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- Exploring Religious Options
Finding a Spiritual Path
When we come into the world we are left to the decision making lifestyles our parents embody. We learn their belief systems, their habits and their tainted views. As children, we do not have the ability to reject the philosophies our parents teach us because we love them and wish to please them. We also have no understanding that we are limited in our learning due to our place in the world and how and what we are taught.
One does not tell their parents at three years old that they do not wish to become Catholic, for instance, and that they would rather visit a mosque. Children are mere pawns in the hands of their upbringing and the views they learn about life. To understand and to think about thinking, and what they "feel" about something is an unknown dimension to their world. Later, when these same souls enter school, they are taught they must follow the rules and regulations of their teachers, and they must learn to "fit in" and behave themselves in their classrooms.
As these children grow ( and I am speaking of YOU) there is a sense the teacher and the parent are a sort of demigod. What the child learns is that they know everything and to question those authorities is anathema. It is not until the child reaches college age, (or 18) that they are allowed the opportunity to "think for themselves" and by then there has been such a deeply ingrained sense they do not know anything, that when asked "what do you really think" about something, they honestly have no clue what they think.
If we remain of the same opinion of our parents or some teaching authority throughout our lives, we will never question the idea that there may be other opinions viable, or other paths available for us to consider. In fact, if we do not engage ourselves in inquiry, we remain stuck in limited thinking, and are often closed minded and fearful about new ideas we may have integrated into our lives that serve its primary purpose.
Spirituality is something many people will embrace after many years of religious fervor that does not resonate with an individuals soul path. Growing up as a non-fundamental Christian was something I am happy to report did not make me jaded. What made me jaded was living in the southern part of the United States afterwards and finding that the FEAR of God was something espoused in almost every church I entered. I learned God was a loving and forgiving entity and one who understood human frailties. This God was not judgmental, and not one who loved any religion over another.
It was with this experience I searched and found spiritual groups who taught me that all philosophies are essentially the same, compassion and kindness were found in all of these teachings, and Mother Earth was something to be revered. My spirituality encompasses the teachings of the Native American Indian, the Tibetan Buddhist, the Hindu and Jain, and the mystics of Sufism, and Catholicism. Each of the links brought me further along to what I remain today: a spiritual mutt. I am one who embodies a bit of this, and a touch of that in my core beliefs. I view the Great Teachers as one fantastic professorship: Jesus, Mohammed, John the Baptist, Abraham, the Buddha, Kuan Yin, Gandi, Osho and others have all taught me the meaning of spirituality.
There is so much division in the world and it is incumbent upon us all to focus on the similarities instead of the differences in the path to at-one-ment (atonement). Before enlightenment we "chop wood and carry water" and after enlightenment we do the same. No one gets out of life alive, many of us cleave to the same hope that we will be the best we can possibly be, do that which we can do for ourselves and others, and leave the world a better place for having been in it.
Finding a Spiritual Path is less about finding, and more about allowing. In order for us to know that which we believe is right for us, we must be open and receptive to knowing more about ourselves and how we came to the beliefs we have. Did we merely accept that whatever our parents said was the law, without being open to knowing more about what we-ourselves really think about things? Are we open to new experiences, new people, new ideas and new growth experiences? Do we allow ourselves to reflect and critically think about that which we say and do in the world, or are we sheep-le who follow others, never wanting to make our own minds up about things?
A Spiritual Path, although an individual process, brings us to a place and space of self-knowing. Instead of accepting that which we are as truth, we might try in-sight. We may find our path is fine the way it is, but in assessing that which we are, we still make the journey on the path to higher truth, and in honest reflection, we come to know more about ourselves and our world by being open and receptive to seeking without fear.