaming. The dreaming in a sense is the whole aboriginal culture as it reflects the past present and future of aboriginal society. Rituals, beliefs and believers, morals and ethics, sacred texts and stories all combine in the aboriginal dreaming as in any religion to supply a way of life for an entire people where their questions, aspirations and potential can all be recognize in a full functioning society. The aboriginal dreaming permeates all aspects of aboriginal life as it is reflected in a special way to the aboriginal people the dreaming is apart of aboriginal people as they are apart of the land.
Source 1: direct quote
Source 2: direct quote information
Morrissey, Mudge, Taylor, Bailey, Rule
Living religion third edition c2005 Pearson education
Source3. Direct quote
Aboriginal tourism and art center Alice Springs
Source 4: Knowledge and information
Source5: Knowledge and opinion