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Deeper Perception Made Practical

Does your relationship to God depend on social belonging? A Guest Post by Amy.

 

God can matter. Truth can matter. Religion can be glorious.

  • But atheism can also be a powerful path of spiritual evolution.
  • While being an agnostic is also powerful.
  • Being spiritually Enlightened takes the semantics out of the conversation in a rather hilarious way.

These just are some of the varied points of view that can become part of our ongoing thread If you don’t believe in God, how can Energy Spirituality help you?, Part 1.

Personally, I think that post and the comments that follow are well worth reading. Don’t miss the the marvellous Zen adage about seeking God, a mind-opening image that I never had encountered before, “Like riding a donkey in search of a donkey.”

Lurkers and long-time Blog-Buddies, alike, do add your comments, both there and here.

Today’s Guest Post by AMY rose out of the comments sequence over at Part 1. Elevating this to a Guest Post, logically, it could be called “If you don’t believe in God, how can Energy Spirituality help you?, Part 2.”

Headings and minor copy edits are mine. The voice below is all AMY’s.

Maybe you’re wondering. Why make this slice-of-life into a Guest Post? Blog-Buddies, your comments on these themes about atheism, agnosticsm, religion, and spirituality have been so fascinating. And honest. (As usual.) As moderator here, I wanted to flag the important theme in this discussion about the importance of…

Social pressure, religion, and the promise of community

I was born in a Catholic country and baptised, First Holy Communioned, and confirmed.

Why? ‘Cos that what you do, as a social ritual. Not that my parents believed in any God or the Church.

I had my First Holy Communion because that’s what you do, the whole class has to do it at the same time and, again, it’s a social ritual. Afterwards, we went for a nice meal.

I was confirmed in The Catholic Church at 12. (What 12-year-old doesn’t know that she is ready for becoming a full member of the church, with all the adult understanding that entails? 😉 ).

Again I had to do it, whole class did it, went for a nice meal. And I got to choose my own outfit (first high heels).

Bonus: I got a lot of money from my relatives. For not doing very much at all.

The sacred opportunity to choose a name that thrills your soul

Chose my confirmation name. (Didn’t mean anything to me.)

Chose “Helen”, the name of my aunt.

My other aunt went ballistic at me and said she was very upset that I picked the other aunt’s name.

How very Christian of her!

Religion as a family value, especially among my aunts

Both aunts have had all of their kids do the same.

Neither they nor their husbands nor their children go to Church. Okay, maybe once a year for weddings and funerals.

My point is, that all these people take part in the obvious aspects of “religion” but none of them believes it. None has any interest in confessing a belief in God.

Yet, if my immediate family hadn’t taken part in these social rituals, we would have been ostracized (my extended family), pitied (Aunt 1) or thought of as weird (Aunt 2).

These particular adjectives emphasise how people in my family tend to judge each other, anyway.

Irrelevance of organized religion on my spiritual path to Enlightenment

Being part of a religion, doing all the rituals, and being able to say “I am a Catholic,” says nothing about being connected to the Divine.

I am not a Catholic. (Although the Catholic Church makes it hard to get your name removed from the official roster.)

As for some of my relatives who do go to church every day? This is a word-for-word quote:

 “Amy, I’m getting old now and close to dying, so you have to think about these things and try to get a place in heaven.”

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  1. 1
    AJ says:

    Thank you for sharing Amy. That was a very powerful story. The social aspect of religion drives me crazy—especially because I come from a family who practiced evangelical Christianity. There is so much illusion out there and a lot of people believe whatever they’re told. I really try not to pay any attention to it.

  2. 2
    Sophia says:

    In short, to me, praying to God, Jesus, Krishna, Archangel Michael etc. is no different than praying to Mary Poppins, the Great White Wizard or Mickey Mouse.
    To me, they all seem fictitious, and it seems ridiculous to turn to them for help.

    By this I do not mean that they are fictitious to everyone.

    I think that people who grew up in a religious community as accepted members of it, per default have the experience or insight of the realness, veracity, relevance of God, Jesus, Krishna etc.

    While those who were born and raised categorically excluded from the religious community don’t have that experience or insight.

    This is why membership in a religious community is so important.

    It seems to give the person an inherent trust in the divine, and in themselves.

    Those who were born and raised categorically excluded from the religious community, lack that trust in the divine and in themselves, and it seems that they are never able to catch up.

  3. 3
    Angie says:

    How this sounds very familiar… it is even worse when your family’s belief of God is fear-oriented…

    I was also brought up as a roman catholic in a family that tried to be more catholic than the pope.

    All I can say from this religious upbringing is that this fear-based faith is the worse you can bring upon children, and clearly, this kind of vision does turn people away from God.

    I simply refused to keep such a dark vision of my Creator and looked for other means of finding God. Now that I have turned to “my own version of faith”, it feels even scarier to some people of my family, because I might “go to hell”… for having turned away from their one true faith.

  4. 4
    Primmie says:

    Recently something very lovely has happened in my family. My mother who combines Catholicism with New Age beliefs is now able to talk quite happily to my father about her spiritual path. He, a confirmed atheist, is comfortable listening to her.

    When they go on holiday together they go to mass. My mother because she is devout, my father because he loves the mass even though he has no faith.

    I love that after many years of conflict about religion, that’s all passed away in my family now. I find my parents new ease with each others’ beliefs very inspiring.

  5. 5
    Amy says:

    Angie, I totally agree that with fear-based religion, a lot of people are turned off from just the thought of God or religious matters.

    I also find that many my age in England, are so turned off that they go to the other extreme and are incredibly intolerant of people who do believe in God/religion/spirituality.

    I have been very careful not to mention religion/spirituality/belief with my new co-workers just due to the demographic they are. One, just last week, referred to a time when he deeply believed in God, as when he was a “Christ-fag”. Homophobia and intolerance in one!

    I personally believe in re-incarnation and Jesus, and the whole she-bang. The word God, however is quite irrelevant to me. It’s hard to relate to after all those years of Catholic school!

  6. 6
    Amy says:

    AJ, I’ve mostly escaped the social aspect. England is a much more secular country than Ireland is!

  7. 7
    Thomas says:

    I am grateful for the catholic religious experience for it provided contrast – how can we appreciate the light if we didn’t experience the dark? I was fortunate in the whole experience to be blessed with a “Father” (of the Patriarchy), teacher, who opened my world to the concept of the divine existence with a simple challenge to me: “you young lad PROOVE TO ME THAT GOD doesn’t exist” wellllll I said -everything was created from particles, “Ha, what created those particles, boy?” wellllll I said – atoms, protons and neutrons, “Ha, what created those atoms,boy?” welllll, you get the point I reached a point where I couldn’t go any further and the father says, “Ha so you see there must be a beginning, a source, a creator, that is God, all knowing, omnicient, omni present. Well that experience led me on a journey to discover THAT – so we are HERE, all of us learning more about where we come from, where we are going, which is nowhere but HERE NOW Having a Human experience at the most exciting time on planet earth!.

  8. 8
    Jill Erin says:

    Thomas,

    Your story of your fathers challenge reminds me of a famous story of David Hume:

    David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (published in 1779):
    How can we satisfy ourselves without going on in infinitum? And, after all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression? Let us remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant. It was never more applicable than to the present subject. If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other; and so on, without end. It were better, therefore, never to look beyond the present material world.
    —Hume, 1779[2

  9. 9
    Jill Erin says:

    The David Hume story is from Wikipedia.

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