As you will know if you have read the, as yet uncompleted, series of posts about God and I, I am not a great one for organized religion. Maybe the main problems with ‘organized’ is that it creates a group who are In and all the rest, who are not part of the group, are Out. As humans we appear to have a need to ‘belong’, and organized religion makes one feel part of a group of specially chosen beings, whose aim is to spread the word and convert others to their point of view. Those that choose not to become part of this group, are lost, according to a lot of organized religious groups, lost forever.
The other major problem for me in organized religious groupings and cults, is that almost invariably this leads to a hierarchy of people that are there to ‘interpret’ what was actually meant by whatever their favourite prophet said, and you who are lower in the rank have to agree to this interpretation and are told how to lead your life in order to be part of the group.
My final problem is a bit more specific, it has to do with most religions preaching that God created everyone and that, in the case of Christianity at least, Jesus died for everyone – which is laudable. How then does a practising Christian reconcile this idea with their sometimes extremely violent disgust of those people who are not in their particular branch of Christianity? We see this in Christians talking about Muslims calling them ‘filthy pigs’ or whatever, and we see it between say a fundamentalist group calling their Christian brothers who are maybe Catholic or Lutheran, wrong. It is the difference between what they profess to believe and their behaviour that causes an acute feeling of discomfort for me.
My solution at the moment, and it is open to change since I shall most probably be Seeking until I leave this earth, is to pursue my own path. I no longer try to belong to any Group, even if there is comfort in being with a group. I no longer want someone else to tell me what to believe and how I should live my life as a consequence of that. I believe that God (Spirit, The One, whatever you want to call him/her/it) reveals itself to me on an ongoing basis, and I know how to live my life. That does not mean I have found the Truth, I have found my Truth – it also does not mean that I always live my life in accordance with that Truth, and when I ‘stray’ from my Truth, there are internal consequences in that I am thrown off balance.
For now, my main philosophy comes from the Bible, and relates to the idea that you should do Unto Others as you would wish them to do Unto You. Nothing fancy, nothing very hard, nothing mystical or obscure – just that. If I don’t like what you are doing to me, then I should look hard at myself, in case I am doing just that to you or someone else. If I want you to forgive me for behaviour that caused you pain or suffering, then I also have to forgive those who caused me pain and suffering. I have come luckily to a point where I am aware that most of my own suffering is caused by how I perceive things, and that if I do not allow someone’s action to ’cause’ me suffering then I won’t suffer. But not everyone has that awareness, so if I make someone suffer and they perceive it as suffering (even if I did not mean to cause them pain) then I need them to forgive me and I need to forgive myself for having behaved in an unskilled way. For me this is an intensely satisfying experience, it means accepting responsibility for how I Am in this world, without relying on sources external to me to tell me what is right or wrong, whilst at the same time being very much aware of the rest of my brothers and sisters and trying to treat them with the same love and respect that I have for myself, and which I would like to receive from them.