Thursday, May 14, 2015
I was recently challenged to write an essay for the "This I Believe" project. I thought it would be simple yet it was more difficult to put into words than any research paper I have ever done. I have submitted it to their website for possible publication and who knows if it will actually be published, but I wanted to share this with all of you....
The School of Human Experience
I spend a lot of time thinking about everything, especially my own spirituality. For example, what does it mean to be spiritual? What does it mean to be religious? Is there really a “right” way to believe? What about a wrong way? I spend a lot of time reading books and looking for answers to the never ending thoughts in my head. I am a chronic over-thinker and with every new book or article I read, I have twice as many questions as I did before I started. There are many different religions of the world, but how can I understand the people practicing them by simply reading a book. I really can’t. I think I was secretly hoping some great spiritual teacher would come along like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda did for Luke Skywalker and show me the ways of the universe. I found many people that claimed to be “spiritual teachers” on my journey however they were completely stuck in their own ethnocentric worldview. I was constantly disappointed. I focused so much on finding the “right” teacher, that I nearly missed the most important teachers of all… The school of human experience. It is in our interaction with one another where the true journey begins. The one in which we learn and grow the most.
These past few months I ventured out of my comfort zone and opened up to others about my own spiritual journey, something that has always been difficult for me to do. I learned that my beliefs are more than just an idea, they are who I am as a person. I realize now I don’t have to have all of the answers and they will come when they are meant to. The more I learn about what my beliefs are the more I understand the beliefs of others. I now have a better understanding now of how an Atheist comes to the decision to believe that no God exists and that that Muslim women have some of the most beautiful souls. If more human beings would realize that there are far more things that unite us as human beings than there are to divide us, the world would be a far better place. When a room is full of people who share a common curiosity of a subject, it ceases to matter if you are an Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or any other faith, because everyone there is human first. My religious belief is a part of my identity no different than the label of being a mother or daughter. None of us could possibly know all of the answers, and I learned that that even the most devout religious or spiritual person will have moments of doubt. I believe that life is about the journey itself and that the destination changes with every new experience we have.