Anytime I elaborate on the subject of “beliefs” I know that I run the risk of offending others, but I truly think we all need to better examine WHY we believe what we do at this point in our lives.
I myself was born and raised in the Heartland of America—Baptized Lutheran as a baby and I sporadically attended that same church in my youth, as well as a Baptist church that was closer to home.
I can’t begin to tell anyone who will listen how much I absolutely hated that forced church attendance of my childhood because those who I met in those two churches were some of the largest hypocrites that I’ve ever encountered in one location for the entire remainder of my life.
Even as a kid I could tell that these Sunday morning “lecturers” and children’s Sunday School teachers were not actually living the tenets of what they were preaching to me; to which I questioned my mother back then as to WHY I had to listen to them. Her answer was insufficient, but overall she felt that it was her motherly duty to instill some kind of belief system into me and the local churches offered a standard “acceptable version” of belief for our area, even if she had no desire to attend the services herself.
By my teens I had successfully argued on Sunday mornings that “If YOU aren’t going to church, then why should I?” And she caved to my resistance.
By college I was enthusiastically enrolling in a “Religions of the World” class because I felt there had to be SOME belief that I could get into, even if I hadn’t yet found one. The class was interesting and mind broadening; and I began to see that other paths existed for folks who couldn’t get into the standard local faiths. But still, …nothing that I read about in the class seemed right for me. So I just let the “need for belief” subject kind of fade away as I entered my young adulthood, marriage, and the general trials and tribulations of LIFE itself, including facing the eventual mortality of my parents.
When my husband and I moved to Southwest Missouri to a ranch/farm where I spent a lot of time isolated from everyone but nature and the animals that we raised, I began to frequent the local library where I pretty much devoured anything of interest in a short time and began requesting book loans from the larger town in our area. Our librarian was patient and actually eager to help a local rural resident explore all that she had available on any requested subject.
One day while browsing the local library, Adam Smith’s book Powers of Mind literally fell off the shelf in front of me, and jump-started my interest in ‘all things mind-expanding.’ He offered a reading list of subject matter on consciousness and current trends, and one book led to another until the local librarian was quite sick of seeing me because everything that I wanted was somewhere else in the state library system and she was forced to put in ‘special requests’ for all of them.
By then I was hooked on exploring and better understanding WHY are we here? What is our purpose for existing? Who am I? Etc., etc. So for the next few decades no matter where I lived, I read just about everything I could wade through on beliefs and expanded mental abilities, and about what LIFE was really about to those who ventured beyond the standard belief systems.
I read about various forms of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism; read about meditation and how best to do it; read about energy healing and psychic abilities; read about shamanism and paganism; and read about how the earliest forms of Christianity branched into different directions with various interpretations of the Bible and even different versions of the Bible.
That Christian path divergence puzzled me, so I eventually read the entire Bible cover to cover, just to see for myself how I interpreted it. I found the book to be somewhat interesting and confusing, all in one; and I immediately questioned the historical accuracy of the claims made within it. I mean supposedly it is the “Word of God,” but it appeared to me to be more like a collection of conflicting stories told by many different folks who claimed to speak for God; and who I doubted even more than I had as a child, actually did.
Even the Bible’s God of the Old Testament was not the same as the God of the New Testament, unless HE had a personality transplant. The Old Testament’s God of vengeance and violence was not the God of Love that Jesus described, so why was that? Which version of God was the correct one? Maybe it depended on which church you attended.
What I eventually noticed in all my religious/spiritual explorations was that ‘BELIEF’ itself depended on how willing we were to accept the opinions of others. And for someone as independent and contrary as I naturally am, placing my faith in someone else’s interpretation of LIFE and the importance of how we interact with it, was not within my capacity.
So I chose my own path and eventually found my own TRUTH, at least as I currently know it.
That is why I strongly encourage others to do the same—find your own version of faith and belief—find your own personal TRUTH that makes the most sense to you.
For me I’ve always found my TRUTH in silence and nature, and even more so by ‘being silent in nature’ and allowing the surrounding world to ‘speak to me’ however it wished to do.
All that was required of me was to listen to it.