Religion does not have a monopoly on God. This is what I’ve come to realise after years of solo soul searching.
As a child, I still remember my feelings of frustration for not being able to see and talk to God. I longed to get to know God, an almighty being who sees, hears and knows everything, but who no one could see, hear, talk to or touch. This supposed to be powerful God, which the atheists insist to be non-existent, is to this day indescribable, unknowable, unfathomable and mysterious.
As an adult and when I found the courage to do so, I embarked on an armchair soul searching by reading books from various authors from different belief systems and philosophies, and also re-read the bible. As expected, the resulting effect is I became confused, disillusioned and dissatisfied. However, I got to know a few teachers who I resonated with and, over time, helped me develop my own thoughts on a god I can believe in. Not surprisingly, I disconnected from religion, which I narrated and explained in my ‘Losing my Religion‘ blog series, but somehow retained a belief in a god (reasons of which I will explain more in the future). This after lots of reflection, contemplation and rumination! The whole of existence having one than without makes more sense to me. That there is an overall mystical, super-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-hearing figure (or figures) controlling the workings and laws of nature and the universe is reassuring to me. I also surmise science will one day catch up and confirm the reality of spirit life and the existence of a supreme being; and that you don’t have to belong to any religion, go to a specific church or other places of worship to connect with god.
Having kept my new beliefs and opinions to myself, I now share my thoughts and lay my cards on the table so family and friends understand where I stood where a deity is concerned. This is not to say they read my blog, but if they do, then they’d stop wondering why I’ve stopped going to church (except on special occasions). They also won’t try to put me back into the fold, so to speak, or recruit me to their ”brand” of religion because there is no turning back for me. I consider myself free.
For the religious, these thoughts could be sacrilegious; for the atheists, these are silly and meaningless. For the religion-less but non-agnostic and non-atheist like me, what I believe now — believe it or not — has made me stronger, I have less fear and am guilt-free. Depending on your beliefs or spiritual perspective, you may think me courageous or foolish. However, don’t you worry about me. You see, the ”fire and brimstone and hell and damnation” that most religions teach no longer work on me. I feel more happy now, contented and comfortable where I am spiritually, even if I’m taking this spiritual path alone – no family or friends to walk the path along with me.
My musings may not make sense to others but they do to me. I welcome your comments. We can agree to disagree. 🙂
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Love thoughts or thoughts on ‘God’:
- Love, honour, remember and thank God but do NOT fear God. [Praise is something god doesn’t want/need so it’s not on my list.]
- Why must God be feared? Do good not out of fear of the ”wrath” of God.
- If humans are capable of ”unconditional love,” how much more God?
- God isn’t one-dimensional, boring, uncreative or unimaginative. God didn’t only make one spiritual path.
- God encompasses all. There are many paths to god. Take one or… none.
- God would never say ”It’s either my way or the highway.”
- If there is a God and God is as God says God is, then my God is your God is our God.
- To love God is to love him, her, them, us and yourself. *
- I stopped referring to God as he. Nor did I ever refer to god as she or it. But I found a new definition of god: he, she, it, we, they. *
- If God is love, then love is the right religion, the one true path. *
- If God is the god of all, if God is everywhere and anywhere, if God sees, hears, watches all, then there is nothing to fear.
- If God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, eternal, no beginning and no end, then there is more to life than we human beings can ever see, comprehend, imagine or believe.
- God doesn’t think like a human being.
- Therefore: God is not racist, sexist, xenophobic, elitist, ableist, homophobic, fatist or a speciecist.
- We are each unique and all races are equal in God’s divine eyes.
- God is NOT callous, dictatorial, hateful, impatient, insecure, jealous, needy, prejudiced, temperamental, unforgiving, vengeful or vindictive. **
- God has a sense of humour, I’m sure!
- If God has no sense of humor, then God isn’t real.
- God would want me to love my life, believe in myself, have fun, be happy, love all, take care of others—including the animals— and love and be kind to myself. God wants the same for you.
- God is so much, much greater than what any religion can ever teach us.
* Inspired by Brian Piergrossi
** Inspired by Neale-Donald Walsch
Is there a one true religion?
For many years, I tried to find an answer to that simple question. Approximately twenty years later, I come to a disappointing but inevitable conclusion that it’s not that simple after all. There is no human being alive in the olden days or at the present time, nor any one holy book in existence, who holds and can provide all the answers to everyone’s satisfaction.
Because of this, I no longer have that longing to know. There is no more ‘gaping hole to fill’ or an ‘unending thirst to quench’ for me. After many years of futile searching, I rest… and lose my religion anyway.
I can disregard, cover my ears and turn a blind eye on my other previously-mentioned reasons. However, what made me to finally see the light, so to speak, is:
4. my growing interest in the theory of reincarnation.
Let me tell you upfront: I don’t claim to be Cleopatra, Machiavelli, Queen Nefertiti… or any high or low profile personalities, male or female.
Simplistic my reasons may be for believing in reincarnation, but I certainly don’t believe that just because no one at the present time can present empirical evidence/conclusive proofs of its reality, that it’s definitely not possible or not real.
I first read about reincarnation when it was featured in a magazine called ‘Panorama’ that came with the newspaper that my father used to subscribe to years ago. I remember reading that one could live as a human being in one life and then become a cockroach in the next life. It sounded horrible and at the same time laughable. I remember shaking my head and dismissing the idea of reincarnation outright.
I didn’t know it at the time but different religious groups’ beliefs on reincarnation differ and many don’t believe the above.
It was during my armchair soul searching many years later when I revisited this concept of reincarnation and made an effort to look at it again more objectively.
Why does reincarnation appeal to me after dismissing it initially? Reincarnation, if real, makes absolute sense to me now. If you dare look at it with an open mind and give it some genuine thought, it can shed light to a lot of things.
Edgar Cayce, whose story I read about voraciously (among other numerous books I read that touched on the topic of reincarnation), obviously had a major influence on me. But as this particular post is really just to ‘confess’ my final reason and conclude my ‘Losing My Religion’ story, I will explain more later why I chose to believe in reincarnation (including a continuing belief in a supreme being).
Ask every one of these groups which is the one true religion. Each religion, major and minor, old and new, including their respective denominations, will raise their hand and claim LOUDLY and assuredly theirs to be the one true one.
I ponder this question one last time: Is there a one true religion?
Don’t bother to raise your hand as it’s clear to me now: There is no such thing.
As I disclose my reasons for losing my religion, I remember and repeat an old saying that I heard my father say a few times:
All roads lead to the same place
and, may I add, these include unchartered, unnamed and unmarked roads that are less travelled. One of these roads I may be traversing solely, bravely. Would you dare join me?
Next topic: Holiday!
I mentioned about my ‘talent’ for sitting in one place and mentally escaping into my own world in spite of all the noise. At Catholic churches during mass it isn’t possible, what with all the rituals you have to perform: you sit, stand up and kneel a few times; fall in line for a communion; sing hymns; respond to the homily, etc.
It didn’t happen overnight, this change of heart of mine about my religion and all religions in general. In spite of this disconnect though, I retained my belief in God. I’ll have a deeper explanation about this in future posts.
If you are happy with where you are spiritually, whichever belief system you have, that’s well and good.
If you were never a believer or do not have any beliefs now, that’s alright too. I now believe God, for all the greatness that God is, is not bothered by it. I will also tackle later why believing in a ‘super power’ (and I’m not talking about the US) is better (and I’m not referring to the concept of heaven or hell).
But for now let me address my fellow believers and state the first of my four reasons I mentioned in part 1.
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This is not a chronological account of my search for answers and meaning, which started when I was younger. Over the years, I spent a lot of time contemplating as various thoughts and questions came to my mind about God and the reason(s) for our existence.
For many balmy nights, while living in Manila, I would sit on the concrete steps in front of our apartment in Sta. Mesa. With my elbow on my knee and a hand cupping my chin, I would gaze at the moon and the twinkling stars above and wonder what is out there, is anyone out there, who are we, where did we come from?
While kids noisily and gleefully play in the streets, a common sight throughout the neighbourhoods during my childhood, I spent a lot of time wondering what life is all about.
As I learned about religions and their various denominations, the thought of what these all meant crossed my mind. I read a little bit about some of these religions, beliefs and other philosophies. My eventual response, after reading up, on and off, on this subject over a period of almost two decades, was to ‘disengage’.
One of my reasons is due to:
1. My conflict in reconciling where the Jews, other Christian denominations, the Moslems, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Sikhs, the Taoists, the Shintoists, the ‘Zoroastrians’, the various Indigenous religions, other non-mainstream religions, the agnostics—plus the atheistic materialists— fit into this.
According to Wikipedia, Christians now make up approximately 2 billion people. Out of these 2 billion, there are a staggering 38,000 different denominations or branches. More branches of Christianity will no doubt emerge as people, for whatever motivate them, form and lead their own group and interpret the bible in their own way.
At one time, I felt Catholicism was the best religion out of all them. That it’s the only correct path and I had a better chance in being allowed into heaven. Everyone else is wrong and ignorantly in the wrong path. However, as you know, each of the people who belong to other Christian denominations or other religions feel the same way, if not stronger, about their respective religion. People ‘peddling’ their own brand of religion, each one of the group believing theirs to be the real deal. Who’s right, who’s wrong?
But I also thought a lot about those people who have never heard of Jesus Christ or concepts like the Holy Trinity, and/or those people who worshipped a different God or Gods. Where will they go when they die? Would God forgive them? How can they redeem themselves?
What about those Christians who think everyone else will go to hell or purgatory unless you are ‘born again’, whatever that means?
How about the Moslems who seriously think that Allah is the one true God, the Qur’an the one true book, and the rest of us are infidels?
The Bahá’í’s who believe Abraham, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and most recently their own, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, are one and the same being and who appeared as these different messengers to establish a religion that was suited for the needs of their time?
The Hindus with their multiple Gods? Does believing in more than one God gets you quicker to reaching nirvana?
The Buddhists who believe that you will reincarnate over and over again until you learn your lessons and paid off all your karmas?
And the Jews who consider themselves God’s chosen people? I felt a tinge of jealousy I wasn’t born into the ‘chosen’ race.
Let’s not even mention the Scientologists who once annoyed me a bit for incessantly calling me to talk me into meeting with them, after I purchased one of their leader’s books.
In all these, I considered and attempted to turn into a vegetarian after reading about a female Vietnamese Buddhist master who teaches that eating meat contributes to global warming.
As I don’t consider myself materialistic, it was easy for me to imagine I was suited to becoming a monk—stripping myself bare of all material possessions—until I learned you have to abstain from the desires of the flesh, alcohol, gambling and other vices. 🙂
I once wanted to be like the Breatharians who claim to live without eating food or drinking water but by proper breathing alone. Imagine how many kilos I would have shed if I tried it? You must have read about a recent news of an Indian man who was reported not to have eaten for two weeks, while doctors in Australia probe him and what he was claiming.
I marveled at the mysterious world of the Shamans and their use of psychedelic plants to, purportedly, take them into different worlds and dimensions.
I read a few articles on secret societies like the Rosicrucians, which I considered joining, and the Freemasons which was for a long time exclusive for males only but have recently started accepting female members.
I’ve heard about the Gnostic Catharrs and the Essenes of the ancient times.
I was surprised to learn of the existence of the moderate Moslems like the Sufis or the Dancing Dervishes.
I read the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda hoping to get inspired but it somehow drew more questions from me.
So you see how serious I was in getting to know more about religion and other beliefs, and my desire to get some answers to some questions?
We do know religions have the same aim, even if there are myriad paths. If it continues to work for you, that’s admirable, but what gets my goat, so to speak, is the intolerance of others for people whose beliefs are different from their own, people who think they have sole access to the one correct key to open/enter, the pearly gates of St. Peter or the ‘paradise’.
But this is my story and my journey. You have your own story to tell.
To be continued…
As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.