Intro to Spirituality:

Posted: September 29, 2012 in IJRS Courses

1. Where have your spiritual beliefs originated? For instance, were you raised with a religion, or were religious and spiritual topics rarely addressed in your house? Have your spiritual beliefs changed over time? If so, what contributed to the change?

—I already have the feeling that this is going to be a really long answer. So please bear with me here. My parents have been divorced since I was 5 years old. I lived with both of them as they had shared custody. So I would see my Dad every-other-weekend, and I lived with my Mother for the remainder of the time.
My Father’s side of the family was mainly Roman-Catholic (as far as religion goes). So while my Grandparents were alive, they would take me to church with them, and tried to raise me as Catholic (even though I went to a Methodist Pre-School).
My Mother on the other hand was not highly religious until I turned 8 years old. Then she realized that she had done a lot of wrong in her life, she feared an eternity of damnation, and so, she contacted a church, had the Pastor come to our house to try and convince my sister and I that God was our path, and soon, we were going to church every Sunday as Baptists (I even got Baptized a few months later).

I wanted to follow my Mother and Sister in their religious path, but, Christianity was always lacking something for me. I hated how the Church used ‘fear’ as a way to convert people. There were a bunch of other things I did not agree with as well, such as the hate against gays and others (for God knows not hate but only love…or so I thought), the giving of your WHOLE paycheck every 3 months for GOD even though the only thing that happened was the Pastor got a new car >.>
I also did not like the fact that my specific Church (because I know that not all Church’s are like this) wanted me to change my WHOLE lifestyle JUST because the things I did (such as reading Harry Potter and playing Yu-Gi-Oh!) was going to buy me a one-way-ticket to Hell.
Finally when the Pastor told me to burn my things and be purified, I gave him a piece of my mind and was kindly asked never to come back to one of his sermons.

Around the same time that I left “Good Shepherd Baptist Church”, my Dad came out to me as an Atheist. He said that so many bad things had happened in his life that, if there were a God, then he would have been a little more caring for his people. He said that people could live life happily without religion…and for once, he had said something that actually inspired me. I wanted to be an individual and find my own Path, and, if I did not find one, I wanted to be happy knowing that my life could be good without religion as part of my life. So I went on a Journey!!!
To make a long-story-shorter (but still long), I had many friends of many different religions. I went to Church with a guy friend, and really liked the funny-and-friendly-atmosphere…but still found that the Christian community was not one for me. My Best Friend is a Mormon, and she gave me a book of Mormon so I could read. That also proved to be a no-go. I read about a bunch of other things as well…Alien-cults, Satanism, Buddhism, Modern-Mythology-Believers, and finally, I came back around to something I had not touched on in a long while: Wicca.

I had first investigated into Wicca when I was in Middle School. It was introduced to me by a friend that was a couple of years younger. She wasn’t HUGE into the The Craft, and naturally, kids like to exaggerate…so she made it sound like this dark and secret society of gothic misbehaving (lol). When I figured I might want to try it (back then) my male-friend told me that if I tried it then he would never speak to me again…so I dropped.
Then in high-school while I was still searching for my own Path (and on the verge of making my own religion just for the heck of it), I met a girl that I had a HUGE crush on. So not only was this my ‘coming-out’, but this girl was a Wiccan. She explained the religion as very free, very earth-oriented, very loving, and very friendly. I then began researching, found the basis of it to be similar to my personal beliefs (on how everything has a spirit, and there is The Divine which is not man nor female and because we cannot connect directly to The Divine, we have its male and female persona’s: The God and Goddess), and everything just kinda went from there.
I started buying books for beginners, started shopping for candles and supplies, bought incense, did a lot of things that kinda seem silly now. Because, while I agreed with the more God-oriented parts of wiccanry, and I believed in the more meditative and communicating with nature…um…the spells and rituals, and things you have to do on the Holidays, and etc. It was a bit much. And a lot of it seemed, really, really silly.

I mean, not only was I not allowed to discuss my personal beliefs at home (because my Mother did not agree with it, and hated it), but because I lived with her, it’s not like I could run around my yard naked, or cast circles in the house. There was a coven that was 45 minutes away from me, but I could not even join until I was 18, and by then, I still did not even have a car! My Mother nor Father was going to take me, and the religion itself was just too…happy…to bright for me.
Even when I started trying Nocturnal Wicca, I still ran into the same problem of not having the proper supplies, not being able to get the proper supplies, not being able to do the rituals due to certain restrictions, and it all just went downhill from there.
I did certain things…like trying to pray, trying to interpret my dreams, and trying to listen to the spirits of the earth through meditation. So it’s not like I just gave up. But over the years, even that little bit stopped happening…and I thought I had just given up on having a religion altogether. But then I found JEDI.
And we all know how the rest pans out from there.

2. How do you know when you are doing the right thing vs. the wrong thing? Do you base this on external laws (like the 10 commandments, or the laws of your country)? Do you listen to your conscience, even though it may go against the standard ‘rules’ of society?

—All people, I believe, listen to their conscience at one time or another. My conscience is what guides me at least 80% of the time. While naturally I am a good citizen of the United States, and therefore abide by my Country’s laws, there are the smaller things in life that are generally guided by my inner thoughts and feelings.
I will say it now…I am a chronic liar. Well, not in the way you would think. I use ‘white lies’ to stay out of drama. Like, for instance: A co-worker that I do not care for, told me she got into a car wreck, and told me not to mention it to anyone else at work because they would make fun of her. So when my friend asked me what was wrong with that girl’s car (because he had seen her drive up to work in her boyfriend’s vehicle), I told him that I did not know because this girl and I barely ever speak.
So I lied…but I lied because I did not want to say what had happened, because not only would that go against the promise I made the other girl, but then I would have to listen to that other girl gab on-and-on because sure enough, she would get made fun of. Lying helps me avoid drama…because I don’t like that girl mentioned above, she is really annoying and has no idea about what real life is really like. That, and she really does not respect herself or her own body…so yeah. She gets on my nerves. But I deal with her, and ‘pretend’ to care about her problems because I don’t like making enemies.

So yeah…but…I also have a HUGE guilt complex. HUGE!!!
If I do something so much as take the last cookie without permission, I will go crawling to the person that made the cookies and beg for their forgiveness because I did an awful thing. It’s stupid…but it’s just how I am. That’s why Taz knows that she can trust me…because, if I did anything wrong, I could not keep it a secret from her.

But when I do something that I know I shouldn’t…my stomach starts to hurt, I get a migraine, and honestly, I just want to cry. I feel so depressed and sooooo sad when I do bad things. Sometimes the stress gets so great that I accidentally throw myself into a seizure. So, my body will let me know if the choice I made was the wrong one.

3. What are your beliefs about death? Do you believe we have one lifetime or more in physical form? What do you believe happens when you die? Where did these beliefs come from?

—Death is one of those complicated subjects that leaves you with worries, with fear, and with a massive headache because some things you just cannot really even begin to understand them or contemplate them.
I will say now that there are parts that I fear of Death, and parts that I do not fear. But when it comes to Death in general, I am not really sure what I believe.

In a sense, I believe in the Pagan religions that say that we are immortal souls that are reincarnated until we experience ALL things in life. Upon experiencing all things, we then return to the Source from where we came (The Divine and/or The Force). Therefore I do not imagine there to be a thing like Heaven or Hell.
If there is not a reincarnation after death, then I imagine death as just nothingness, as the state of nonexistence, and that’s what scares me and makes my head hurt. Because…what happens in nothing? Do you feel nothing happening? To have to cease thinking and being conscious is just too much of a concept for me.

But, if there IS a Heaven and a Hell, I have already accepted that by Christian standards, I will most likely go to Hell. That thought does not scare me, because as I have told other people, “Well, at least I will know everyone there!”

4. Do you believe in God of some kind? If so, what are the primary characteristics of this God? If not, why do you believe this?

—When it comes to ‘God’…I am still not sure what I believe. It’s just like with Death. It’s a concept that you just can’t begin to narrow down…not really.
I used to believe in the Divine Triad…there was the Omnipotent Source of all-things (which Wiccans called The Divine), but because that being was so powerful and so neutral, people could not connect with it, speak with it, therefore that omnipotent being then created a Male persona (The God) and the Female persona (The Goddess). In Christianity, this Triad would be God, his male persona: Jesus, and his female persona: The Virgin Mary.

That’s what I used to believe. I even used to pray to The God & Goddess many years ago.

But now I find that praying is hard, and while I do believe in the Source of our very existence, I do not think I would call it a God. I find that this Source is ever-present in ALL things, is all-knowing and openly shares its knowledge with all things willing to listen. I believe that the Source has power in working with fate and destiny…and I also believe that this Source has an anti-source because the Source knows not of negative emotions, but only of the positive ones such as love.

I believe that this Source also created all things for a reason. I just believe because it’s what my heart tells me is right after years, and years of religious study, college courses, and etc.

5. What do you consider spiritual practices? Which do you practice (if any)?

—Praying is a spiritual practice as it involves getting in touch with one’s God, therefore trying to reach out to not only their higher self, but also reaching up to a more powerful being for knowledge, guidance, and etc.
I no longer pray because I feel as though my words always came out very empty and were unheard.

I believe that meditation is a spiritual practice for that very same reason. Meditations delve into not only trying to reach out to one’s higher self, but also, a meditation focuses on a person in the present, removing their fears, doubts, worries, pains, and etc. through breathing and relaxing, and reaching out to communicate with The Source.
I practice meditation at least.

For my specific beliefs, my spiritual practices include meditation, exercising to keep my body healthy, practicing patience and love and clearing the negative emotions away from myself, better time-management and budgeting skills, and etc.
Basically anything that helps me become a better person and helps me live a better life is a spiritual practice to me.

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