Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thoughts on Faith, Spirituality, and Religion

Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi

Those of you who think you have found the one and only path to God, please STOP reading now.  I don't want to offend anyone but there are many divides I think we can unite if we think about faith, spirituality, and religion in a different way.

There are so many religions that have the same underlying principles.  Be kind, do your best, and work hard.  Treat others with respect, especially your elders. Appreciate silence whether it is through meditation, prayer, or introspection. Contribute positively to your community.  Encourage children to become balanced adults.

I see faith as believing these things are right and should be how to conduct a positive life.  Spirituality is acknowledging that there is a higher power, whether it is God, the universe, nature, or your soul.  Religion is a set of man-made rules that have divided us into the "right" group and the "wrong" group.

I have to go with John Lennon in this case.  Countries are divided by imaginary lines called borders.  Religion divides us with imaginary lines called hatred, bigotry, racism, and other uncomfortable words.  I see from the news on TV and in the newspaper how religions are preaching competition on the path to God.  You are going to hell if you are gay.  You are going to hell if you get an abortion. You are going to hell if you eat meat on Fridays, if you use birth control, if you don't support the church.

These divisions don't make us better people.  They don't promote problem solving and conflict resolution.  They force us into feeling superior to others and to engage in conflicts, even though they all preach the same things.

So what if we got rid of the man-made rules?  What if we all lived are lives being the best, most helpful, and courageous people we can be.  Allow people to celebrate and worship God, the universe, the soul, nature in any way they choose,  We should be able to tolerate diversity.  Actually we should celebrate it.  Learning from differences rather than condemning them.

I have faith in others, even when they disappoint themselves.  There is always another chance.  I believe in spirituality, the higher self, the universal idea that we are all united and here on earth to make a positive difference.  I have to say that I don't believe in religion and the rules you must follow to be a "good" parishioner. Look at the animal kingdom.  They do not attend church,  They protect their children, they help the herd, they kill only for food.  We have no reason to kill for food, so what are we killing for?

I apologize to those who may be offended by this, I don't discount history or Bible stories.  Buddha, Mohammed, and Jesus were teachers.  What if we all taught love instead of "My religion is better than your?"

I can only think it would be a better world.

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