I can’t really say that I’ve lost my religion since I’m not so sure I ever had one. For decades I assumed I had one by default but it turns out I didn’t. I feel so much lighter without the religion, the doubts and the assumption.
The other day, I found a flyer on my front door that asked in big, bold letters, “Would you like to wake up every morning with happy, positive thoughts?” Then I read further and learned that the flyer had been left by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to entice me to attend their convention.
Upon reading this my initial thought was “I wake up every morning with happy, positive thoughts.” And I do this without a religion. I find that without a religion, I’m much happier, more optimistic, and more at peace than when I assumed I was a Christian. I’ve found that I’m not and it’s quite likely I never really was. I probably made the assumption because Christianity in some form was the prevalent religious influence in my life.
I haven’t lost my faith; it’s doubtful I ever had it. I’ve only lost the assumption of faith. Nor am I a lost soul. I have some very definite ideas on the nature of the soul and mine is just fine, thank you.
I’ve always had ideas about divinity and spirituality that ran contrary to religious doctrines and I saw many inconsistencies in the practice of religion that I haven’t been able to reconcile, find comfort in, or seemed contrary to my core values and beliefs. Since abandoning the assumption and investigating other, particularly Eastern, spiritual ideas, I no longer have a need to try to reconcile those contradictions and inconsistencies. Ideas in Buddhism, Vedic texts, yoga philosophy, and the lectures of the late Joseph Campbell have confirmed and solidified many of the spiritual concepts I’ve held since my teen years and helped me to better understand them and to let them further evolve.
I may not have a religion but I am not an atheist. I have concepts of God, the Divine, Brahman or whatever term fits. I’ve drawn these ideas from various teachings such as Jesus, Buddha, Vedic texts, the Bible, and maybe even a smattering revealed knowledge and gut instinct. One could say that I’m agnostic and at times I’ve identified with that label. If I am agnostic it is in the sense that the full nature of Divinity is too vast to comprehend.
I don’t seek salvation. From what do I need to be saved? Christianity asserts that Jesus died for my sins. That may be so but it still doesn’t negate cause and effect (karma) nor does it relieve me from taking responsibility for my own actions. I don’t buy into the Judeo-Christian concept of Original Sin nor do I accept the ideas of an eternal Heaven and Hell. If I entered the world with anything but a clean slate then it had to be an effect caused by something I’d done before this birth. I’ve never believed that we only have one lifetime in which to get it right. I’ve always considered the ideas of reincarnation or rebirth to be possibilities.
I’m more interested in moksha or liberation. The possibility of being free from fear and suffering in this lifetime is more appealing than being sustained by the promise of salvation and eternal bliss in the afterlife as a reward for enduring a lifetime of suffering, guilt and shame.
There are many spiritual paths and I suspect they all ultimately lead to the same destination. If we are on different paths it does not necessarily follow that one of us is lost. You follow your path and I follow mine. Perhaps our paths will cross, perhaps not. Regardless of the path we walk we are not adversaries. We are all in this together.
It’s great to know that I can be religious without the need for a religion.