In the modern world I tend to see religion as a means of control for people. It is a lot more than that, it is a way people come together, creates common beliefs between people but I differentiate individual belief and faith from organized religion of any kind.
I can’t say I’ve ever been religious, it holds very little relevance to me even if I was born and raised Catholic. In conversation I usually say I’m religiously agnostic, I understand how important it is but also how much damage it has done. That even if you believe in whatever faith that organized religion in the hands of human beings is often used for our own selfish ends.
In the world we live in today faith is powerful, prayer reminds of meditation in a way, a way to focus your thought on your belief and that belief alone and the power in that act is something that you can see makes a lot of difference to people.
I am not against faith but I am not for the institutions created for it in organized religion of any kind. It doesn’t matter to me because if you believe in a God, that relationship is between you and him alone. The community around religion, that shared moral foundation is important but so is the person being able to question and challenge those moral constructs for themselves instead of taking what is told to them as the way.
When you are tethered from the normal every day and go out and explore the world you see that although we are so different what we seek isn’t. People are for the most part after the same things, happiness, their purpose, providing for their family and loved ones. I really appreciate Buddhism for the inward reflection, without necessitating a need for an external force like a God.
It isn’t that I am against a higher power but I just don’t seek to define whatever that could be in human terms because that just seems so wrong, arrogant that we could attempt to understand or put into human terms what that being if it does exist could be. Anything we could conceive of would just be warped by our limited field of view.
I tend to see most of the roads of faith are going to the same destination, that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you actually believe it. Faith was vital even more so prior to the modern age, where it allows societies to focus on something, anything rather than the brutal nature of life.
It could act as a way to make up for your sins, make you belief that you will see your loved ones again or could act as a pillar against the pain and struggle we all face. Religion is dogma, a means of power and influence of those in control of the pulpit, a way for them at humanity’s worst to get off on their power and control.
At it’s best it can be used to connect with people, to allow us to see those who suffer instead of ignore them. It can and does both but you don’t get the good without the bad because we are all capable of both.
Faith is personal, my own path isn’t about a belief in a specific moral construct or that any one view of whatever deity you belief in is the only way but that most of these paths at their best lead to the same place.
If you believe in God, then he gave us the a diverse changing world to live in, if we all believed in the same thing would that be a better world? I think it comes with benefits and drawbacks, I think that the spice of living is in the tension between different cultures and societies and what they each believe. I think that uniformity even in what we believe would be detrimental to human civilization as a whole.
We just need to remain open to the possibilities, that there are many ways to answer the question “what do you believe and why?” and each is as valid as the next. I believe that a higher power is possible but I don’t seek or need to define it or for it to even exist. I think we can look into ourselves if we have the right support to reach our best self.
I don’t meditate that often but I do enjoy the simple act of not thinking even if its just for a few minutes in the day. It’s about being still and quiet enough to allow the world to whisper to you. We usually don’t because we are constantly on the move in a noisy world.
I think prayer is about focusing your mental energy on a specific thought but I also believe that you have to give yourself to that thought and put yourself in the best position to get to the goal but that isn’t always what prayer is about. Sometimes its just putting that thought into the universe and living in that nether space with hope to help cushion you as you fall through the chaos that is life.
My faith is personal, it doesn’t require me to validate it to anyone it is my personal relationship with either God or myself. I don’t require anyone to believe what I do because I know there are as many paths as their are people to the same destination. I understand how powerful religion is, also how powerful the scientific method is in the necessity to have proof.
Science is powerful and has given us the age of reason and the discoveries that have made the modern world possible but it can give us the mechanisms, some of the reasons why something occurs but when you drill down it can’t answer the why, only we can do that and that is more centred on philosophy than religion but I think both are useful in balance if for different reasons.
I can’t think about organized religion about thinking about the dogma and questioning the hell out of it. There are answers there if you seek them, if you need them. I don’t know where I stand in the face of that ultimate power except that I don’t need that power to exist, that it doesn’t matter in some ways, whereas in others it could make all the difference as I try to find my own path to the same destination of who I am, where I belong and how I can grow and evolve to make this fucked up world a little better than it was before I existed.