Religion: Good or Bad?

Just recently I got a few emails asking me where do I stand on religion or if I’m an atheist; well here it is:

Those of you who know me personally know I do not believe in Religion. I am what nowadays is call an Omnist or spiritual.
For those who don’t know what the term Omnist means here is a quick definition “one who believes there is some truth in all teachings”.  I don’t usually call myself an Omnist out loud as most people would misunderstand the meaning. I don’t believe in any religion but I do believe in a greater power.  Personally I see all religions as small pieces of a big tapestry; a tapestry which in my opinion also includes atheists and all races without prejudice.  I feel God or the God force is everywhere.  I believe this force chooses to expresses itself differently in everyone in order for us to learn. I also believe each one of us is on a specific place on our spiritual growth.

To me all Religions hold a piece of the much bigger puzzle. I find something in just about every teaching is beautiful and untainted; why then am I being asked if I have something against those who practice any type of religion? Well to be fair I have written and been vocal about my sadness and disappointment towards many people who claim to be of a specific religion and who feel they are defending their religion by hurting others in the process. Those people belittle others and seldom; at a core level; don’t live what they preach.  They follow doctrine because is the acceptable thing to do, were raised into it or for personal vanity and glory.
My “beef” as some would say is not then towards the “pure teachings” of a religion but rather the very “doctrine like” stand many “religions” have taken; by doing so forgetting the actual meaning of what their religion teaches.

I have spent many years of my life studying, exploring and getting involved with different faiths. The combination of my research along with personal life experiences and that of others ( I like to analyze, dissect and pay attention to what happens around me) have led me to the same conclusion….

Many of the teachings of pretty much all religions are beautiful and productive to the human soul and its development; however there are those who have twisted and changed those teachings in order to fit a personal agenda.  The moment a Religion has to teach you to hate another human being or to see them as less or feel pity for those souls who do not practice the same way as you do then that religion is no longer beneficial.

Many people like to state their religion does not teach them to hate, however they do not seem to understand that looking down at your neighbor because he or she does not practice or share your beliefs, dresses differently than you, or something else does not make you a good human being. If someone is going to use a particular creed to make themselves feel better than another person then that person in my personal opinion is following religious doctrine without understanding the actual meaning his or her religion is trying to convey.

I have met many people from different religions who claim their religion preaches love.  They claim to love being helpful to their neighbors, however upon closer inspection I’ve noticed their doing so doesn’t come from the heart but rather from their ego.  Many do it just to show everyone else who they are helping and why.  At best they show pity towards the person they are helping; “Savior syndrome”; that to me is not love nor what the actual teachings were trying to get its members to understand.

Of course there are many people who are excellent human beings from many walks of life and different religious backgrounds who DO understand the teachings and practice them without falling victim to their false ego; their learnings and practicing of them have helped them grow into beautiful human beings. They are very open minded and loving towards others of any background without a desire to convert the other person; the moment you want to convert you are not loving your neighbor, you are recruiting. They also have a clear understanding of the what forgiveness means, knowing a person has a right to stand for self when violated without becoming a violator himself.

To love your neighbor means to accept them as they are yet without enabling ill behavior. Those who truly understand this, do not pretend to be perfect and DO practice their teachings in every aspect of life; they don’t pick and choose from their teachings whatever is convenient for them. Their life is in coherency with the teachings of love that every religion has at it’s core.

Those who truly believe; who don’t conveniently interpret their religious teachings or core values differently depending on which way the wind blows or what they can get out of the deal; those are the ones that do understand its teachings and its love.

My believe is this: We are all human and life is a school. I personally believe understanding and illuminance are born out of search, learning and embracing all spiritual teachings. To me your desire to understand your maker, God, Universe, Universal Teacher or whatever else you wish to call the God force, should surpass the limitations of your religion. It is my believe that a person’s desire should be to learn more and more about self and the universe.  Personally I believe God and your love for him become more real as your understanding of it all grows; because the better you understand the better you can relate to it; it’s no longer a concept outside of you but a personal one.  I believe one can’t truly love that which you don’t know or understand, much less if you don’t have a deep understanding of self. Yes you can have faith, however there are different levels of faith and personally I believe the degrees vary as you seek deeper, learn more and understand more.

I can’t understand it when people fight over religion.  People don’t seem to recognize they are not fighting over God/Love/Life but over a set doctrine. That bothers me as I feel they don’t seem to recognize God is love and real justice…God/the universal force is not about war and hate or thinking of yourself as higher than some other soul because you follow a specific religion on set days of the week.

I also don’t believe on those who twist the meaning of these words and think love means subjugating one self to abuse. Many people seem to miss the teachings of so many wonderful prophets, spiritual teachers from so many different backgrounds.  Love starts with self love, when you self love you don’t allow others to mistreat you, neither do you hate. Love starts with self respect.  Too many people talk about respect but few actually understand it.  First of all one needs to respect his or herself–this is usually confused with rigid attitude or overly prude behavior, false etiquette while in public, specific dress codes, etc.  The word respect originates from the Latin “Respetare” which literally means repetition+observation.  So let me elaborate on this; what the word respect actually is trying to convey is a person who constantly is observing his own behavior in order to improve oneself; in other words constant introspection in order to grow; self development!  You cannot claim to respect yourself simply because you follow doctrine or dress a certain way.  To respect yourself you are going to have to confront the parts of you that you try to run away from.  It is a “solo” road, not one focused on external salvation. 

There is a great quote which summarizes this and which may be difficult to understand but if you can learn it, research its meaning and get it, you will see that it truly does summarize many of the greatest teachings: “When you can look at a pile of Gold through the same eyes as you do when you look at a pile of nothing then you are seeing accurately; only then can you make the right choice”.  It  means you transcend your mind’s limitations and start to see through your soul eyes. Differences cannot be avoided and if one needs to respond in order to protect the innocent then it should be done but no through the eyes of hate or anger but at a moment of calmness.

I sometimes say that given my life’s history,  had retaliated when I was angry to those who have hurt me or have been vindictive towards me, I would either have murdered some or put them in jail. If I chose to take what is not mine every time I felt hurt by another I probably would be rich but very poor of spirit and living a  hypocritical life.
I am not rich nor do riches impress me in the least. I do get angry, I do feel pain, frustration, resentment, and its okay to feel that way; its called having emotions. It is part of being human and having a human experience!  I have made many mistakes yet there have been times when those whom I may have hurt due to my mistakes took justice in their own hands.  Their so called justice, far outweighed any transgressions I could have been responsible for.  Some of those times, those who transgressed on me and my family have hidden behind religion; sadly their religious leaders or peers have enabled such ignorant conduct…but hold on, don’t they teach about forgiveness? That is the problem with misunderstanding concepts and choosing to always look out rather than in.  For those type of people it is always someone else’s fault and never theirs–I’ve made plenty of mistakes and am yet to meet anyone who has lead a “perfect” life.

It is not natural or healthy to not ever give yourself permission to feel negative emotions. If those who hide behind smiles while being vindictive to others actually allowed themselves to feel the anger in a healthy way, chances are they would surpass and integrate those emotions while being able to recognize their own shortcomings instead of going around hurting others while covering their deeds under the guise of a religious name. Then they would spend more energy on fixing that within them that needs fixing or improving vs going around protecting an image while quietly taking “vengeance” in their own hands.  It’s time to recognize that vindictiveness isn’t the same as standing up for one self and those who promote such behavior or condone it are in as much need of help as the person who commits the action.

The perfect person who only lives focusing on rainbows and unicorns fails to understand that life doesn’t exist; we came to this world to conquer those parts of us which are what some call our darkness.  We came to learn, to transcend, to illuminate ourselves, to create and give meaning to our own lives, to leave this world a bit better than we found it.

When someone attacks me or offends me, I don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt or that am not upset or angry. As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t believe such attitude is healthy; denial never allows for healing. I don’t care what others think of me when am upset because I know at the end of the day I felt the emotion and learned what I can from it. I know at the end of the day I can look at people straight in their eyes; including those who have hurt me; and know that although I could have retaliated in the exact same way or worst I did not.  The same attitude goes towards those whom I have hurt, why? Because I know who I am and I tend to apologize when I know I have hurt someone, other times I am not even given the chance to do so but I don’t feel guilt because I know by now their retaliation has far outdone my error.  I am no saint, nor do I care to be…I am human and I am working on myself.

We are all human; it’s time to start accepting our humanity and by doing so embracing our divinity while understanding that none of us are perfect.  Being divine isn’t to be perfect, to be divine is to have the power to transform your life.   I find it very beautiful indeed to see more and more people willing to openly accept their imperfections, drop all pretenses and work on that which needs to be healed and/or developed.

So there you go, those are my beliefs and they work for me. If your beliefs, your religion makes you a better person, capable of being open minded, where your values are in coherency with your actions then all the more power to you. If on the other hand your religion excuses your hating or hurting of others, if it excuses the taking of your neighbor’s sustenance because you felt hurt then I believe you are following doctrine, not the actual teachings of whatever religion you claim to follow.

Finally let me just say that I often come across a quote which I tend to discuss with my daughters as I personally believe it states well how things should be “Love should be our Religion, Humanity should be our race”.
It is indeed a beautiful quote, we are not there yet but if we all saw through those eyes, imagine where we would be.

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By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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