Religion and spirituality are tricky subjects for me. First, I make a distinction between the two. Spirituality is a belief in something that orders the universe. It’s a belief that we are more than just bodies standing around on a planet, that we’re somehow connected to something higher. I think spirituality is organic. Religion is the set of rules people choose to follow as a way of connecting to this Something Bigger than us.
As someone who came out of SRA, I’ve had alot of bad things done to me in the name of religion and spirituality, or at least under the guise of those two. Still, there are people in my life who have found such peace and security through their religious beliefs. I’m truly happy for them and somewhat envious.
Lately, I’ve been trying to find something to provide a little peace in my life. The past was absolute hell, and I’ve only recently been able to say that. The present, for a variety of reasons, can get a bit on the scary side as well. I’m truly working hard to make the future more secure. But I feel like I need something bigger in my life, too. I certainly believe in something bigger, or at least a bigger version of us.
My spiritual beliefs don’t include a god figure. I feel like we have all the questions and answers within us, not as individuals, but as a collective sort of consciousness. Jung called it the Universal Mind. I think this is the reason we sometimes just *know* things or we have memories from places and/or times we’ve never seen. I do believe in reincarnation, although I don’t believe we’ve all been royalty at some point as is the stereotype. I believe in cyclical time as well– that things don’t have a definite beginning or end but rather an ongoing existence that merely changes form. These beliefs have brought me a great deal of peace and security over the years, just as organised religion does for others.
I’d like to think of myself as reasonably open-minded. A dear friend recently invited me to a Christain church service, and I told her I’d think about it. It’s definitely brought her peace and changed her life dramatically for the better. One of my internal people is Anglican, and she attended a few services at the local Anglican church. I know because I got a couple of emails from the priest enquiring as to how I was and saying they’d missed me at services. Yeah. Explain *that* to a man of the cloth.
So here’s the thing– religion is supposed to be a sort of comforting thought pattern that helps people make sense of what can sometimes be a chaotic world. Just *reading* about certain beliefs, though, sends me right over the edge. I attended services at a Jewish temple for the better part of 2005, as that belief system brought me some comfort and the Rabbi was very easy to talk with. Some of the services that included chants set me off, though, and even that became difficult. Catholicism is right out for reasons I’m not getting into.
Since religion has made such a difference in the lives of many people who I know, I’d sort of like to attend a few services with my friend and see how it feels. The hair on my neck stands up at the thought, as I know there are so many images that could leave me to deal with the fall out. I’m just not sure I can go through the hell that would be de-sensitising myself enough to be part of a Christian church on the chance that the beliefs *could* bring peace to my life. My friend would probably tell me that’s where faith comes in, but she has no idea of what religion sometimes represents to me.
I’m looking for order in my life, and peace. I’m looking for that one thing that might make everything else make sense. Religion could be that (although I truly have my doubts) but for now the search continues. Sometimes things just seem like a random mix of happy accidents and collective nightmares, but there’s got to be something more. We all have to find and define that something more for ourselves, and I think some of us spend our whole lives trying to do that. It’s certainly worth some thought.