DID I JUST GO THERE? YEAH, I DID

 

Last week Oprah released a 7 episode documentary called Belief. It is an exploration of the many religions around the globe with a glimpse into their rituals. It was particularly interesting to see the extent some people within each group will go to in order to have a closer connection to their version of God.

 

When my life turned upside down several years ago, I turned to my church to seek help. I needed support, a compassionate place to rest my worries, a voice of reason to get me through the difficulty. I didn’t find it there. It was that incident that turned me away from my religion and toward my spirituality.

 

What I found in this documentary is how many people are looking for that something to connect to, to find meaning in their own lives. It’s found in every country, every culture, includes rich, poor, white, black and everyone in between.

 

 

Many choose religion as a place of rest where you get to relax into being yourself for those brief moments. For many it’s a way of relinquishing responsibility for their life. For (way too) many, it’s a place where you concede to tolerate the life you’ve been given. The majority remain there because it’s what they grew up with and are either too lazy to explore the differences or are too afraid to rock the boat within their family. Still others treat it like a place to dump all the things you didn’t do right that week and ask to be forgiven for not being a better person. That’s how I felt being raised Catholic.

 

What I want to say about that is religion was created by humans with human thoughts and human limitations. These ideologies have the ability to keep you small with a limited vision for what life has to offer you. Religion is a human way of organizing communities to follow a belief system under a leadership that gets to control the rules, in effect control you.

 

I’m not saying religion is bad and spirituality is the way. I recognize that religion serves a purpose and provides that place of making the world for the individual life tolerable for many people. Religions provide wonderful teachings that if observed by it’s followers, would create a world much different than it is today.

Church (building-architecture-church-religion 2955x3892)

 

Spirituality is not that. No one religion can define all of humanity.

 

Religions divide. Spirituality has no borders or boundaries.

 

Religion has rituals and rules. You either comply with them or you don’t belong. Spirituality is found in universal languages like love, growth, music, health and in the air we all share and breathe.

 

Religions provide churches and mosques and synagogues for the exclusive use of their members. You can join, so long as you comply with the rules. There are no buildings for spirituality because it is the entire earth and universe. It’s found in your work, in your family, in your backyard or along the shores of your favorite beach.

 

Religion advocates good and bad. Spirituality encompasses all that is.

 

Religion teaches a way of life moving away from what you don’t want. Spirituality is a way of life that encompasses the whole of life experienced within and around you.

 

In all of man’s history, we still don’t have the definitive answers, but we can get to some understanding. In my experience, when you have that, you get access to a life of significance, are able to apply meaning to everything that you do and revel in the accomplishments this way of being provides for you.

 

 

I think the unfortunate part of spirituality or your awakening to have that understanding, is how much misery and pain is connected to it. For many, it’s the beginning or re-connection of your faith, an opening to your spirituality and a better understanding of your place in the world. It often begins with a difficulty in your life. That was the case for me.

Tree Base (nature-forest-moss-leaves 3000x2000)

What I love about religion is the richness of their rituals. These are ways that symbolize your desire to grow, to live a good life and to become your best. They offer an opportunity to consider and reflect on a standard of life you are committing to creating. They create a common understanding and support amongst its followers. They provide an opportunity for community amongst those who share in those values.

 

No matter whether you identify with being religious or spiritual, the tell is if at the end of the day you are growing, on purpose or at least moving toward it, happy, productive and contributing to make the world better. It could be as simple as providing love and creating safety as you tuck in your child at night or as big as sharing ideas with millions as Oprah did in this documentary. It all begins with you and how you see yourself.

 

 

Rituals are an important part of being human. They are also a significant aspect to being successful. Rituals are not just relegated to religion and spirituality. I’ll be speaking more about this in upcoming posts.

 

footprint

 

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