Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Non-Religious Beliefs

Growing up, I was a firm believer in Christianity--it was what I was taught to believe and I accepted it. I believed that the only way to live a morally righteous life was through Jesus Christ. I felt pity towards those who didn't believe in God. At times, it even made me angry. These beliefs and feelings continued to play a major role in my life until I turned 15, despite no longer attending religious services.

So, what changed?

Well, at 15, I was wise beyond my years. I started reflecting on my life and examining the world from a different perspective. It soon became apparent that because I was no longer attending Sunday services, I was being judged negatively by the people I grew up with. They believed that I was on the "wrong path" and that I was in desperate need of being "saved." At one point, someone even suggested that "Satan was at work."

At first, I found these suggestions laughable, but later, I really started questioning myself. Was I wrong? Was I straying away from "the righteous path?"

I pondered these questions for months before I finally concluded that no, I was not wrong, nor was I a bad person for my choices. I was simply finding myself--exploring the world and forming my own beliefs, not simply accepting those that were instilled upon me as a child.

I was growing up and it bothered me that the people who taught me to never "cast the first stone" were the same people who were beating me to a pulp with them. It bothered me that I was considered less of a person for choosing to do good based on my own desires as opposed to doing good because it's "God's will." It bothered me that more harm than good was coming of organized religion, such as crimes against humanity in the name of "God."

I wanted absolutely no part in that. I didn't feel the need to "belong" to a religious organization. It was then that I began practicing what I like to call my "non-religious" beliefs.

So, what do I believe?

I believe in something greater than myself.

I don't label this "greater force" as "God" or "Jesus." I simply believe it to be a single divine energy, or the driving force, of the universe. I don't believe this energy is a "being," so to speak. I believe it to be a force that manifests itself equally within us all. Some people just aren't as "in tune" with their true divinity.

I also believe in both negative and positive energies. After all, without the bad, would good even exist? It's all about balance.

I believe that Jesus was a man.

More than a man, in some ways, as I believe he truly recognized his divine nature. I believe that he felt his purpose in life was to teach others about their divinity as well. Jesus taught LOVE and forgiveness. He did not choose that you would be stoned to death for your wrongdoings.

I believe that every living thing has a "soul."

Yes. Every living thing. Humans, animals, plants. Everything. I suppose you could say that I took this idea from Buddhism, but truth is, it's just something that resonates with me.

Most importantly, I believe in LOVE.

I believe that every negative emotion is a result of fear, and I refuse to live in fear because fear holds us back. I believe in forgiveness, in doing good, in helping others, and in spreading positivity. I believe in loving others despite their faults. I believe in the benefit of the doubt, and I believe that Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and all other "religious leaders" all wanted to teach the power of one thing: LOVE.

If my beliefs make me wrong, then I don't want to be right. I find it incredibly insulting when someone tells me that I am on a negative path, when the basis of my belief system is positivity.

What do my children believe?

Now that I'm an adult with children of my own, I'm often asked what beliefs I'd like to instill in them.

To be frank, my children are able to believe whatever they want to believe. My daughter only turned one in February, so she's not old enough to understand such matters just yet. My son, however, is turning 7 this summer, and has beliefs of his own.

He knows about the Bible, about God, and about Jesus. He also knows about Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek mythology, and ancient Egyptian beliefs. Based on what he knows, he's chosen to believe in God, in heaven, and in life after death. He takes interest in the fact that ancient Egyptians used gods to explain natural occurrences. Sometimes, he prays at night.

And you know what? I'm perfectly fine with that.

He believes in doing good. He believes in helping people. He knows that it is wrong to judge someone based on their appearance. He knows that it is okay to forgive.

I'm raising quite the young man, and I am incredibly proud of him. I refuse to condition him to believe something simply because find solace in it. I want my children to explore the world with their eyes wide open--never being blinded to the realities of the world.

I'm fully aware that religion is a controversial subject, so let's put aside our disagreements and have a civil discussion. What are your beliefs? Why? Do you agree or disagree with any of the above statements I've made? Why or why not? Please be respectful.

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