Saturday, August 8, 2015

Finding Truth and Happiness Through our own Experiences, Not Religion

Does  religion have value?  I believe so, but it's hard to find truth, happiness, or God through religion.  That's a bold statement, I know. What's easy to find in a religion... is that religion's definition of who God is, its definition of happiness and its definition of truth.  It's hard to learn these things for yourself as long as you are listening to that religion's definitions, and not learning, questioning, and listening to your own discoveries.  The things that I have learned in my life, things that matter to my happiness, are things that I learned on my own.  Truths that I have learned, and things that bring me happiness, I learned through trial and error, and questioning.  We all do. 

I read a post the other day on reddit by an exChristian called, Quitting the church and Bible reading made me more loving. This person explained that the reason he began to analysis his religion was... "too many Christians I knew and ESPECIALLY those in ministry were impatient, sarcastic and very closed minded...Then I got to thinking why I was different from them.  I  mean, I believed in the same God and followed the same religion but the nicer and more loving I got, the angrier and more intolerant they got.  I then figured out two major differences between me and the Christians I knew.  1) I had stopped going to church.  2) I had stopped reading the Bible...It was amazing that simply stopping doing those two things created a wide chasm between me and the church going Bible readers.  They seemed to get more negative, more filled with pessimism and being judgmental and self righteous while I was being filled with a sense of wonder and longing to explore life."

So what did this person learn from his religion?  I don't know he didn't say, I'm sure he learned some good things, but the main things that he found to be true or that brought him joy, he discovered himself.  He gained a sense of wonder and a longing to explore life, and as he moved away from the confines and dictates of his religious dogma it allowed himself to see life as a place of exploration; he became less judgmental, nicer, and more loving.  Of course, this is only anecdotal, but it's a very common theme among people who leave their religion. 

This is not a push for people to leave their religion.  It's an acknowledgment of my belief that it's hard to learn for yourself through a manmade religion.  And trust me, anyone that's in a religion and thinks they have the truth, I have been there!  I know how strong those convictions are, and if it's serving you well, then stay there.  But if it is taking you away from any kind of relationship with family or friends, if it is separating you from others, making you believe that you have a better knowledge, understanding, or the truth regarding our existence here, it's probably not serving you well. If you are not discovering your own path, and truths, and are relying on your religion's definitions, it's probably not serving you well.

My nephew is a doctor.  He's an intelligent, kind, upstanding individual.  He was valedictorian of his high school, served a mission in Italy, attended BYU, and got married in the temple.  His life was on track for a complete Mormon success story.  Then something happened, he and his wife divorced before he got out of medical school.  Then after a year or so, he stopped attending church.  My sister-in-law was so distraught over this.  I thought, what a shame that because of our religion we worry about our children because they aren't going to church, or stopped believing the faith they were taught. Anyone on the outside of our religion, would look at this young doctor and say, wow, what a great person, that's all they would see.

These are biases that religion causes, and they can separate families.   I have two favorite books/movies that I have gained much insight from.  One is: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and the other is, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman.  Both of these authors have learned from their experiences in meaningful ways, and have shared that wisdom with us.  In other words, they have learned truth.  They have learned things through their experiences that lead them to joy and happiness.  Here's a few of my favorite quotes from Dan Millman:

..."everyone tells you what's good for you, they don't want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs."

"Everything you'll ever need to know is within you..."

"The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination."

"Life has three rules:  Paradox, Humor, and Change.
-Paradox: Life is a mystery; don't waste your time trying to figure it out.
-Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself.  It is a strength beyond all measure.
-Change: Know that nothing stays the same."

"Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization.  And when you wake up, everything changes..."

"A fool is 'happy' when his cravings are satisfied.  A warrior is happy without reason.  That's what makes happiness the ultimate discipline."

..."focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new."

"Never struggle with anyone or anything.  When you're pushed, pull; when you're pulled push."

And my favorite one of all:

"There are no Ordinary Moments"



5 comments:

  1. Deb, I think your feelings are in line with someone who was in a religion that had very strict rules and were not allowed to have your own opinions. I don't believe that any religion has all the answers or the ability to save anyone. I believe God has the answers. I believe that He sent His son Jesus, to die on a cross so we won't have to, if we accept His GIFT of salvation and His love. It is through our relationship with Him that we grow and learn. I'm sad for the man who had a bad experience with church and bible readers. My experiences have been the total opposite. The people I know who go to church and read the bible are striving to know more of God. Not because they are trying to earn His grace and salvation, but because they are responding to His great love. There is no greater freedom than resting in that love. It doesn't mean we are perfect and won't make mistakes, it just means we are forgiven. Not because we deserve it, but because we have a relationship with Him and He uses our mistakes to draw us closer to Him. His desire is for us to live lives full of joy and hope. He isn't an oppressor but a liberator. I think a life without God in it would be sad indeed. Just my opinion.

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    1. Debbie, first of all thanks for commenting on and reading my blog. And just let me say up front, I think you are a wonderful person. I believe you mean well in all that you do and have the best intentions, and are kind and generous with others. I have seen all of these things with my own eyes. And I do love you, I truly do! So as I explain myself, I hope to do so with kindness.

      ...where to begin? Let me first explain that I loved being a Mormon! I still am a Mormon. I loved growing up in the church. I loved the group of kids that I grew up with, and my biggest joy is that I met my loving husband in that group of kids. I loved the values that it instilled in me, the purposeful life that it gave me, and the love that I felt for Jesus Christ (and still do, by the way). I loved being Mormon and I loved the Mormon Church. The reason I became disaffected with it, is because it isn't true. Or at least that's the way it looks to me. And if there is one thing the Mormon church taught me, it is to love the truth, seek the truth, and hold fast to the truth. Was it hard to walk away from everything I loved? You bet! But I think for me, truth trumped everything. So it's with these same eyes that I saw the problems with my religion, that I am also able to see them with yours. And I know that you don't see them, and I respect that. I'm not even trying to get you to see them. Truth may not be the predominate thing for you, it just was for me. Faith, or belief in a certain thing or something else, may be predominate for you, I have no problem with that, I can respect that. I just simply do not believe in the need for salvation anymore, so the claims that you make, just don't resonate with me. That doesn't mean I don't believe in God, or love God, or love Christ, I do. I have a different view of things now, I have tried to explain them the best I can in my posts, and will continue to do so.

      All I can say is, the further you get away from religion, the brighter, clearer, more beautiful the world becomes. A greater love you feel for others, because you are no longer explaining to them the way things are, or what they need to believe. I know you can't believe that, because you have never experienced it, I would have never believed it either. Religious beliefs are strong, most people are never able to take an examining look at them, that's okay with me. There is value in religion, community and strong beliefs. God created this world knowing that we would believe different ways, and that we would all feel that our way was the correct way. I think realizing that I was wrong is one of the best gifts I got in this life, because of all the wonder things that come along with that realization: Compassion for others, a humility in not thinking you are right, an open mindedness, the absolute joy of being able to see things from another perspective, valuing other's opinions, dropping old biases, and the only way that a person can gain these attributes and perspectives is by letting go of strongly held beliefs. So that may be part of the design. I don't know, I just know that its part of the outcome.

      So let me again tell you how much I love you, and how much I have learned from you. I really hope for the best for you and your family, and your journey here. I hope it's filled with joy, peace, and growth. Could God want anything more than that for us? I hope that my life will be filled with the same, and that my interactions with others will help create that in their life.

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  2. Deb, I know talking about beliefs is tricky. By saying what I believe makes it appear that I'm saying if you don't believe the same way, then you are wrong. You know I grew up in the RLDS church, so I have had to leave a religion. I'm very thankful that God led me out of that church! With Joseph Smith as the prophet, we shared some of the same false beliefs that he perpetuated. In leaving that Religion, my relationship with the Lord grew by leaps and bounds. I am still learning to always lean on Him and seek His direction for my life. I truly believe that God lead you out of the Mormon church for a reason. Who better to witness to others in that church than someone who knows exactly what they are thinking? ( I know you don't want me to say that, but I think it's true!). You have always been very accepting of other beliefs and I never felt you were being judgemental. A lot of Mormons are!! I love you too! We used to have so much fun! I loved being with you and talking politics! (What do you think about Trump? 😁). We clicked from the minute we met. Remember the clogging class? Being new to town, you were indeed a blessing! ( As well as Rob and the kids!). The bible says that people judge by each other one way, but that God judges us by our heart. You have a beautiful heart, full of love! I'm thankful you are my friend!
    I love reading your blog, even if we don't agree on a lot of things! I hope you won't mind if I comment sometimes! Love you!

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    1. Yes Debbie, I remember the clogging class! Lol. What as so funny, was that I was so bad at it! Remember how serious Marsha was about it? I was so glad when you asked me if I really wanted to do it? Remember bunko and how they used to say, "the two Deb's never win anything?" And it was true we never did. And remember when we would introduce ourselves to some one and you would say, "my name is Debbie," and then I would say, "my name is Debbie" and then they would always ask if we were sisters? And I would laugh to myself and think yes, our parents were stupid, they only knew one girl's name...Debbie, so we both got it!

      I'm so glad that we met when we did, you are truly at gift. Oh, btw comment on my blog anytime. Love you!!!!

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  3. Yes! I couldn't have counted the number of times we were asked if we were sisters! Haha! Yep, our parents really liked that name! You know George Forman named all his sons George? And he had a lot of sons! Might get a bit confusing! Bunco was really fun, even if we didn't win!. I would love to know how those ladies are. Joanie moved to CA I think. The Sell girls used to babysit for Jaime years ago. They are probably out of college by now! Boy, it goes by fast! I can't believe I have a child in his thirties! I must be old :) I just got back from visiting my mom. She will be 86 this Oct. it's catching up with her. She doesn't get around very well these days. Remember working on Helen Chenowiths campaign and going to that fundraiser? I remember going to hear the Governor speak and meeting him and his wife, and I could have sworn I smelled alcohol on his breath. We were so amazed to have such essy access to our Govenor! Good old Idaho! Love you sister! ( Do I have to be the older one?)

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