Like many others, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with all organized religions (I was brought up Roman Catholic), especially after my extensive research into all the major ones I had any interest in such as Buddhism. Each seemed like little more than organizations intended to control unsuspecting masses, with scriptures of each twisted and conformed by whoever happened to be in power at the time in order to maintain control and power at any cost.
To me, much to my surprise, the worst offender was Christianity (Like the Church of Scientology who also espouses hate as the basis of their religious system, and relies on their members never actually taking the time to do any of their own research into the validity of their own religion and religious histories).
Being brought up Catholic, I started my research into world religions, and naturally started with my own. What I thought would be a quest for spirituality quickly turned to a grim discovery of atrocities, countless murders, hate, violence, oppression, fraud, plagiarism, and a host of other events that I never imagined could be at the core of the only religion I knew growing up.
Before stepping onto any soapbox, the only “religion” I found that suited me in any capacity was Mysticism, and in Mysticism, there can be many varieites. But none of it was necessary to give my life meaning, and certainly didn’t answer the question I was most interested in which was simply: “Is there a god at all?” Sufism is a form of Mysticism movement based on direct connection to the Divine (whatever that may be for each of us), which teaches of personal control, power, and definition as to what any of it means for each of us, with an emphasis on love and loving. To me, it provides far more of a moral compass that Christianity and the God of the Bible could ever hope to provide.
But my true passion and belief system resides in the kind of Mysticism that the American Indians or the Mayans (see “Shamanism and the Mayans” for one example) guided their lives by. It’s the kind of belief system that puts the power and responsibility squarely in our own hands. It provides countless pathways to the Divine through deep meditation, often assisted or accompanied by teacher plants known as entheogens. Even Christianity has sacraments born not of the strange concept of eating the “flesh and blood” of their God, but by working with Teaching Plants brewed into a sacrament called Ayahuasca.
But back to the Sufis; my discussions of Shamanism, Mysticism, and Teaching plants is another topic entirely.
So, Rumi was the most famous Sufi; an ambassador to those who wished to learn about Sufism, and one of the books I would put near the top of my list of favorites (next to books like “Finding Darwin’s God”, “The Holographic Universe”, “Kafka on the Shore”, and “Dune”), would be the ‘Way of Passion’ by Andrew Harvey. The book opens with Rumi’s poem about his direct connection with his Beloved:
One breath from the lover would be enough to burn away the world
To scatter this insignificant universe like grains of sand.
The whole of the cosmos would become a sea,
And sacred terror rubble this sea to nothing.
No human beings would remain, and no creature:
A smoke would come from heaven: there would be no more man or angel:
Out of this smoke, flame would suddenly flash-out across heaven.
That second, the sky would split apart and neither space nor existence remain.
Anyway, back to Christianity for a minute: I couldn’t come to terms with all the hate that was rampant in my church; I was invited to anti-abortion rallies where participants held pictures of dead and decapitated bodies, I was encouraged to burn music and books labeled as “evil”, and I was told that those who didn’t believe in my religion were doomed to Hell, and needed to look elsewhere for my own sanity.
I also couldn’t come to terms with the vast violence of the Bible (See my “Be a Good Christian: Kill Your Children?” article for a detailed list of atrocities). I simply couldn’t understand how the God who we were supposed to love and worship, and the God who was supposed to love us in return, could do things like ask Abraham to kill his son to prove his love, or command such death and destruction to those who did not believe in him, including an entire world’s population in the story of Noah’s Flood (which sounds an awful lot like Gilgamesh; a flood story that existed LONG before Noah and his Ark), or an entire army in the parting of the Red Sea, or entire nations that angered him, and even the first-borns of His own people to ensure that there would be no chance of Him losing His “rightful” position as the one and only true God.
I mean really, why kill all the animals on Earth except for 2 of each; what did the animals ever do to God? And I have this burning question about what exactly those animals ate for 40 days and 40 nights, since a large number of them are carnovires…if there were only 2 gazelles, 2 zebras, etc., what would the 2 lions, the 2 tigers, the 2 leopards, and all the other meat-eaters eat on this ark, and what animals would be left to re-populate the Earth? – Maybe all the carnivores turned to vegetarianism for the duration of the flood…
Either way, look no further than the Inquisitions, the Crusades, the more recent Ku Klux Klan movements, racism, as well as wars waged in the name of God to see what a history of death and destruction that has been in the name of Jesus Christ. See ‘Crimes of Christianity‘ also available in PDF format on this website, or research on recent atrocities by Christianity in early America.
This doesn’t even take into account the very recent discovery of the Lost Tomb of Jesus; something that most Christians are ignoring, and doing their absolute best to debunk. Unfortunately, they are relying on misinformation, misdirection, and outright lies in the hopes that most people won’t take the time to do the research themselves, like many other organized religions have done throughout time.
But, once I stopped banging my head against the wall and took a step back, I decided to look to the reason why Christians cling so irrationally to their beliefs. It all became vividly clear and my “Clinging to Irrationality” sets forth a clear and irrefutable explanation of the irrationality. It can be summed up in a single word: Indoctrination.
Back to the question: “What Religion Do You Ascribe To?”:
Many people think I’d be a Buddhist, and although I think their peaceful way of living is a beautiful way to exist, Buddha believed that we are “temporal creations born to lives of sorrow and suffering”. I think we are temporal creations born to lives of whatever we choose for ourselves, whether it’s hate, love, joy, or anguish, or the infinite number of options we are given as humans. I deeply believe that we have the power to choose our own realities, and Buddhism is at odds with that. Two quick overviews of Buddhism and its beliefs can be found on this website and another on this website, and the strict set of rules, the need for suffering, eating once a day, giving up all my worldly posessions (despite the few I actually have); not for me, thanks.
I live by my one Golden Rule: Treat others as I would myself. Chrtistians often immediately jump on this as evidence of how I DO ascribe to Christianity no matter how much I claim I don’t, but unfortunately, that quote is not taken from Christianity; it’s taken from a Buddhist saying that existed LONG before Christianity stole that one. (Sorry again, Christians.)
Despite anyone’s religious affliction, I think the above is where most of us fail on multiple counts. Anyone who knows that many name brand clothes and sneakers are made in sweat shops in Taiwan, where workers are forced to put in 18 hour days, starting work at 13 years old, and working for less than $5.00/day, shouldn’t buy those clothes or sneakers, but most of us don’t think about it or don’t care. But that’s your business, and like my vegetarianism, it’s a choice I have made for myself, and as long as I’m not hurting anyone else, no one has the right to butt into my life and my world unless I’ve specifically invited them.
So, what religion do I ascribe to? My own.If I had to choose something, it would definitely be Zen Buddhism, which I describe in detail on MyZen.org.
I take issue with at least one element of all organized religions, and have never really seen the purpose of them for the people who belong to them, other than giving them a way of feeling hope, or to feel that their lives have some meaning, or to have a moral code dictated to you. My life has plenty of meaning, and I can’t imagine anyone else possessing a greater ability to define my personal religion and connection with the Divine than myself.
What “Take refuge in Buddha” truly means is something I could now spend a lifetime describing. Most of my time is spent clarifying my own truth, and little else matters more.
I offer clear evidence as to why people cling to irrational beliefs in my “Clinging to Irrationality” article and in the Delusions of Religion section I offer much more explanation that may be of use by many who question the validity of Christianity as a belief system, who question morality of the God of the Bible, who wonder if the Christian loudmouths have managed to distort facts and even have many believing that this country was born on Christianity (Easily refuted in my “The USA: Hijacked by Christians” article), and need some factual data to help you arrive at a more informed and fact-based opinion.