I often wonder what a pagan would do if they saw my rune-bag with an Om symbol on it. What would a Buddhist say if I they saw me using runes? Would the Cathedral staff have kicked me out if saw me doing yoga in the chapel, on my way to work? What would my colleagues have thought if I told them I’d just been praying in a Cathedral?
Most people I know have no objection to my mixed and practical approach to spirituality, since this kind of thing is becoming more and more common. There’s even an acronym for it SBNR (spiritual but not religious), and my broad stance has allowed me to connected with religious and non-religious people alike. Last weekend I was at an army base and ended up “showing and telling” my meditation mat (above) to some military band members. One Christmas Day, I spent the morning with Christians, went to a Buddhist lunch and had dinner with an atheist.
At the heart of my spirituality are essentially Buddhist ideals:
- To love all living things (which are all connected)
- To lead a meaningful and joyful life
- To value compassion
- To live intuitively
- To value the profound things I experience, even if it may be invisible or unexplainable.
What’s very interesting to me, is that I know religious folks, agnostics and atheist with whom I share these common ideals. As Bill Bailey puts is “if pushed, most people will write Jedi.”
Notice that I haven’t mentioned God?
Well, my father has a theory that people are so distracted by modern life that they are never truly with themselves. Then, one day, they might sit down quietly in a church or sacred building, and in that quiet, profound thoughts that have been waiting for years to be heard, fill their mind. They are suddenly overpowered by waves of joy and feel totally present.
They might assume this to be a religious experience, and attribute it to the religion associated with the church they are in, and maybe join that religion. This is natural, yet its easier to believe that such a deep and experience must comes from God, rather than from within us…or are they the same? Or is it a particular God? Or is it one of many gods? How do we name that experience? If it is a religious experience, then that implies it is connected to the principles of a particular religion… but if it is a spiritual experience, it can simply stand alone and mean whatever it means to you, and I find this much freer. It means trusting ourselves and our own personal sense of “God” (a.k.a. gnosis).
To me, whether we call it God, or source, or the Buddha within, or being present, or a feeling of awe, or simply the joy being ourselves, doesn’t matter. Whatever we experience which is profound, joyful, powerful and deep is of great value. It is to be pursued, sought, followed and respected.
That profound feeling is our compass. When we feel that feeling we are led to be the best we can be, and do the best we can for ourselves, the planet and all living things. It’s my opinion that everyone can find this inner sense, but religious people can potentially be distracted from it by the rules and regulations of their religion, whilst atheists are more likely to struggle to put their “intuitive sense” at the center of their lives. However, I do see being religous, agnostic or atheist all as legitimate paths to finding this same “internal sense” or “internal compass” which I would call spiritual, as in “aligned”.
This sense of alignment is so important right now. To work together and secure our future on the earth will require every single one of us to follow our inner compass. We don’t need to be religious to do this but we do need to be spiritual.
Also check out the Symphony For Happines Vlog
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