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Featured Am I looking for Religion or Spirituality?

Discussion in 'Seekers Circle' started by littlefire, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    Hello RF buddies,

    I'm in a weird spiritual time right now and could use some input. I was raised Southern Baptist (in a sort of extreme and isolated way), but years of religious and emotional abuse, in addition to me going to a secular college and realizing that some of my beliefs were hurtful towards others, has caused me to shed Christianity. It's weird for me being in this place because pre-college, Christianity and biblical literalism were my life. I've memorized over 3000 Scriptures and took everything so seriously, but I was so depressed and so scared, and the negative effect it was having on my mental health forced me to show it the door about 9 months ago. (I still struggle with depression, but at least I don't regularly feel like God is going to strike me with lightning when I least expect it).

    I still consider myself a deeply spiritual person, and still have times when I feel connected to the sky, the land, the water, other people.... the little "mantra" keeping me going right now is "the divine in me sees the divine in you." This statement is incredibly meaningful to me and essentially sums up my beliefs right now: universalism, connection with nature (and energies and past inhabitants of the land), some type of spirit in all things (not really pantheism)...and love, understanding, and fullness as the point of existence.

    Where I'm struggling right now is that after spending my entire life connected to a (very niche) religious system, I don't have a religious home. I deeply appreciate the wisdom in virtually every religion I've encountered. I went to a Quaker meeting for a while, but something about it wasn't working for me...I think it was that the expectation of physically hearing from God during the course of an hour in silence seemed a little overambitious....

    The problems are that I want to stay open to new beliefs and new information (my life has changed so much in the past few years that any expectation of consistency seems ludicrous) and don't want to feel tied down to a dogma or set of regulations that I have to stress over again (I'd actually consider religious regulations triggering for me....I've been reading Pirke Avot just to learn more about Judaism and the Talmud but have had to stop and take breathers so many times because I'll find myself shaking with anxiety in the middle of it). But having a religious community is something that I really, really miss. I think my ideal community would be some type of interfaith group where people came together just to connect with each other, with the divine, with nature through environmental justice, and with their communities through social justice and activism...but if anything's overambitious, it's that.

    Cursory introductions I've received to Druidry and to De'anism and other forms of Goddess spirituality have been extremely healing for me (I'm reading "Dancing with Nemetona" and it's soooo beautiful), but I'm scared that I'm understanding them incorrectly and that I'd be better off avoiding the spiritual altogether to avoid angering any people or Gods. But that's the anxiety talking.

    All that to say, I am really not sure where to go from here. I really want to look more into Druidry and Goddess spirituality but I'm scared of running into another set of dogmatic expectations and am just as scared of the consequences of making my spirituality my own in a "build a spirituality" type way because of my fear of doing things wrong and bringing some type of physical or spiritual damnation to myself and/or others. There's also the fact that I could NEVER consider a religion I espouse the end-all-be-all or "more right" than someone else's, because we're all just trying our best to cope with reality and be our best each day.

    So, should I be looking for a new religion or a personal spirituality, or both? If anyone involved in Druidry/De'anism/Filianism/Goddess-based religions and spiritualities has any insight, that would be particularly beneficial. Maybe what I need is just reassurance.

    Thanks for reading this crazy backstory of nonsense. I really appreciate y'all's time and wisdom. :) I see the divine in all of you <3

    -littlefire
     
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  2. sovietchild

    sovietchild Well-Known Member

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    What about Islam?
     
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  3. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    You did realise that this is generally the way 'Namaste', 'Namaskaram' 'Vannkkam" and some other Hindu greetings are generally translated into English, no?
     
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  4. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    Haha yes I did, but I had long since forgotten where I had first seen that statement. My apologies, and thank you <3
     
  5. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    I have looked into Islam...I think for where I'm at right now psychologically, the belief system and practice are too rigid for me. I honestly think I'd approach each prayer during the day with so much anxiety... ("what if I miss a prayer? What if I don't do enough good during this life? Allah is going to smite me!"....etc.)
     
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  6. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    Both neither. Just follow what makes you happy. I sincerely doubt God or Goddesses are so petty and insecure that they would punish you or others just because you get something wrong. Unless they have a short temper I suppose.
     
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  7. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Thanks. I was just curious if you knew. I don't normally respond to introductory posts, as all that stuff is up to you to figure out, but that phrase caught my eye. Best wishes in finding something friendlier. Sounds like you sort of went through hell. So, yes the divine in me salutes the divine in you.

    Best wishes.
     
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  8. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    I sincerely hope that I'm able to do this, and even more sincerely hope that you're right about deities' security levels :)
     
  9. Tabu

    Tabu Active Member

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    Hi littlefire,
    "the divine in me " which you mentioned, Brahma Kumaris consider it to be the Soul which is intrinsically good.
    If interested in knowing more about the BK concept of the soul , see here.
    Brahma Kumaris - Soul
     
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  10. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    I can sympathize with your plight especially when you describe your experience in a formalized religion appears to have had such a negative effect as you describe it...

    "Christianity and biblical literalism were my life. I've memorized over 3000 Scriptures and took everything so seriously, but I was so depressed and so scared, and the negative effect it was having on my mental health forced me to show it the door about 9 months ago."

    It may be best not to have any contact with formalized religion for awhile and maybe seek God and pray to Him in a more isolated state ... Go on a vision quest perhaps.. All the great prophets went to the wilderness over time and left the more formalized religions for awhile.. that is the established structure.

    I believe there is such a thing as "religious trauma syndrome".
     
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  11. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    @arthra thank you so much for the suggestion. A vision quest or some kind of spiritual retreat sounds like a really great idea. It's been hard to find time to sleep much less physically isolate myself for a while, but I think practicing reflection and separation mentally and spiritually might help me a lot. Thank you again for that.
     
  12. New Age Spiritual Leader

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    You wrote:

    Hi "littlefire"....New Age here.....with my very first post. And you have become the lucky one now.... with the being the first recipient and all....WHEW-WHEW!! PARTY TIME!! :eek:)

    Seriously.....one does not need to be part of anything religious in order to be spiritual. One just needs a few personal traits to move you along into a world of kindness and love. Honesty with themselves and others and just being yourself.

    IMO - if one were to be honest is all they do and say, they will see that this is a dramatic change for anyone who had been confined to a religious world. They WILL find it may be cumbersome and at times very hard to shed the misinformation that they heard, or the ruse that was played upon them, or remove the many false claims they have been told.....but knowing these things with the facts and truths they will find, it will eliminate the fear from the ridicule others will make upon them, because of what you may say or do.

    Just think if you were honest......you would have been belittled even more. No person needs that to happen to them and I am quite surprised that anyone allows it to occur. Being honest seems to be an enemy of a "believer".

    If one is honest with themselves and others, they will realize those facts that were never told to them about religion as a whole.
    - "God" never wrote the Bible - men did.
    - there are no heretics - only those people that other men have decided upon.
    - Everyone can be inspired by "God" - not jsut a certain selection of men, that other men decided upon.

    Why you may ask.....it all starts with the fundamentals that they refuse to respond to with complete honesty if and when they would answer the following questions. In my travels, not one so-called "Christian" would answer any of these questions with complete honesty That was if they even made an attempt to do so. And if they were to, they always will add some sort of man-made qualifier to their answer like "The Catholic Church inspired by the HS decided".....or.....from the Protestant side, "your questions are stupid and are nothing but anti-christ material".

    No these questions are not.....What they do is require the reader to answer them with complete honesty and then to show their selves how they failed at doing what they say.

    How would you answer them, now that you have departed from religion?

    ******************************
    Where does "God" specifically states whom is inspired and whom is not?
    Where does "God" specifically states which texts are more holier than others?
    Where does "God" specifically states which texts are scripture and which are not?
    ******************************

    The other - "be yourself". You get to do what you want, because you get to decide on what you do. No one in this world can dictate what your beliefs are. They have no right. They have nothing involved. Oh...they want too sooooo bad to control your life. Only you have this ability. THEY DON'T.
    Their ways....you've seen.....which can be mean, hypocritical, hateful, abusive, and so many horrendous things......you really have done a great step. Be spiritual. Be happy. Go ride a roller coaster for fun! Play $100 on black at a Roulette game.

    Be yourself......because.....you have to answer for your successes and for your mistakes....no one else will.

    Be kind to others and help when you can. Let others know the evils within religion to save others from the ordeals that you went through.

    Self - learn it, live it, love it.

    After all......it is you. Can you love yourself and your way of life?

    I think you can.

    Peace and light to you and yours.
     
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  13. Darz

    Darz Member

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    If you want a spiritual community that does not have a religious creed, I'd suggest going to a Unitarian Universalist Church. To me it sounds like you would fit right in.
     
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  14. Rival

    Rival Iiu em hotep.
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    Religion/Spirituality isn't what makes you feel good. It's what you come to the conclusion is true. Feel good ≠ true.
     
  15. soma

    soma John Kuykendall

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    Littlefire, Salutations to the Divinity within you. Religion brings us to God, but spirituality puts you in God.

    The exceptional finding that there is one God awaits each one of us, giving us the ability to change our lives for the better by bringing together everything in our life in order to connect and know where we belong. When we understand the true meaning of Unity, our concept of God expands and builds a greater awareness of God’s presence within us and in our relationships in diversity that lead us to peace. It is a journey towards unity and a new way of living where the obstructions between the internal and external come to an end and harmony and serenity become the norm. As we progress on this journey to oneness, we find our lives gradually transformed in a positive way, which includes both the conscious and unconscious. This balance brings the discovery of a new reality along with equilibrium between the rational and irrational, the intellect and instinct, and between unity in diversity and diversity in unity. The one thing we have in common is our diversity where we think freely as individuals as we see fit, together like it should be in unison like the different branches on a tree bearing fruit. Separate diverse individuals aware, appreciating and respecting different values, each other and our human ability to develop, to find our own way in life as well as our talents and importance in order to contribute to the whole. Deep inside we all know that we are unique, awe-inspiring beings with the ability to come to terms with our life and to put something together to enrich and tap into our potential.
     
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  16. Vancouversailor

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    I grew up in a home with parents who were and still are very devote Christians (Lutheran) of the bible thumping, sulphur breathing, hell and damnation, don't do anything without opening your bible, preferably old testament, and grabbing a quote, kind.
    By the time I was in grade 10 I had pretty much figured out the absurdity of religion in general and their kind in particular, and I was pretty vocal about my realizations and thoughts. That was half a century ago. For the first decades it resulted in a pretty frosty relationship with my parents while for the past decade or so I have been officially 'shunned'. a barbaric religious practice where one family member is officially 'exiled', disinherited, never spoken to or heard from
    Obviously the lack of any religious affiliation as well as the lack of meaningful family relationships created a void that cried out to be filled. For me I filled the void with an active form of spirituality entailing being in close contact with nature. I lived in a coastal town and got myself a boat, on days off I'd be up at sunrise, head out onto the ocean, and pass the day fishing and taking photographs. I'd go for weekend hikes in the high mountains, always alone, sleeping in a pup tent and observing every creature I passed along the way. These were habits that I have followed for the past 50 years, though the mountain hikes have been replaced with walks along the oceanfront seawall here in Vancouver.
    This form of active spirituality through a close embrace of nature definitely filled the void for me and still does. Sometimes I get the urge for some intellectual stimulation, and besides reading posts here at RF I'll attend meetings of my local Humanist Society group, an international movement that has chapters in most cities.
    Intellectually I've long since come to terms with the fact that there is no heaven or no hell, besides what we create for ourselves here on Earth. So in other words, make the best of the time one is allotted on this planet, do good for the sake of it not to earn karma, avoid harming others, not because you don't want to be reincarnated as a worm but because it is the right thing to do.
    I'd say that following that path and those guidelines I have had and still have a pretty wonderful life, which I never would have wanted to exchange for that of my other siblings who either chose to suck up to my parents in order to cull favour, or pretend to do so.
    Anyway, that worked for me as a way of creating a meaningful life without the intrusion of organized religion.
     
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  17. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    Funny you mention that: I took one of those "what religion do you follow" quizzes for funsies and UU was my top result. :)
     
  18. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    I do hope so <3 thank you for your response.
     
  19. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    Thanks for the reply Rival. I definitely understand where you're coming from. But a lot of my life has been spent suppressing and praying against my feelings so that I could try to accept more fully what others were telling me was true, never realizing that feelings are information from my body and soul to my mind. Only once I started grappling with those feelings was I able to realize that I didn't believe that the evangelical Christian version of "truth" was actually true. So for me, finding something my feelings resonate with and finding something that my heart can accept as true are very similar pursuits.
     
  20. littlefire

    littlefire You can call me Fio

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    This is so so so beautiful. Thank you kindly, John. <3 Honestly, this is really all I want in life.
     
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