beyond religion

I love religion. The most challenging aspect of my life, for quite a while, was how to live a spiritually centered life without religion. I had come to the realization that religion is the story of someone else’s relationship with the Divine and I wanted to live from my own story and relationship with the Divine.

How does one do that when one adores all the rituals and machinations of religion? I had no doubt religion was not a necessary part of life, but I still cherished so much of what it brought into my life.

For me, the solution was to pray about it. I asked my Highest Self, I asked loving beings surrounding me, I asked the ether.

I don’t know who I asked, I simply asked. And, after asking repeatedly, I made sure I also listened. I listened and listened and listened.

I have researched religion since my teen years. I was always yearning to better understand the deity I was taught to look toward for support, generosity, and mercy. I found that people who claimed to believe in deity were often unkind and unloving to one another. That experience brought up many questions for me.

How is religion so beautiful, yet it holds such abhorrent relationships?

The older I got, the worse the situation seemed. Abusive religious people, pious people who knowingly violated their religious beliefs, religious people who turn a blind eye to maltreatment of others, people who use drugs every day and go to church high and refuse to shift those habits. So many opportunities to realize that religion is only as good as the people claiming it! It could easily become angering or depressing.

At this time, I’ve come to see that an “either/or” mentality is the greatest undoing of a spiritual person. A spiritually-centered life can include religion, but religion should not define it. Religion is a kind of box, a realm of limitations and rules. Those rules may not apply to one’s life and one will find themself contorting to apply the limitations and rules to one’s life.

What if we just took what worked for us and left the rest?

Many people will argue that a life lived like that is irreligious, but all religions have come from the mentality of taking what worked for the initiator and leaving the rest. All religions. And, those initiators were no more special or interesting than the rest of us. We all have our path to walk and all paths lead to the same place, whether or not we agree.

I still love religion. I study them voraciously. But, I do not allow myself to be bound by them. This is the same relationship I have with emotions. I have them. I love them. But, I do not bind myself to them. They are meant to be in flux. Religion is meant to be in flux, as well. Otherwise, it ends up constricting the very lives the Divine has given us within which to experience the abundance of life. That seems to be a sort of “playing God”, yes?

I have found that the more I study, the farther I go in my search and journey, the more and fewer questions I have. Both, simultaneously. Both more and less.

Life is amazing like that. More. Less. Perfect.

Now, if I can be said to have a religion, it is Love. And, from that, a freedom arises.

Photo by Spiral11 on Unsplash

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