Religion is an acrimonious subject. I’m reticent to ever discuss it as it extracts, at times, the worst in people. I find the very reaction, the defensiveness, the collective egos, the criticism, to be the literal antithesis to that belief system’s intention. What began as a collective measure, quickly turned into a manipulative practice in the control of mass quantities of people. Like puppets, hoards of us think, speak and move, according to what others say. What is the difference between an omnipotent being passing down life lessons and your parents doing the same? Your parents are real. As a woman, in 2011, I’d be better off living under a burka in Afghanistan, than adhering to the bible literally. The ways both testaments seek to subvert women is both creative and disturbing. Believing in an all-knowing, supposedly all-loving being and living within their guidelines, whether it be the Bible, Torah, Koran or other document over 800 times as old as I am, is a tough pill to swallow. So I elect to take no pill. Instead, I choose to ask questions and be open to many possible answers, or no answer at all. Hopefully, knowledge is more contagious than fear. That is still a question that remains unanswered, but again, I’m optimistic. I’m not afraid of other religions or religious people. All I ask is they’re open to me, an atheist with a heart, a Yogi with an elemental soul, evolution animating the dreamer.
I find the literal interpretation of any ancient document to be futile. It can only lead to hypocrisy; in you and in others. The number of times these “good books” have been translated from dead languages into ever-evolving live ones provides an inkling to the problem right there. Like a game of telephone, what comes out at the end scarcely resembles the initial thought. So who knows what the actual, truthful first words were and exactly what they were intended to mean. No one. Not your priest, not your rabbi, not even the Dalai Lama. Some have an in-depth study in their theology, in literary interpretation, and are adept at philosophical debate; yet, not one single human being alive today knows anything for sure. That very fact alone, the not knowing, is precisely what leads to devout faith and unapologetic, even forceful, belief. I’m more inspired and encouraged by what I don’t know than what I do. Inquisitive minds never say never and never say always. They’re accustomed to gray areas and swim in the unknown, without a life-vest. This is where I choose to reside, in the murky, mysterious deep, answers progressively unfolding, evolving as I do.
As a recovering pragmatic forward-thinker, I can understand and even appreciate why faith is important, the good it can do, and the focus it can inspire. I simply offer alternatives to the antiquated, unforgiving, rigid structure that organized religion provides. We need to allow ourselves to be wowed by seeking out our own information, instead of mindlessly absorbing what is thrust at us. Sure, there is free will involved in waking up, going to your religious headquarters and reading your form of scripture; however, how many times do we ask, “why am I here? how did I get here? do I still want or need to be here, really? Does this material truly sit well with my soul, sink into my bones and operate smoothly via my mind and body or am I simply conditioned? Am I living within the parameters that have been set happily, without judgement of others, without a need to be better than another, more righteous than another, more welcomed into “heaven” than another?”
The closest concept to a religion that I practice is Yoga. In the west it’s regarded as a method of increasing flexibility, but mostly, yoga carries a heavy stereotype that cripples its potential growth. I’m a teacher from my own, unique perspective, allowing a practice much older than most world religions to provide answers in surprising ways. I still eat meat, compete, curse, and god forbid, make mistakes, because I am a human being, and that is all Yoga has ever asked me to be. The stillness and calm taking residence permanently deep within makes many more appearances in my daily life because of yoga. It has brought love and connections to me and is the most inclusive way of life I’ve come across. I’ve met men and women of all ages, nationalities, sexual orientations and religions and through those differences, we found our common ground, and it happened to be yoga. I’m not saying it has to be Yoga, but it has to be something.
The issue I take with the state of our world is the sheer repellant we apply to people we deem different, often stemming from ignorance and skewed ideology. I’m striving to not make decisions based on my habituated way of thinking but perhaps via a conduit I’ve yet to explore, potentially the very answer lies within the source of the question itself. This goes for small arguments, day to day decisions, career moves, political alliances and all occasions surrounding catharsis. My quarter century on this planet and exposure I’ve been fortunate enough to experience has only given credence to this. Different is good. Weird is awesome. Life is unpredictable. Allow yourself to be awestruck and changed by someone or something else.
Ideology continues to morph and change as people do, but there is one constant. LOVE. If you find that the intention behind whichever your chosen belief system is to infuse, imbue and instill Love, then carry on my friend. Keep yourself honest, continue the quest, allow yourself to doubt. And while bathing in the deep, enigmatic waters, drowning in doubt, think, feel, exude LOVE.
This passage was created and published with Love, please only take it as such.