Yesterday someone suggested that I write this post and I decided that I would tackle it today. As usual I write from my own experiences, my thoughts and reflections, as oppose to the writings and teachings of others. Try as I might, while I may agree with another persons writings or teachings, I do have my own opinions and I believe that they are valid and worth sharing. I am not looking for persons to agree with me, as a matter of fact I welcome a good opposition if one choose to and it makes sense, not everyone who choose to oppose an argument do so from a place of intellect or just a good clean argument, some do so just because, however if one chooses to argue a point, It may go into a debate which stimulates the mind almost in an orgasmic way, and also in a way which hopefully we all may learn from, as I am forever learning. It is a thirst which seems unquenchable to me, I thirst for knowledge, I do not know enough! I thought this to be a touchy subject, but I threw caution to the wind, which I seemingly love to do and went for it, so here goes!
I was born into Christianity, growing up I had no choice but to go to church. My mother and father never once went with us nor did I ever see them go on their own, but we were forced to go or else no Sunday dinner. I attended St Stevens Presbyterian church off Cross Roads in Kingston Jamaica. This was a solemn kind of church where no one shouted or got into the spirit , no unknown tongue were spoken or clapping for that matter. Here people spoke in low hushed tones and the children were told to shush ever so often, other than when we were outside playing London Bridge is falling down, or Old Mac, Donald had a farm, or there’s a brown girl in the ring after Sunday school, were we able to have fun on the grounds of the church.
Hell and damnation was my fear, as a child when I would hear the preachers preach this, although, again at this particular Church the pastor never broke a sweat, he was always cool and preached in a somber tone, I guess what I am trying not to say is Boring. My mother would speak of the rapture in fear, and that in turn would make us the children fearful, and it seemed as if most who believed or practiced Christianity had one fear after the other. The Church seemed to believe that it had to drive fear into the believers in order to keep them in line. As I grew up and began to take a curious look at life and at religion, which by the way I was most interested in, I realized that the World Bosses (Not Kartel), Presidents, movers and shakers, big money makers, had a way to run the world, to keep its citizens in check or in line and it was the same way the church performed. Rule the mass through fear! Brilliant! A parent has a child and is stern with that child does not have to hit the child to straighten him up, the parent just has to give a “Look”, and the child, through Fear, behaves.
Religion and Spirituality are interconnected, often times it is religion which leads one to Spirituality, as in the case with me, but while Religion binds, Spirituality frees you, it does not have the constraints of the Church, the Mosque, the Synagogue or other religious houses. With Spirituality you are not bound to any set of dogmas or doctrines. Spirituality comes from within, at times it may come with having the famous ‘Aha’ moment, when something awakens you to YOU, and all your possibilities, self realization. It maybe while your are speaking to someone, or a visit to a metaphysical book shop, or reading a book, or watching a documentary, getting consultation from a Spiritualist, or even a dream or vision. Then you begin to search for things you believe you ought to know but do not. For some people when enlightenment comes they embrace it, for others they fear disappointing their parents, partners, religious teachers et al, because once they become aware and have decided to Embrace their Spirituality, once they are fully awake, their is no turning back, which means moving away from what they have been brought up or taught to believe, It can be jarring admittedly. A promising youth decides to leave school and becomes a Rastaman, he begins to wear all white as it suggests peace to him, he cut off eating meat, becomes celibate and go to live up in the hills where he feels he is one with nature, he is called mad and his parents cry for him, not realizing that he has become fully awake and has decided to free himself from all that is expected of him and just be him!
People who awake are severely mis-understood. All that they have learned from the Bible, the Koran and the Torah is revealed to them as man made tales, or fictions to say the least. When this happened to me my spirit spoke to me and said “regardless of what is written in these books, lies, tales, metaphors or whatever, they still speak of and acknowledge the Creator, and it matters not what they call him, once he is mentioned or referred to in any text, there he is present for all to know, this is what has sustained these words and preaching in the minds of those asleep, fear not because they are still being fed!”
In other words, It matters not the route you take to find God, as long as you find him and acknowledge his existence. With Spirituality it is realized that the worship of God as is done within religion is not needed. I know, I know, but breathe as I explain. It is not necessary to worship Our creator in the manner of how it is done in the churches and other religions. All that is needed is that we KNOW, that God exists! When we pray it is acknowledgement of the creator and worship within itself. God has no human emotion attached to it, so it does not need our adoration or worship, only our acknowledgement, which we must, because we are indeed fragments of this great Creator, fragments of the All, and to denounce it, is to denounce ourselves. In Abrahamic religions the existence and nature of God is all important, while In the Buddhist and Hindu religion, God exists, but the importance of praise and worship is not is not placed upon its existence. When I realized this at first it frightened me because I was taught that to denounce God was blaspheme and that I would suffer in hell, with burning flames consuming me, and the Devil jooking (stabbing) me with pitch forks, just the thought alone was torture, plus mi skin saff and cannot tek licks much less juks from pitch forks, meaning my body could not take such torture. But (yes I can begin a sentence with but, this is a blog after all) when I took a closer examination of the teachings of Buddha and of the Hindus I realized that they did not denounce the existence of God. They acknowledged him but placed no importance on the worship of him because he, #1- is unknowable, 2- is within us as we are apart of him, 3- we have other things to learn while here on earth which would free us from our physical constraints and elevate us into becoming light beings therefore affording us the ability to evolve within the time and space continuum and as such we would be able to assist others who are shrouded in darkness, of these things we must remain focused. This is what I came away with when I studied these teachings and It made sense to me and so I sought more and found teachings like these:
The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the world’s ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
I began to delve deeper into the teaching of all things as it relates to Creation, Humans Beings, Deities, Nature, God, all things which I knew resonated with me and from within me. I Embraced my Spirituality and I was free. Hell existed no more and so the fear of this dreaded place flew away, the fear of Death flew right away along with it, the rapture, well that became all BS to me as well as all that I had learned and feared while growing up took a jolly leap from a very high mountain. However Jesus stayed with me, I placed no importance on whether he was real or not, I did not care about that, I still do not. The benevolence of the character was what appealed to me. The nature of this being, so kind and loving and caring made me fall in love with it as I believed that this should be the nature of all humans, all beings, this is impossible I know, but this Jesus character appealed to me, and so did Buddha when I found him and so did Krishna, and Mirtha, Indra and Orunmila. Yet I urged myself on, Opening up myself to learn more and I did and I am still learning.
Just before I came to America, I stopped going to church, I would tell my mother that I was going, but I would go to my friends house in stead. We would have youth fellowship on Wednesdays at the church which I would not attend, and for that I gave no excuse I just did not attend, after about a month two church brothers came looking for me at my home, aiming to bring me back, it worked, I went back, mainly because I had a secret crush on Chubby one of the two who came looking for me, the KC (Kingston College tie, was very capturing during those times, ah did like off Chubby bad and the feeling was mutual lol). Looking back I cannot find the reason why I stopped, it may have been that I wanted a break from going to church or these church meetings, keep in mind that I had no choice. In this I was born, and drummed into my head was that you never questioned the bible and you never walked away from the church. In this post, I refer the most to Christianity because that is the religion which I was born into, but as religions goes I speak on all.
With religion, the freedom to access your true self and connect it with nature is completely lost. It maybe suggested within its texts, as the character Jesus is always in nature, whether walking on water in a boat or praying in the mountains, (sound like Babalawo work to mi) but again it is open for interpretation. The bible wielding Pastors believe it is their job and duty to save souls, and missionaries have done more damage that Hitler did to the Jews in my opinion. Religion, other than imprisoning the mind, is suppose to preach peace and love, yet they all fight against each other. Muslims do not like Christians and Christians do not like Muslims and they all hate the Jews, and together they fire bun those who have stepped away from their theologies and frightening doctrines of hell and damnation, do I dare laugh? Where is the Love? Where Is the peace? Where is the Unity? Where? The Good book teaches it but the interpreters of the Book are something else, words cannot explain them. Who remembers this quote “Christians I like your Christ but I do not like you Christians” ! A blogger once emailed me and told me never to quote Mahatma Gandhi again because he was racist, and he may have very well been, but what he said here I totally agree with. My argument today is not to shadow anyone’s belief, but to look at these two subjects keenly and with open eyes and see which one I am most comfortably with. Of Religion and Spirituality, persons may say they are one in the same, and while I agree to some degree, I must say that of the latter serves the greater good of self and of man kind, where it allows one the freedom to explore all and everything spiritual and of the Universe and things which defies logic, it stretches the limitations of the human mind, allowing us to see beyond THE WORD as Christians call it, and not to conform just because. The former restricts, divide and imprison the mind. With religion I find there is no love, no peace no unity, it may preach such likes, but where in the world does it show it?, Even within its own there is a division, the Seven Day Adventist and Jehovah’s witnesses says their way is the best way and Catholicism rebukes them all and the Pope believes he is Christ incarnate while driving around in a bullet proofed vehicle, While Muslims continues to bomb the world and the Jews believes that THEY, are the chosen ones, while continuing to bomb and kill the Palestinians, could this be love as Bob Marley asks?, I think not.
Below is an Interesting article I found on the internet I share with you, please enjoy!
Tí ewé gbígbẹ bá bọ́ lára igi, ó ńkọ́ ewé tútù lọ́gbọ́n ni. /
A dry leaf that falls off a tree serves as a lesson to the fresh ones. Yoruba Proverb!
[Be perceptive; learn from the experiences of others]
All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love…Obara Meji!
It has become quite popular in recent years to distinguish between spirituality and religion
It’s true that there are valid distinctions between the two, but there are also a number of problematic distinctions which often and unnecessarily divide the two fields of thought.
One principal problem with attempts to separate religion from spirituality is that the former is saddled with everything negative while the latter is exalted with everything positive.
It is important to note the fact that many of the negative things which people attribute to religions are features of some forms of some religions (usually Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), but not of other religions (like Taoism or Buddhism).
Religion is spiritual and spirituality can also be considered religious. One tends to be more personal and private while the other tends to incorporate public rituals and organized doctrines.
The lines between one and the other may often not be clear or distinct depending on the interpretation.
Consider these definitions:
- Religion is an institution established by man for various reasons. Exert control, instill morality, stroke egos, or whatever it does. Organized, structured religions all but remove god from the equation. You confess your sins to a clergy member, go to elaborate churches to worship, told what to pray and when to pray it. All those factors remove you from god.
- Spirituality is born in a person and develops in the person. It may be kick started by a religion, or it may be kick started by a revelation. Spirituality extends to all facets of a person’s life. Spirituality is chosen while religion is often times forced. Being spiritual to me is more important and better than being religious.
- True spirituality is something that is found deep within oneself. It is your way of loving, accepting and relating to the world and people around you. It cannot be found in a church or by believing in a certain way.
Consider the following in favor of the spiritual path:
- There is not one religion, but hundreds
- There is only one type of spirituality
- Religion is for those who want to continue rituals and the formality
- Spirituality is for those who want to reach the Spiritual Ascent without dogmas
- Religion is for those who are asleep
- Spirituality is for those who are awake
- Religion is for those that require guidance from others
- Spirituality is for those that lend ears to their inner voice
- Religion has a dogmatic and unquestionable assembly of rules that need to be followed without question
- Spirituality invites you to reason it all, to question it all and to decide your actions and assume the consequences
- Religion threatens and terrifies
- Spirituality gives you inner peace
- Religion speaks of sin and of fault
- Spirituality encourages “living in the present” and not to feel remorse for which has already passed – Lift your spirit and learn from errors
- Religion represses humanity, and returns us to a false paradigm
- Spirituality transcends it all and makes you true to yourself
- Religion is instilled from childhood, like the soup you do not you want to take
- Spirituality is the food that you you seek, that satisfies you and is pleasant to the senses
- Religion is not God
- Spirituality is infinite consciousness and all that is – It is God
- Religion invents
- Spirituality discovers
- Religion does not investigate and does not question
- Spirituality questions everything
- Religion is based on humanity, an organization with rules
- Spirituality is DIVINE, WITHOUT rules
- Religion is cause for division
- Spirituality is cause for union
- Religion seeks you so that you create
- Spirituality causes you to seek
- Religion continues the teachings of a sacred book
- Spirituality seeks the sacredness in all the books
- Religion is fed fear
- Spirituality is fed confidence
- Religion lives you in your thoughts
- Spirituality lives in your conscience
- Religion is in charge of the “to do”
- Spirituality is in charge of the “to BE”
- Religion is a dialectic
- Spirituality is logic
- Religion feeds the ego
- Spirituality makes you transcend
- Religion makes you renounce yourself to the world
- Spirituality makes you live with God, not to renounce him
- Religion is adoration
- Spirituality is meditation
- Religion is to continue adapting to the psychology of a template
- Spirituality is individuality.
- Religion dreams of glory and paradise
- Spirituality makes you live it here and now
- Religion lives in the past and in the future
- Spirituality lives in the present, in the here and now
- Religion lives in the confinement of your memory
- Spirituality is LIBERTY in AWARENESS.
- Religion believes in the eternal life
- Spirituality makes you conscious of all that is
- Religion gives you promises for the after-life
- Spirituality gives you the light to find God in your inner self, in this life, in the present, in the here and the now…
May peace, happiness and universal love continue growing in your heart.
You are All That Is.
Obara Meji is a spiritualist, Ifa-Orisa practitioner, and teacher of metaphysics. Since 2011 she has used her online platform to share her personal experiences to those seeking answers about spirituality. Her teachings will expand into short stories, novels, and public speaking to continue her mission of bringing enlightenment to the world.