I've been thinking a lot lately about my spirituality and faith. Ever since someone called me out during one of those deep and meaningful conversations that take place over a bottle or three of good red.
When asked to clarify my position on God and religousness (religosity??), I found it very difficult. I was raised and christened into the Uniting Church, kind of a blend of Methodist and Presbyterian, and still feel a pull to go to Church during holidays like Easter and Christmas and take part in those timeless rituals, but find it increasingly difficult to limit myself to this definition. I have never believed in the Bible as a literal interpretation of the word of God, I think we need to remember it has been written and re-written again and again by mere men. Okay sure, they were kings and what not, but still just men, and they surely had their own agenda, right?
And how can I ignore evolution? Sure Adam and Eve is a nice story, helps explain away how God can let all the tragic things in the world happen... "Hey, don't blame me, blame those two, they ruined Paradise for you" but we have pretty conclusive proof that dinosaurs did in fact roam the earth. Oh, and thanks for making woman the downfall of humanity, that hasn't affected us through the centuries at all.
I also don't like the judgement that comes along with organised religion. Take for instance homosexuality. I have very dear friends who are gay, and if I were to take Christianity's teachings to heart, I would have to believe that not only should they not be allowed to get married, but that they as people aren't right, and are "afflicted" in some way. This is patently ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact that they are some of the most genuinely warm, fun, thoughtful and lovely people I've ever known, imagine being told by some stuffy organisation that who you are as a person, how you think, how you feel and who you love, no matter how good a person you are, is wrong and you are damned for all eternity. Not exactly the limitless love and tolerance they preach about is it?
Then of course there are the countless wars waged in the name of religion, and it's contribution to poverty worldwide. Look at the Catholic third world nations. Barely enough food to feed the children they already have, some out of touch old man with no knowledge of life in their shoes tells them that it's a sin to use contraception, thereby keeping the family growing, and even hungrier. Not to mention the battered wives who won't leave their abusive husband because getting a divorce will send them to hell. Like they're not already there.
And I just can't get my head around the thought that Christianity is supposed to be the one true faith. I'm currently reading a bit about Buddhism, and find a lot of the teachings resonate with me, it seems a very beautiful, gentle and loving pursuit of personal serenity, enlightenment and acceptance of others. It just doesn't seem right - are we supposed to believe that just because they don't believe what others do, these light-filled souls would be damned to Hell?
So I am increasingly taking a kind of 'Pick n Mix' approach, which I can't decide whether is just a bit of a cop-out because I haven't the cojones to pick a religion and stick to it, or an intelligent decision to focus on spirituality and enlightenment rather than a list of dogmatic rules. The jury is still out. I am still a work in progress in many ways, most certainly in respect to my spiritulaity. But what I think is important is that I am searching, asking questions, and seeking that feeling of enlightenment. What's that saying the Jewish have? "Knowledge is Light", and at least I'm looking for the light switch.
I certainly believe in a higher power, who I choose to call God, but am slowly starting to think of more as "the Universe". I believe in prayer, but couldn't prayer also just be a wish made to the universe and fulfilled by our very desire to make it so? It's been proven that sub-atomic particles will behave differently in situations during which they are observed by humans, rather than just recorded, so in quantum mechanic-speak, we know that human intention can change the outcome of the physical world, at least on a sub-atomic level. Why not on a grand scale?
What if all the organised religions in the world, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hindu, Shinto, Muslim, Jedi, what have you, all started from different people, with different cultural histories, all attempting to define the same feeling. The feeling that there is something greater than ourselves, an order to the Universe that is just beyond the grasp of our feeble human minds, and that if we could just explain it, have it make sense to us, maybe if we could earn it by behaving better and treating each other better, then we would glimpse Paradise, Heaven, Nirvana??
Having just re-read this, I am not changing anything, but I feel I've been a little harsh and negative about organised religion, especially Christianity. I don't want to offend anyone, or tell they are wrong to believe a certain way. This is just my personal search for meaning, if you've found it, through whatever religion, and believe deeply in it, and gain comfort from it, well than, I envy you that and wish you all the best. Namaste.