I encountered a few things over the past week that caused me to reconsider my entire understanding of spirituality. They caused me to re-examine myself.

Beginning and Preface
In the beginning around age 7 or 8, life was simple but there was always something in the back of my mind. Something that was always echoing in my mind between thoughts. What is this? What does Me in this world mean? Am I needing a purpose?

So in sixth grade I encountered one of the most amazing teachers in my life. I had a fairly natural aptitude for computers and my teacher encouraged me in this pursuit. This gave me an "identity." Something that defined what I was, yet I would still look in the mirror and ask who I was at really was. My focus in computers at the time gave me something to do and think about until mid-high school. At age 14, I began asking myself the questions of life in more detail. Who am I? What is my purpose? Do I need a purpose? The who question bothered me greatly. I felt like a carbon copy of others. An empty shell.

Over one summer, I believe at age 16 I had a discussion with a friend of mine. We somehow ended up talked about personal identity. I discovered many of her questions and conclusions were similar to mine. We managed to help each other unlock the first pieces of the "puzzle." We decided that choices define who we are,as well as a couple other things. This answer was satisfactory enough to lay the main "who am I" question to rest for a while. This discussion changed my life and started my spiritual journey.

At the age of 17 I began to seek. I searched for an answer as to weather there really was a God, and if there was what it meant. I looked for God for a long time. My other blog posts cover the decision specifically so I will omit the middle-story here, but I decided that I would choose to believe in God. After I decided to believe in God, I looked at religions. I am rebellious when it comes to religion. I don't like what it creates - the walls that it builds. Still I searched. I looked at many up to now. I have decided to follow no specific religious doctrine, but to follow what I can accept and believe in my heart. This is where I concluded a relationship with God (atleast in my P.O.V.) was best developed personally between God and myself - not through someone else.

I struggled for a long time after accepting God. I finally decided to choose to accept Jesus, and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs I have committed. I felt confident in my choices of faith and belief in God and Jesus. I looked further. I read teachings of many religions. Hinduism and Buddhism resonated well with me. for me they offered a very direct logical view on life. The teachings were clear and were more tolerant, than some others in the attitudes of portrayal.

As you can see from a previous post, I decided that as for my primary belief on what takes one into Gods home, it is tolerance. I found tolerance to make sense. I found it to fit with the world, and it echoed what I wanted to hear.

My Blindness and Ignorance
I secretly had great pleasure in choosing tolerance as a tool of judgment in my belief. I have this hatred of structured religion. More so than the others - of traditional Christianity. It infuriated me, when followers of Christ were lashing out against others in the world for believing other things (Oprah in particular - her belief that there are many paths to God and people lashing out at her for having this belief). People act out in such anger and hatred in God's and Jesus' name. They seemed to be intolerant of anything that wasn't what they saw. My hatred and anger of these people was no better. I was committing against my own belief. I saw these religious "zealots" as different people because of their actions based on their beliefs. I was disgusted by them. I was blind. I should not judge them on their beliefs even if their beliefs seem to infringe on others. I shouldn't judge them, because what they believe shouldn't matter in weather I love them or hate them. This time and reflection has revealed to me.

Refraction - A Different Picture
Recently I have started to be concerned more and more with the "other side." What if God isn't who I think he is? What if when judgment comes I am wrong? What if I make the biggest mistake of eternity in my choices of beliefs?
I don't want to go-to hell. I started looking into theology. The 7 deadly sins is one of the things that arose to me (Catholic based - Envy, Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Pride, Wrath.) These sins are hell bound things from a Catholic perspective. I had apathy towards them, before my recent considerations of what a mis-perspective of God could mean.

I have a problem. What do I accept? What do I reject? How do I decide what is truth and what is misinformation and what is outright lies? I can't allow my heart to place my soul in the hands of someone else. I can't assert that what someone tells me is right because they say they are an authority in it. I cannot assert that because it is in a book it is divine and true. These are things that I believe with all that I know and all my heart right now.
So how do I decide?
This is where an enlightenment occurred.
I shouldn't be considering where information, beliefs, or ideas come from. I should be considering the information itself. I should seek to filter not sources of beliefs and information, but the information itself. Applying this to the Catholic Seven Deadly Sins, I don't want those things in my life. They are not what I desire. So weather or not my soul's placement is based on them, I choose to do all that I can to avoid committing them.

My desire is to live a life of goodness, happiness, and love. I want to have joy. I want to take every present moment and lose myself in it's beauty. I want these things. These things that many religions say followers must follow to go-to heaven. I don't want them because of the "spiritual authorities." I don't want them, because it is catholic, Mormon, satanic, or protestant. I want them because they are aspects of what I believe is an ingredient for a good man. Things that will help me make the world better, and actually live. They are things that temper my mind. That train me to make choices and do what it takes to secure my destination.

There is one small conflict or problem, but at the time it does not weigh heavily upon me. There are some things that I may choose apathy towards or reject. These are things of religious ceremony. Things like confessions, penitence, or sacrament for the Catholics or things like marriage for eternity required to be in a Morman temple, things like going to Sunday school everyday or paying tithe. These things I can't evaluate. There isn't a clear "this is something I want because it is an aspect of who I choose to be." It is more of a "formality."

Alot of these ideas, I would have outright rejected a couple years ago. I resented things because of who said them or where they came from. Things that meant nothing to me a year ago, I suddenly find amazing beauty and quality in. Things that seemed obvious before have upon a second look revealed some of the greatest secrets of life. This spiritual puzzle has an amazing beauty to it, even if it turns out nothing beyond this world exists.

I understand some of why some people may act the way they do in the name of religion. When you believe so strongly that in order not to goto hell certain things must be abided by and someone comes and tells your friends and family something different. It's significant. To you they are misguiding your loved ones. They are sending them to a place of pain and suffering. For most people it seems to be an insecurity, however - "Everything different has to be squelched because if my view is the only one on the table it's an easy choice on what it is right." There is a great conflict for those that have loved ones and firmly believe something different, that what a loved one does. At least don't hate each other because of the difference in belief, remember why you care about others - I don't think it should be because of what they believe.

Dec 10, 2008