How I Answer the "What's Your Religion?" Question
Are they ready for this answer?
A friend recently asked me my religious beliefs. This was my stream of consciousness in response:
I believe there is only one overriding God presence in this universe. I believe that all named gods are manifestations of this universal presence. Some cultures feel the need to anthropomorphize God into something that they can more easily identify with, hence we have Hindu culture with hundreds if not thousands of gods, each a different manifestation of this universal presence. Celtic, Greek, and Roman cultures (among others) had gods with certain realms of influence, again manifestations of one universal presence. When early man looked at nature and the unknowable stars and saw the indescribable wonder of it all, they felt that universal presence and they looked for ways to anthropomorphize it. They created oral histories that their children could understand, giving life to the sun, moon, and things in nature in ways that had meaning to them. These manifestations of a universal presence became spirits and gods. They gave meaning and purpose to the calendar and seasons. They helped instill moral values in their peoples and sparked an inquisitiveness in their people to look with new eyes and question the world and wonders around them. Over the eras, the creation stories, worldwide flood stories, and God stories were formed and across the world these stories are strikingly familiar to anyone willing to compare them.
I choose to recognize this “universal presence” and to “honor” it, but I do not “worship” it. I recognize it as a world changing power that is palpable and moldable. Like many, I can feel this presence, and I can attempt to, or request to, mold it (as many do through prayer). I have countless times in my life been blessed by my coworkings with this universal presence. I’ve never thought to ask for more than the minimum I need to get by, for I feel that asking for millions in lottery winnings is not in the best interests of my moral character. I don’t need the universal presence to make me understand that killing and lying and stealing is wrong. Society and my culture tell me that. I believe in having the minimum impact on the natural footprint of this world, while having the maximum footprint I can to be the changes I want to see in the world.
I used to think I wanted to do things to change the world. I now know that it’s more important to help mold the people I know, one person at a time. I see and love everyone around me for being the exact person they need to be at this point in their lives. If my interactions with them help them further along on their path then I’ve done a good for the universe. Some people call this a path to “enlightenment.” I don’t know if those are words I wish to use, but I try to see the world around me without the filters that man wishes us to use. I try to see everything for what it truly is, everyone for who they truly are. I see good (and bad) in everyone. I believe in a world where the good outweighs the bad, and we move forward toward a better tomorrow.
I believe that if I want something, righteously, without covet, for good reasons, and want it with enough will, desire, and concentration, that I and the universal presence can make real and true change in the world. I believe that my actions every second of the day, makes change in the world. I believe that there are an infinite number of choices I can make in reaction to the events presented to me every day. When I make a choice, suddenly all the other choices fall away from my timeline. My interactions with people are a conscious choice between each person and I to have our lives interact. We therefore continue this path of our enlightenment together for as long as we need this interaction to last. We each come away a better person for knowing another person better.
I’d like to believe that some people may reach a natural conclusion of these choices, understandings, and manifestations within their lifetimes and these gifted people can transcend this physical plane of existence. Is this what the person some know as Jesus did? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to have the exact answer to this for me to continue on my righteous path. I do think it’s necessary for me to continue on my path though, and if asked, to help others understand the process I’m going through. I’ve never felt a need to convert anyone to my beliefs, though there are many like-minded people such as me. Some people consider my beliefs to be Buddhist, others Pagan—their labels, not necessarily mine; regardless, I trace my beliefs back to tens of thousands of years before Christianity, to man's first spiritual awakenings.