Since I left the church and a strict upbringing in the protestant faith at 17, I have been on an incredible journey of self-discovery; a conscious process of self-examination. I have learned true freedom, overcome insecurities, and have been introduced to the world of the liberated. After years of exploring countless ideologies and mythologies, urged by my peers, parents, and friends to believe what they fervently cling to as Truth, I ultimately - after much research, and after being introduced to Yoga philosophy (ancient teachings from the far east focused on the higher Self within all beings) - decided to simply believe in myself.
Religion, coming from the Latin root religio, means “bondage to the gods,” and that is precisely what it was to me: bondage.
Truth is not religion.
I have come to see my background in Christianity and Catholicism as, in the words of Alan Watts, “the institutionalization of guilt - as a virtue.” And I had grown weary of feeling guilty for being imperfect and normal - for being human.
“God always has a plan,” is a phrase repeated by the religious ad nauseam. For many of them, “God” is an image of a great-grandfather in the sky. I have compassion for these people. Who wouldn’t want the security of a being that takes care of anything and everything for you behind the scenes? We couldn’t handle all of this ourselves, we’re only human, we are told.
If we change the definition of the word "god" to the definition that has long since been established in the far east, it can be replaced with “The Universe,” “Everything that ever was, and ever will be,” “The unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world,” or “the Self.” Assuming the deepest, truest you is the Self, the consciousness - you without ego or labels - then you are God. “God always has a plan,” then takes on an entirely different meaning. The real you always knows, and has always known, what is right for you and what your destiny is.
I have heard this idea called “New Age" scoffed at by my Christian peers as being a fad. But I have observed that what is called “New Age” in the west (when pertaining to yoga and spirituality) is merely a reintroduction of the ancient principles from the east. There is within all of us an invincible fire. That which we in the west name “God” is merely a projection of the Self. Power is within, not without.
“Our job is not to change the world. Our job is to create change within ourselves that will inspire the world to change.”
I've renounced religion.
After having renounced all religion, and stopped attempting to find a label for myself, communication with my religious friends has been complicated, to say the least. Though it’s improved over time, many still believe my soul is in peril; I'm going through a crisis and I'm "going to hell." In reality, I have never felt closer to the Divine and to Jesus Christ (who, to me, is the greatest of the sons of men) and to the Christ Consciousness: unconditional love and unconditional positive self-regard.
I used to struggle with my religious peers, taking offense to the judgments and disagreements and attempts at converting me. But one day I realized I simply don’t care what others think about my beliefs or my experiences. Who has the time to waste worrying what other people think of you? One has no control over the thoughts of others. We must focus on what we can control. The journey I’ve been on has only brought good things to me and enriched my life; so I will continue to believe in myself - my Self - and continue this process of self-exploration to become the best person I can be. My goal is to become the greatest version of myself, and so far, believing in me has been a step in that direction.
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