I’ve never struggled with my spirituality. I have struggled to figure out how what I believe in my heart somehow matches to that of the anthropological constructs of modern sociologically defines as the conglomeration humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions.
In other words I didn’t know what religion I was despite what my personal faith continuously led me toward.
“Faith is a commitment to live as if certain things are true, and thereby help to make them so. Faith is a commitment to live as if life is a wondrous mystery, as if life is good, as if love is divine, as if we are responsible for the well-being of those around us…. Faith is a leap of the moral imagination that connects the world as it is to the world as it might become.” – Rev. Galen Guengrich, UU
This past week at services we reflected on who we were and why we were at services. As the different members of the congregation shared their stories it reenforced why I was as well for it’s not what specifically I claim myself to believe by the commonality of our most basic human experiences that bind us.
Most organized religions ever practiced stem from the same commonality, in that they just stylistically chose to represent their interpretations of certain “unknowns” in such a way that framed it so that it provided a relief and comfort by leveraging the interpretation of the “knowns.” The reality that interpretation of what is “known” versus what is ‘not’ provides the shades of grey that make up human history. We still struggle with the definition of “known” versus ‘not’ even in our considerably advanced world today.
Knowledge is wholly relative.
For me this isn’t a post about my current beliefs or to help post something about my spirituality that would discredit by upbringing or question my family or friend’s self-prescribed definitions of religion.
I’ve always believed human knowledge was both fleeting and ever expanding and that nothing could, or should, be eternally affixed to a point in the past.
There are a tonne of ways to interpret “life” that the major religions and philosophies disagree on. Even inside of each overarching theories, or practices, there’s disagreement. Christians hardly agree having fractured several tens of times, and they’re an offshoot of Judaism which is not without its own historical splintering which came after that of the ‘pagan’ beliefs that dominated the Mediterranean and Red Seas of western history which only segmentally psuedo agreed upon on a semblance of concepts.
The more I tried to learn the more in doubt I became regarding an absolute.
“I just think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it” – Kevin Smith
Humans, unlike the minds of many animals, are capable of a linear memory which enables us to compare the experiences of the past to that of the present in order to make decisions. Knowledge becomes a building block rather than a reaction. I don’t know much about how this exactly functions but it seems to make inherent sense.
It’s not that my Roman Catholic experience in a Franco-Porto-Americian household attempted to define. It’s not what our German-Polish-American township had influenced me. It’s not what my education as a Frères des écoles chrétiennes student taught me (although, honestly the Franciscan Brothers where surprisingly equitable). And it wasn’t my last North Jersey Italian-American neighborhood history tried to impart on me. It wasn’t the Irish-Catholic, or the Russian & Greek Orthodox, or Jewish Orthodox & Passaic Reformed Judaism, or Patterson-Baptist, or greater Newark ‘new’ Iberaian-Catholic, or the Libertarian-Nondenominational-Christian, Restoration-monotheistic Christians, Market Street Newark Nuveau-Services, Dharmachakra & Vipassana Meditation Buddhist, or the Airplane movie references that probably were vaguely tongue-in-cheek EWR either. I’m sure there were probably a dozen more I’ve missed.
It isn’t any aspect of my singular upbringing that got me here it speaks to where I feel I’ve come to be where I see myself going to…
What I appreciate is after all my spiritual wanderings is that I ended up back where I began. Not because dogma or dictate mandated it, but because my heart helped me reach back to that which I already knew. I didn’t come back to being the belief of anyone else because they expected me to, wanted me to, or assumed I would, rather, I found something that matches the unrequited desires of my heart and proved to me what I’d always felt had a spiritual home despite what was forced, foisted and fumbled upon me by others. I came to this myself which made the finding of it all that much more gratifying.
The thing is, it’s all of them in their diversity and commonality, and more that I haven’t even begun to list that influenced and helped inform me on defining the gist of my own spirituality.
I’ve grown as a human being and my spirituality the same ways I’ve grown as a human being in the rest of my intellectual understandings. In my own rationality. In my own self-definition. And, in this construct, my own happiness.
The logical part of me defines this as