I’ve spoke a bit recently about my take on faith and spirituality, finding my faith etc.
I suppose I’m technically more spiritual than religious, but if someone asked if I was religious, my response is pretty much the same: ‘In my own way.’ I’ve mentioned before that reading verse from holy books is calming for me. I also love yoga and the mental clarity and calm it gives me, as well as helping my physical health.
I like to think I take a pretty open-minded approach with regard to the world. That’s how I was brought up, in multiculturalism, and seeing prejudice and racism in the world that’s not a way of thinking I ever wish to entertain.
I’ll be quite blunt here: the dogma of organised religion is something I absolutely loathe and detest. I respect different faiths and even practice some teachings, resonating deeply in basic Christian teachings and very fond of the Buddhist concepts of oneness and meditation. In past posts I’ve also talked about Quakerism and Unitarianism, and how certain principles there resonate with me. I love nature and yoga. So I can’t say really that I belong to any one wholeheartedly. Learning about the world and everything in it is just in my bones, but some don’t take too kindly to that. Hence, the ‘in my own way’ answer.
But I can’t stand dogma. The ‘fire and brimstone’ for doing things that are, by today’s world, very normal. One thing that particularly irks me are doomsday preachers, regardless of belief. I feel quite awful saying this, and I try my best not to judge, but it’s difficult not to judge what is essentially, a very judgemental faction among different beliefs. Science, religious or both.
The ‘believe what I believe or you’ll burn in Hell!’ crowd. The ‘sex/masturbation is sinful’ crowd. The ‘if you believe in God, you’re automatically stupid’ crowd. The ‘if you’re not sure, you’re stupid’ crowd. Granted if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. But what’s right for some is not right for others. That’s what many can forget.
Many will vehemently disagree with me, and you are more than free to. For example, I was once told if I ever became Christian, I would have to stop doing yoga because it was ‘idolatrous’ because of its history of ‘worshipping other gods’. That, and that I would have to stop sleeping with my boyfriend until we got married. That isn’t for me. Plus, weddings are expensive, so we’d be waiting an awfully long time!
But I like to think that’s not how God, or whichever higher power(s) it is (if there is, that is. Truth is, I don’t know, but I like to believe there is) is like. I’m very lucky in some ways to have experienced kindness within different faiths.
When I was 15, I visited a mosque with my family for a school meeting with the local Muslim community. The meeting was in a large room, part of the mosque, that was like the equivalent of a church hall. For all the prejudice against the community (particularly towards the men) I can safely say we were welcomed with open arms, and the women treated like princesses.
When I was 17, I unintentionally stumbled upon the Rosary prayers when visiting a Catholic church. I was not brought up Catholic, so all the droning voices begging the Virgin Mary to pray for us sinners was very alien to me. I was already in the middle of the aisle so I felt rude to just walk out, so I sat on the pew very awkwardly. After a little while, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and there’s an elderly Filipino woman with a bright smile and a spare set of rosary beads. As the prayers went on, she taught me how to pray with them. I’ll never forget that and even now, sometimes I wonder how she is doing. I’ve not seen her before or since.
Personally, I firmly believe that we can’t strictly abide by what was compatible 2000 years ago. Let’s face it, we no longer take animals to our priests to sacrifice at the altar every time we have sex, do we? (For those who understand that Old Testament reference, I applaud you!) As you can tell, I find studying the history and context fascinating.
The way I see it, faith or lack of aside, we’re all in the same boat, aren’t we? I’m very much part of the ‘can’t we all just get along?’ crowd.
That’s really where my ‘spirituality’ so to speak, comes from. Learning. I have to learn. I need to learn. History, religion, crafts, I have a thirst for knowledge. And with so many debates about anything and everything, I like to learn as much as I can from going straight to the horse’s mouth. That comes in the form of reading books, watching documentaries and learning from history.
Some may think I’m intensely misinformed for this approach, and they might be right, but I like to think I’m not doing any harm by learning as much about the world as possible, fuelling my desire to expand my knowledge and try to be as good a person as I can. Not to act all ‘holier than thou’ by ANY stretch, that’s just how I roll!