Religious officials have warned that Barbados and the rest of the region have become too focused on secular possessions and that they are in danger of ignoring their spirituality.
Principal of Codrington College Reverend Dr Michael Clarke warned that there was a need for a renewed emphasis on the spiritual aspect of life while likening the journey to that of fishermen.
He explained that while there were various methods of fishing, so too, it is with people with respect to spirituality. He was addressing the opening of a two-day Timeless Spirituality symposium at the Codrington College on Friday, under the theme The Spirit Moves Over the Waters Bringing Life and Light to All Who Seek.
“Firstly, let us note that we approach this work from various points of reference and differing points of view. We have launched out into the depths of spirituality in separate vessels. There is no single and exclusive vessel if we are to arrive after a long journey on the shores of truth. The journey itself requires that each vessel reflects the formlessness of its unique environment,” Clarke said.
“Over time, this mutual focus has become less balanced resulting in more attention being paid to the material. This continues to be a grave danger as it can even encroach on that aspect of human practice, which is intended to be focused on developing awareness of spirit,” the Anglican cleric added.
He warned that religion, if not watched carefully, could “more serve temporality” than what it is intended to serve–“the journey within”.
“As the journey continues, there is now the need as well as the inclination to engage the two dimensions: While in the physical realm delving equally as deeply into one as into the other. We now gather together in the hope for a renewed emphasis on the spiritual aspect of life especially within the religious movement of our time. How can we assist in deepening the awareness of spirit for ourselves and others? What are the tools that can assist in this work? What are the contributing factors from temporality that would enable us to inhabit this other dimension of life?” Clarke asked.
Pointing out that different religious traditions were using various measures to move away from materiality and “turn the attention inward,” Clarke said the challenge was not about whose methodology was correct.
“All paths set with this intention will lead to the ultimate state of heaven, nirvana, oneness, bliss, of the many names used but representing one reality. The challenge is to be conscious of the water from which one emerges and to use that water as fuel on the journey home,” he noted.
Among other things, the two-day symposium will see a number of experts and scholars from around the world exploring various theories and practices relating to spirituality in the Caribbean context.
Following the symposium, the Codrington College will also be introducing a diploma course in spirituality that begins in the next school term.
Canon Noel Burke said although the Caribbean was a place where religion was taken seriously, there seems to be a separation “where people say ‘I am a spiritual person but it is not connected to a formal worship.”
“One of the things we have realized across the world, and the Caribbean is not exempt, is the fact that we have become rather materialistic, . . . we talk about the things that are passing away rather than the things that endure,” he said, pointing out that the symposium was also designed to address that issue. (MM)