The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.
Even though I hold the title of Reverend, I do not consider myself a religious person. I appreciate the wisdom that we can gather from all religions. I think that there are many ways to be spiritual and the choice is ours to make. Alone, or within a group. In a place of worship, out in nature, at home. At a set time or spontaneously within the day. I am often alone when I pray or meditate but I have also had very powerful experiences by practicing within a group.
My daughter Jade felt the need to have her spirituality unfold within a community. When she was in her 20s, she started exploring Shambhala. After a few years of lay practice, she went to live as a nun in an abbey. There, she had the privilege of receiving teachings from guides such as Pema Chodron, among others. Life at the abbey is lived without distractions—no TV, some meals taken in silence and lots of meditation and introspection. Living and practicing there gave her great compassion for herself and others. She no longer lives there but she continues to be a profoundly gentle, conscious human being.
Religion Is a Contentious Issue
Discussing spirituality and religion can be a touchy thing for many people. Religions have been helpful to humanity. They have assembled populations—giving them meaning, comfort and rules to live by. But much harm has been done, and continues to be done, in the name of religion. Unfortunately, it has often been used by mankind for the wrong purposes. For power, and for the purpose of controlling and exploiting others. For the arrogance of our egos, that want to diminish others by proving themselves superior, proving themselves right. My religion says so, therefore I am right and you are wrong!
Notwithstanding the abuse issues, the plain existence of religion and spirituality is controversial. Science has helped mankind to understand so much. From that point of view, it seems that all religions are based on mere stories, created by man. But let us not dismiss the spiritual realm too hastily. Certain discoveries— namely in quantum physics—tend to reconcile science with spirituality. (Read more here.)
We Give Meaning to Our Lives
I think that tapping into our spirituality rounds us out as human beings, giving an extra depth and dimension to our presence as we walk through life. Just as our bodies have certain physical needs, I feel like there is a spiritual dimension in us that also needs nourishment. There are deep roots around the mystic. Going back in time, most human societies have practiced their spirituality, often through ceremony and ritual.
Our beliefs, religious or secular, can be very powerful. In my experience, there seems to be some sort of creative force that we can tap into when we go deep— visualizing and feeling—which helps us to attain a desired outcome. When we think of the effect placebos can have on our health, brought about only by the assumption that we are being healed, it confirms that we have the potential to mold our reality. Even if spiritual practice results in some kind of placebo effect—my beliefs taking me to a higher plane, well, what’s wrong with that? Whatever works, the proof is in the pudding, right? 😊
This is the creative power of our imaginations and of our inner worlds. By choosing our beliefs, we can enrich our lives by creating tangible situations which give us purpose and meaning. This process can also work against us. It backfires when we unconsciously hold discouraging beliefs which can lead to our unhappiness.
Putting It into Practice
Meditation is a helpful way to connect to our higher selves and ultimately, to others. We would do well to pay heed to the Dalai Lama when he says: “To save the world we must have a plan. But no plan will work unless we meditate.” Prayer is another beautiful tool which helps us get to that place of connection. I am very inspired by Marianne Williamson’s prayers, her book Illuminata has been a standard for me for many years. When I read her prayers, I take the time to feel the words in my heart. Praying from the heart, with our own words, is very powerful as well.
I like to enrich each day by expressing gratitude for my existence. I think of my parents and of the long line of ancestors that came together and resulted in my being here! I imagine the succession of events that led to the birth of our planet, our universe. Because of so many random occurrences, I’m alive! It makes me feel so small, yet so lucky. You can find this prayer here, at the end of a previous article on gratitude. You may use it as is or adapt it to your liking.
May you feel blessed!