Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spiritual Renewal in the New Year

Image by SamHakes, used with permission.

Talk of us and them.
I'm an inside outsider,
Praying for meaning.

For a long time I've felt like an outsider when it comes to religion.  I remember going to church for the last time in 11 years.  I sat there crying and no one noticed; they were too busy gossiping and worrying about their fancy outfits.  When I was a child I asked my father how the Bible can be 100% correct if imperfect people wrote it.  My father said that God watched over the men and didn't let them make mistakes.  Why does God let bad things happen in church?  Why do corrupt churches that have lost sight of the important stuff still rake in the money?  Why doesn't God stop the atrocities that happen in the name of religion?  All of these are unanswerable questions.

I was recently called an atheist by a friend.  The label took me by surprise.  Although there are a lot of things I've been called over the years, atheist was never one of them.  I quickly corrected my friend that I'm not an atheist, but my lingering doubts about religion remain.  After all, I think that none of us really know what we're doing, and we're just trying to help each other along the path.  It truly is the blind leading the blind.

One thing that I find distasteful about religion is the "us" versus "them" mentality.  My friend Maria thinks she's a super Christian, but she hates gay people and people of other religions.  She has not talked to me in six months since I told her that I was taking care of my gay friend who had heart surgery.  I disagree with Maria's opinions, but the problem is that there are millions of people that believe the same exact things that she does.  These people are lost and using religion to justify hate.  I've even heard people with Buddhist beliefs saying things that definitely aren't so Buddhist.  We're all imperfect.  All we can do is to try to live the best life that we can.

I have never been one to make new year's resolutions, but this year I am going to make more of an effort to find a spiritual practice.  I am a bad Buddhist.  I rarely meditate, believe in the sangha but don't have one, and I don't know very much about Buddhist history.  I'm seriously thinking about taking a local Buddhist class or an online Buddhist class and I'm going to try to develop a regular meditation practice.  One way I plan to stay honest about my meditation practice is through my friends at Online Meditation Crew.  When you see @stereonoire using the #OMCru hashtag, you will know what I'm up to.  I also want to continue to work on my health and develop more of a connection with nature.  Tomorrow is my first pickup of fruits and veggies from the organic buying club!  I plan to write all about it on Et tu, Tofu, so check there in a day or two to see the results.  I am so excited about it and just know I'm going to love the great fruits and veggies.

Do you have any resolutions?  How do you define and deepen your spiritual practice(es)?  What are your favorite spiritual activities?


David Ashton said...

I think my resolutions are pretty similar - be more diligent in my practice and go from 97% to 99.5% vegan. Religion - not actually sure what that means. Embracing the unknown and risking discovering I'm not just my intellect? That could be resolution number 3. Thanks for sharing your story - and good luck over at Et Tu, Tofu.

Unknown said...

Beautiful post! I think there is a problem with people who are Christians verses people who are religious. IT's a shame that people don't READ the bible but quote from it often, and much of that is WRONG. I too struggle with my faith, and this post was a reminder that I am not alone. Thanks for sharing.

Helena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helena said...

Interesting topic, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you in many ways and have always wondered why so many people turn their religion into hate. I´ve started to believe it is because their faith is not strong enough. They need to have "them" so that they have something to attack. This way they can keep feeling they are on the right side. Without something to hate, their faith would be weak and they would need to turn to inspect their own true self. It´s easy to unite people if you have something to fight for / fight against - unfortunately the latter is also true.

Without hate and enemies people need to question in their own minds what is right and what is wrong. This is not always easy and it leads to also seeing flaws in self.

I´m sad about the way Christianity has developed. So many cruel things have been done in the name of Christianity. It´s so ironic if you think about the life of Jesus - now we murder in his name.

For a long time I was searching for a religion to call my own. Now I´ve come to accept that it is okay to believe that everything is equally sacred, everything in the universe is holy and godly. Now I believe that the universe itself is the creator and respecting nature is a way to rejoice about this fact. I have turned away from the religions that preach sin and create rules. Rules are good - society can not work without them - but when the rules start dictating the correct way to believe, they create an easy way for people to start judging and hating others.

I´m very interested in Buddhism. But I think it´s a hard path. I´m too scared to take it and I love the wordly things too much to ever become a good Buddhist. I love reading about zen and have a friend who is really following the path, and I admire him. But myself - I´m too lazy. :D