I’ll try not to offend anyone with this post. If it’s not your cuppa then feel free to pass on by. And I’m leading with this because of a recent encounter with two beloved family members. So please, if you’re the type that gets easily offended by this type of talk, feel free to pass on. It’s okay. I’ll still be here and I won’t be offended by it.
So the story. I’m at my grandparents with dad and things are going smooth. I have two of the best grandparents in the world (aren’t they all the best though? Most of the time, yes.) and we are discussing whatever comes to mind. That’s normal. That’s how my family does things. We follow a topic and when someone takes us off of that topic we all jump on that train and follow that topic until it’s a pattern and we are three hours down the hole and on a topic so different from the original topic that we’ve lost ourselves. I enjoy this type of talk.
I knew that this was going to come up. I had braced myself and told myself that it would only be a small hump. Just a small teeny tiny hump, and I knew it would happen because my last birthday card from the grandparents was loaded with God talk. My entire family knows I’ve never believed. I just never found truth in what the Sunday school teachers told me. I found some of the stories empowering, but it wasn’t because of God. For instance, there was a story of an old man (or was it a child?) who needed to cross a river but it was storming and the river was flooded. The guard (or saint? I was like 5 [6 or 7?], so details are a bit hazy) picked the old man (or child) up and carried him across the river. The idea being that God had protected this guard (or saint) from drowning as he carried the old man (or child) across the river. Most people would look at this and see that God was the hero here. I, however, did not. I saw that this guard (or saint) found the strength to carry this person through a deadly storm so that he could get to wherever he was going and that this old man (or saint) was the hero. When I was that little, I do remember not knowing exactly what God was supposed to be. He could have been the President of the United States and I wouldn’t have known the difference. I only learned of these things in Sunday school, which I quickly grew to hate. I would sneak off and cause mayhem, usually finding the oyster crackers and grape juice and pigging out. My point here is that it’s never been about God to me, it’s been about the human spirit.
So today, at the age of 24, I’m finally no longer battling my own belief system inside of my own head. I’ve grown up hearing that the Bible is the correct word of God and yet I have questioned that my entire life. Something just never added up to me, and besides that, the other belief systems were far more interesting. So I began reading. To this day I still read books about other religions and spiritual paths. It is a topic that fascinates me, but it’s not because I’m searching for what I believe. I already know what I believe, but it’s not a religion, at least not that I can say. Lets see. The definition of religion is as such:
Simple Definition of religion : the belief in a god or in a group of gods : an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods : an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
And the definition of spirituality is as such:
Simple Definition of spirituality : the quality or state of being concerned with religion or religious matters : the quality or state of being spiritual
The main difference here is that religion is an organised system, where spirituality is being in a state of being spiritual. This can mean that you are spiritual regarding a specific religion, but it also means that you are not tied to one specific religion.
So I define myself as spiritual. The main reason for this is that I cannot pick any one religion that suits me. To add to this, I also find too many things in each religion that I can agree with. This means that Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Paganism, Pantheism, Taoism, Shintoism and so on so forth all offer me truth. None of these offer me complete truth however, and so I am spiritual. I feel the spirit within myself and I cater to what feels right. Containing this to one religion does not feel right to me.
So when I am asked what I believe in, and I am being asked by my beloved grandparents, what am I to say that will not upset them, but also will not go against what I feel is right by my belief system? I can’t just say that I am pagan (this is the closest word I have found to define what it is that I am) because to most Christians pagan means I walk through the woods naked worshiping demons and trees. (Each Christians viewpoint will be different, I admit this. To a majority however, pagan=witch) Do I want to scar them? Do I even want to enter the debate in the first place? And I surely can’t say I believe in their God, because I don’t and my moral self cannot lie just to make someone else happy with me.
Well, I was blindsided. I knew this day would come but I hadn’t prepared for it, though I thought I was ready. See, the problem is, I’ve never questioned myself as to why I don’t believe in their God. The truth is, I don’t feel that God. To me, that God is non-existent and that has never been a question in my mind, just like Thor (don’t be mad at me all of you Norse-pagans. Take me with a grain of salt if you must) and Zeus never did. And Thoth (though my tarot deck is called the Thoth deck) and Ganesha did not exist. He falls into the category of deities that were invented by the human mind to explain that which they could not explain. And when you take away these deities, the basic foundation of each religion seems to be quite similar. Do good by each other, don’t rape and steal yada yada yada. So in my mind, each religion is the same, they are one. What has happened here is that us lovely humans needed something to explain what was happening to us and we found that fables were the best way to carry these ideas at the time. We could easily capture our children’s attention with them and thus carry the beliefs down generation to generation. And there is not a thing wrong with this.
But how do you tell a devout Christian that you basically think their God is a myth? While you’re sitting in their living room having just eaten the food the kindly offered to you? Especially if you weren’t actually prepared…
Things got heated, my dad got nervous before I even began talking and while I thought at the time that things would be fine, he knows me better than I know myself sometimes. I was heated, but these were my grandparents and I knew I wouldn’t try to hurt their feelings. In fact, that’s what got me so heated. I was trying so hard to figure a way to tell them what I believe in without trampling all over their belief system, and without making a fool of myself and I got frustrated. Especially when everything I said just seemed so wrong to them. That is my one major issue with religion. It closes the mind. You have your set of rules and a lot of people find it hard to get past those rules and keep an open mind to expand their own belief system. Once they are in, they might never question that system. You can’t grow if you can’t question yourself and what you believe.
So what is it that I believe? Well, I’ll tell you, the first thing is that I don’t believe God made the Universe. Scientifically, we have no proof of him having done so. And yes I realize people will ask “Well who created the big bang? It just came from nothing?” Fair point. But the theory that makes the most sense to me is that the big bang exploded, creating all of the matter and energy we have today, and it is expanding as we speak. It will continue to expand but as things start to collide and orbit each other and create a lower center of gravity, things will start to be pulled back to a singular point until the event happens again. Now, let me tell you that I’m not a scientist, but of all of the theories I’ve heard, this one makes most sense to me. I want that to be known. I do not claim to be the one who knows for sure but that’s also the point that I am trying to make here. I believe that the Universe happens again and again while others believe God himself made it and still others believe the sky and the Earth mated and we were created (Ancient Egypt, and others). Us silly humans have the amazing ability to formulate ideas all on our own, and since we all see the Universe in different ways, we all chose different paths. How can any one of them be wrong or right?
Secondly, what happens when we die? This is where the hippie in me is about to come out. Buddhists (and others) believe that we are reincarnated and we experience life in different ways. Others believe that we are actually the Universe experiencing its self in different ways (all at once) while others believe we go to Heaven or Hell, and even more beliefs crop up about how we don’t do anything at all, just die. My personal belief is that whatever our spirit is (in my case I believe it to be energy its-self) is released. My life force is what some might call it. My vibes others would call it. This is passed on to fuel a new life weather it’s another human or a plant, and my body becomes food and fuel for already existing life forms like fungus, bugs and scavengers. I do not believe my consciousness goes with it. Once this beautiful life is over, it’s over, and it goes on to become a new life completely separate from this one.
Of all things, that is the one belief that I feel strongest of all; that we are all connected. Not just humans either, I mean every life on this planet is connected (not quite Avatar style though) and since energy cannot be created or destroyed, it transitions between these life forms.
The question that got me the most though was this: “So you believe that you are on this Earth for what reason then?” This is what stung the most. My very own grandparents believe that without God, I have no purpose on this Earth. They can’t seem to see that without God, someone might find their own purpose on their own. I’ll admit this, I have read up on LeVeyan Satanism. What intrigued me was the fact that they believe that they themselves mold their own destiny. That they are their own Gods. I’m not Satanist, and I also don’t claim to know everything about that specific religion, but what I do know is that they were playing on what I already knew about myself. I am a God. And since the word god has a few definitions, that’s not untrue. I am greatly loved and admired by myself. But Satanism is not for me, I don’t agree with the eye for an eye justice system. (Although, if you punch me, I will punch you. That’s fair, but I won’t take your eye if you take mine. I’ll still punch you though.) Since I view myself as a god though, that means that each human is a god. Each spirit is a god. (The shinto belief system actually should be mentioned here. Many many gods and spirits in that one.) But if I am the Universe experiencing its-self, and if the Universe is everything, then maybe the Universe is God? (Pantheism).
This is why I follow no religion. I just can’t, I’m not a part of that world where I need to be defined by something. My purpose on this Earth has been found already, and weather or not it was God’s work, it has happened. I know that I am here to help, to make a change, to cause waves. I am here to be a part of the new world and that is why no religion works for me. That is why when I am told that someday I will find God I laugh. I have found God. I am God. That tree is God. You are God!
Peace is my religion. Education is my religion. Love is my religion. Is that what I should say from now on?
I could go on and on but the word count at the bottom right just keeps climbing and before I know it I will have a novel and you might have fallen asleep. I had to get this out there though because even though I told my dad that I was fine, I wasn’t. (I didn’t know that at the time, that’s the bull in me bottling it all up). I was hurt and I was made to feel as if I didn’t know myself anymore. I do, though. The issue that came up was that I knew myself but for the first time in my life I didn’t want to lay it out in a way that might hurt the person in front of me. I love my grandparents and I respect their beliefs and I know that if I were to lay this out to them, even if it’s the smallest part of them, a part of them will feel sorrow because my soul is not saved. I will not be going to heaven in their eyes. And I can’t say for sure, but they might also feel like Satan has grasped my soul because I don’t identify with a religion, and yet I identify as all religions (Yes, even LaVeyan Satanism). That might break their hearts, and it would for sure create more resistance with them. They would try harder to push me into their God’s arms, but that is not where I belong.