Negative Spirituality

January 26, 2020 • Human

Bali, an island infamously known as “Pulau Dewata” (The island of gods), is one of the region which the majority of its inhabitants are devoted Hindus. Growing up in the island of Java, with more influences from Abrahamic religions, it brings a fresh air to learn more about the diversity and spirituality.

Yet as time goes by, I notice a general theme of spiritual focus that is prevalent across Indonesian people, irregardless of specific religion.

Have enough talk with Indonesians and you will heard sayings like, “The flood/earthquake/disaster is God’s punishment for a wicked city”, “You’ve got into trouble for not praying enough”, “Don’t do ___ else you will be cursed”, “it is a ceremony to get rid of evil spirits”.

What do all of these have in common? Yes, they are all focus on avoiding negative outcomes.

That spirituality docus can be split into two camps: positive spirituality and negative spirituality.

A positive spirituality believes in a loving and kind higher power. Such belief may translate to narratives such as loving God, that the world is good, and a road leading to forgiveness and oneness with the universe, be it achieving a state of Nirvana or communed with Jesus Christ.

Conversely, a negative spirituality believes in a punishing higher power. Such focus may come in form of bad karma, curses by evil spirits, or being sick regarded as a form of punishment for sin.

In theory, it is the same as two main factors that motivate people to do anything. People do whatever they do either to gain something or to prevent losing something. One focuses on the positive while the other focuses on the negative.

Usually people have both in balance, which can also be found in Balinese view of living in harmony, and balancing the light and shadow. Similar concept as yin and yang.

However when people focus too much in negative spirituality, it may have an impact to one’s well being.

An article at Psychology Today stated that how spiritual people in general have better well being. However, any negative spiritual beliefs appears to be associated with worsen health outcome irregardless of one’s positive spirituality.

Therefore as a nation that puts religiosity as its primary value, it is very important to drive spiritual teachings towards more positive spirituality.


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