Organized Belief Systems Are Not as Bad as I Once Thought
If you know me, I have said many times that I do not believe in or resonate with organized religion. I personally, do, believe that everyone should have their own religions, so to speak, because everyone's life and path are different. Background story time. I come from a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian background. As I grew older, I had questions that no one seemed to want to answer so I sought out the answers for myself. What I came up with left me feeling betrayed and lied to my whole life. I was so confused excuse Christianity was the only thing I knew and I was lost in regards to what my belief foundation was. I left the church and went about my way. I strongly rejected anything that had to do with Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus himself. I felt that it was all fabricated and, quite honestly, a lot of negative things happened to me while I was in the church, actually attending church, and around people of the church. Christianity traumatized me.
Recently, I feel as though my mind has transcended to a higher level of consciousness. I would say this year, I possessed the ability to see things from both sides, or at least see the good in a thing or the origin of a thing. I stopped condemning others for opposing my personal views and beliefs. I started to understand why people thought and felt certain ways. I stopped trying to convince others that my beliefs and thoughts were right and theirs were wrong. I finally possessed the understanding to know that what someone believes is none of my business. All I am responsible for is my truth without holding judgement. I truly started to see the beauty in differences and the wonder that is learning from one another, even in a disagreement (this is where conversation comes in!).
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been listening to The Book Of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu on audiobook. When I tell you that book shifted me, it shifted me. These men held so much love, compassion, and JOY in their hearts that I was truly moved. I was extremely moved by what the Dalai Lama had to say most of the time. I noticed that the teachings of Buddhism (just mentioned in this book) started to really call out to me.
Now, I have always been interested in/resonated with Buddhism since I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. In my last life I was Indian (I did a recall with a shaman a few years ago, it was so cool). I remember even before I saw that movie or knew how Indians dressed, I would walk around my house in a sheet wrapped around me like a saree. When I saw that movie, I remember feeling so guilty for loving it because I was a Christian and I thought that Jesus would punish me for my thoughts.
Fast forward to 4.5 years ago. I began my yoga practice, which tremendously helped my life. Between Buddhism (philosophies and meditation) and Hinduism (or at least the calling upon gods in mantras & song) I was filled with happiness. It just felt right.
Now, this month, I have been aware of my attitude, demeanor, feelings, and thoughts as certain events arise and situations occur. I am aware of my mental status. After studying Ayurveda for six months, so many things started to make sense. I, as well as my teacher, made it a point that I needed more routine in my life.
This made me think back to times when I felt more in control mentally, times where I was not plagued with anxiety or depression spells as frequent. I noticed that these times were when I was going to church.
It made me realize that the structure of religion has much to do with a persons state, not just whomever they pray to. For me, religion also came with routine, a sense of community, a dedicated time of rest, and, to be honest, a reason to get dressed up and get out of the house. I knew that on Friday night, I was cleaning my house and preparing for the sabbath in order to be relaxing by sunset Friday night. Saturday morning, I was getting fresh to death and going to a service in which I knew the order of events. Sometimes I was expressing my creativity by singing on the praise team, other times I was traveling to other churches who had amazing bands and singers. I was singing and clapping and dancing (appropriately for church haha). I was eating potluck lunch with other like minded people. I knew that on sabbath, I didn't have to worry about work or anything. I got my dose of the holy spirit. I was literally feeling the music. I was conversing and spending time with people...basically every Saturday of the year.
As I am reading up on Buddhism, there are many teachings and principles that make up this belief system. There is no god that one prays to, but there are certain guidelines and techniques to practice to free ones self from suffering (and eventually reach enlightenment). These things create structure and I believe that every being needs structure. Structure is not to be confused with monotony or a dull life. One can have structure and still be colorful with the creativity and adventures of life.
I am realizing that religion is not all that bad (of course everyone has their bad apples and extremists). When one plugs into Source (or whatever name you want to call it), there is no need to convince others that your way is the right way (actually in Buddhism it is forbidden to try to convince someone of the Buddhist way, instead, one must share the knowledge and allow a person to decide if it is for them or not). I am realizing that on a basic level, religion allows for organization in ones life and a common thread to constantly pull on when life seems to be out of control or too chaotic. Religion is like that safety line.
Now I will not go on to say that one is better than the other, but I see it all. I see a purpose to organized beliefs. I understand.