Today, while I was reading “From medication to meditation” by Osho, I found an idea that resonates a lot with what I think about Religion. I never went to church, so I barely know about Jesus and what the Bible says. I was baptised when I was a baby, but my family doesn’t practise and certainly doesn’t preach any Christian teachings. Thus, I grew up without Religion in my life and I think this is an important piece of information for what I’m about to write in this blogpost.
A good couple of years back, the following thought crossed my mind: the sudden disconnection from Religion is the main reason why people feel so lost these days. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was far from my twenties. I don’t know where did that thought come from either, but I felt it as a truthful statement. At that time I didn’t feel the need to search for any sort of religious information or connection. As far as I can tell, I was an atheist, and the fact that I went further and further away from humanistic sciences only strengthened that reality. Here is a side note: Psychology is categorised as a social science (e.g. rather than a humanistic science (e.g. Philosophy, History, Art). Maybe that’s where the problem with Psychology resides – we took the human aspect out of it in the name of scientific objectivity.
My interest in Religion was rekindled much later, probably when I started doing research on Mindfulness. I had the understanding that I had a closer connection with life’s aesthetics and philosophical thinking than most people around me, but I never saw such thing as part of Spirituality or Religion. Both these concepts were strange and completely unfamiliar to me. I honestly thought I was probably just crazy and that I had what people would call a “poet’s soul”. This poetic nature brought me a lot of problems though because it involved being extremely sensitive and artsy which at that time was basically a free-pass to being labelled as “weird”. So I did try to repress this nature, especially when I got further and further into my academic life. I already talked a little bit about this on my previous post.
My research on Mindfulness and profound attraction for uncomfortable questions led me to learn about Buddhism. I studied the work of some ancient and contemporanean monks and I read about different approaches within Buddhism. I grew fond of Buddhism and its ideas about the mind, the human suffering, and the pathway to enlightenment. Yet I never felt like saying “I’m Buddhist”. One day, I had plenty of time and I visited the Gatwick’s Airport chapel. The room was empty and that was a relief. I sat down and I closed my eyes. After a while, a man, a priest I suppose, materialised himself in the room and he asked what Religion did I follow. I answered I was into Buddhism to what he stated “So you’re a Buddhist”. I couldn’t tell him yes. I was interested in Buddhism, I still am, but I can’t claim I’m a Buddhist, so all I could reply was “Well, sort of… not exactly”.
That man in the room judged my religious uncertainty and he even mocked my words. I don’t know what was his Religion and I don’t think I asked him. Knowing someone’s Religion is not something I need to know. I like to think I respect anyone’s religious beliefs as long as they offer me the same comprehension. What I don’t respect though is the lack of sensitivity and how religious people tend to quickly judge others who are still searching or who have no particular religious attachment. I have always thought that people with this kind of behaviour don’t really understand what they usually preach and are taught in the church. They hear the teachings but they don’t fully grasp their meaning.
Osho says, and I agree with, that when people attach themselves to a religious label they automatically reduce reality to a puddle. However, it’s worse than that. Reducing religious experience to a single label (e.g. Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism) is to reduce our multidimensional human experience to one single layer of existence. In other words, when we blindly attach ourselves to a religion, we close ourselves to the possibility of understanding humankind and a great variety of divine teachings from around the world. If you are a Christian, you will probably miss the perspective of Buddha, and vice-versa.
In order to stay open and receptive, I choose not to attach myself to only one Religion. Plus, I see meaning and truth in all of them and I came to grow the idea within me that there is indeed only one God. God has, however, many faces: Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Allah… each one of these avatars brought us a set of lessons. How can I elect only one teacher to learn from? I love learning and I want to learn from all of them and all of you. And if you’re asking yourself how did an atheist started believing in God, you can find some clues in a post I wrote some weeks ago about Psi-Phenomena.