Thursday, December 9, 2010
Oh, Ye of Little Faith
I was walking through the UCLA campus late this afternoon, taking the path up Bruin Way. One of the many tables lining the pathway caught my eye. The sign said: "Religion is for the Weak."
I was surprised by the sign. Now, I 'm not a religious person anymore. I left the auspices of organized religion many years ago. At one time, I was very religious and attended daily Mass and received Holy Communion frequently. But the years of following man-made doctrine blindly lost its appeal the older I got because the more I discovered the divineness within myself (namaste), the idea of organized religion became less appealing. Going to Mass was habit and rote behavior. When I learned to meditate, I was a journey of mind and spirit connection that became a stronger force in my life.
But that doesn't mean to say that codes of ethics and behaviors in organized religion aren't important. I believe they add direction in life if they are based on a generosity of spirit and forgiveness. Most religions portend to extrapolate on those themes. But the idea that I should go to church for an hour every Sunday and listen to a preacher tell me how to live a peaceful and joyful life doesn't sit well with me because I can leave Church and steal a lipstick from CVS while I buy Kleenex at the check out counter.
Does religion truly make us weak? I find that to be a pretty radical concept. Perhaps it doesn't truly make a person weak, but religion can alter the perspective of the individual and urge him or her to accept only what the institution has to say. What then happens to personal responsibility? Who is creating one's spiritual journey? The institution or the self? It's easier to let the priest tell me what I should think or how I should act. Hence, our divineness doesn't emanate from within our own soul to act with charity and responsibility to each other or to nurture our individual spirit. It comes from someone telling us to act in a specific way.
As I walked away from the table on Bruin Way, I felt a sense of relief that in the positive energy that I generated within myself, I had the ability to give back love and respect to those I care about, my family and dear friends. I truly believed that a life of fulfillment and peace begins by taking steps to find the divine within ourselves.
I remember wanting to go to church at one point in my life because I wanted to be with like people, people who believe with faith and love that the church we were attending was the institution that helped us live a better life. That's not a weakness to believe this; it is an idea based on faith. And faith does not make us weak. But there is more to faith than believing that the institution representing a divine being is always on the right path. The right path is a path of our own choosing attained through mindfulness and staying conscious and present in life. Through the study of yoga and by practicing meditation, I discovered that it would be through my efforts at self-discovery and growth that I would achieve some kind of transformation and finally acceptance of my Tao, my life's journey.
So namaste, boomers. The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.