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Spiritual Practices: Hospitality

Hostility, Criticalness

The Basic Practice

We are practicing hospitality when we welcome guests — including strangers and enemies — into our lives with graciousness. An open house reveals certain things about us: we are well-disposed toward others, we focus on the positive, and we believe the universe is basically a friendly place. Sometimes hospitality requires that we cross boundaries and dismantle some of the barriers erected in our society to keep "the other" out. Sometimes it means entertaining ideas that might be alien to us.

To be hospitable, you need to accept pluralism as a natural condition in the world. Celebrate the diversity of the Creation. One particularly valuable spin-off of hospitality is inter-religious dialogue. Spirit speaks in many languages, and this spiritual practice helps us receive these multiple messages.

Why This Practice May Be For You

Hospitality and hostility are both derived from the same word root — but they couldn't be more different. Whereas hospitality is about welcoming all, hostility thrives on insider/outsider conflicts. Practice the former to increase your tolerance of the various groups in our society and their distinctive lifestyles.

On an interpersonal level, hospitality is a good prescription to balance a tendency to be critical of and unaccommodating to others. People who are distrustful of the world, who become fearful and paranoid when strangers approach, or who are suspicious of ideas unlike their own will also benefit from this practice.


Resources on This Practice