Dorbolo Philosophy 2/9/19
Exploring Religious and Spiritual Thoughts
Before getting into the religious thoughts of others, I first wanted to evaluate my own ideas of belief and what differences occur in religious thoughts vs. non-religious thoughts. Personally, I think the core of religious thought is an inherent faith that is not found in science. In order to partake in any religion, you must maintain a certain faith for those particular beliefs—almost like a gamble, if you will. I compare this to science, where taking a random assumption can only be verified through tests and hypotheses. No one will believe a scientist’s claim on something because of a gut-feeling; they must reasonably prove their beliefs. Religion, on the other hand, is all about faith and trusting in ideas that are beyond the reasoning of human thought. For example, take the classic points of Christianity—that Jesus and God exist. Though people may experience miracles or certain events that convince them of this existence, there is no actual, verifiable proof that Jesus is the son of God, or that God exists at all. But that is what defines Christianity as a religion. The whole point is to throw your lot in with something that may or may pan out, but hold on to that belief regardless. I believe that faith is truly what defines a religion and differs it from any other subject.
As for my own values on religion, it is inherently mixed with science in my case. I believe in the Harmony Theory and that science and theology should not be adversaries, but intimate partners. Being on one side or the other simply doesn’t suit my needs. It’s impossible to conceive the argument of Creationists and how the earth was created in six days, especially with all the evidence stating the contrary. But the same evidence that so many say proves a Godless universe is riddled with holes that makes me believe theology may not be so far-fetched after all. For example, talking about the Theory of Evolution, the most troubling thing is how, exactly, people developed to react to things they had never seen before. We can detect and react to anything in our universe, regardless of previous encounters. Of course, constant exposure leads to better reactions (hopefully), but even a child who has never before seen water knows how to swim. Where did this intuition come from? Science will say it’s evolution, while theology will say it’s God, but neither side can fully cement their theories.
Another thing that cements my theory is Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc^2. We can argue science deals with matter and the “factual” presence of things, while theology believes in an otherworldly energy many claim as a higher power; a “God”. But here is an equation stating that energy and matter are unequivocally linked together. Much like quantum physics claims that particles and waves are actually two sides of the same coin, maybe theology and science are the same way—both arguing for only one side that makes sense most of the time, but makes the most sense when combined together. After all, that is how light works. In some instances light is a particle, while in others light acts like a wave. Neither side is sufficient to explain the other phenomena, but when put together, suddenly things start making sense. This is not to say we have it figured out (we still don’t really know why light does what it does), but we can at least have a reasonable explanation. In this way I think science and theology are linked, and that we cannot truly have one without the other.
Finally, my last thoughts on religion are that I never quite understood why there must be so much conflict between different types. In all honesty, this is like different people arguing over whose apple pie is the best. Maybe some are truly better than others, but then again, it’s all subjective to the judge’s taste. And who among people could possibly be appointed to act as judge? In this same way, I do not understand how anyone could put one religion above another. Along that same vein, I believe that the basis of all religions are the same—do good to others. If a person is truly living by this basic moral in their religion, there should never be any conflict because accepting others as they are, including their beliefs, is a basic part of all wholehearted religions. However, people let pride, arrogance, etc., get in the way, leading to dissent. In my mind, if people did actually follow this fundamental rule of their religion, then people should be willing to accept differing religious views.
After defining my own views on religious thoughts, it was time to compare and contrast these ideas with someone else’s opinions. Since I was on the road during this time, I could not attend a communal gathering or celebration, but I was lucky enough to converse with someone on my team (who was traveling with me) who holds very differing views from my own. In her words, she practices “universal spirituality”, which revolves around various earth-based practices such as using gemstones or crystals for guidance and varying energies. In summary, here is what I learned through our conversation:
Universal Spirituality is largely based upon following your intuition, or your gut response to various life experiences. This intuition is often led through “angels”, or guiding voices which a person can call upon at any time in varying circumstances, such as helping in a situation, making a choice clear, or simply offering sympathy in a rough moment. This type of spirituality is focused on healing yourself and others, whether that be through meditation, crystals, communication, etc. There are many different ways to channel healing for people, but every healing is meant to guide people towards the language of the universe: love. As such, each of these tools can also be thought of as methods towards a positive mindset. Those who practice Universal Spirituality believe that everything happens for a reason, and therefore accept every moment in life as an event towards a greater good. Because of this, Universal Spirituality preaches a positive mental attitude towards life, since negative energy can turn a person away from this truth and inflate the Ego. Every person is born with an Ego, so it is neither good or bad, but simply a component of a person that can be negatively manipulated if not cultivated properly. These Spiritualists also believe that every person possesses their own unique identity, and so are destined to seek their own unique truth. Their goal is not to change anyone’s beliefs, but to guide people when they seek assistance on their path towards their personal enlightenment. Finally, Universal Spiritualists trust in the spiritual evolution—the idea that though the body may die, the spirit will always continue on, though it may be in a different form.
Throughout her entire description and when asking my questions, I tried to put my own views aside and listen objectively—and I learned a lot! Though the practices may vary, much of the beliefs are similar to mine, particularly through my lens of a Christian upbringing. I am not sure how much of Christianity I still believe in, but some ideas I still practice. For example, take the idea of leading through intuition from Universal Spirituality. I also believe that there are some things our souls just know, albeit I do not know where this intuition comes from. In Universal Spirituality, this intuition is often led through angels, while in Christianity, many people believe in guardian angels that protect them in their lives or help them through rough times. Personally, I do believe there are things that cannot be explained, including certain signs or various mysterious means of communication that lead you in a particular direction.
To draw on a personal experience, this is one of the ways I chose to attend college at OSU-Cascades. Even though I was planning on attending University of Utah (I even had a dorm room picked out), I visited Cascades one more time on Admitted Student Day just to rule out my last option. Going through that day and the next in Bend, I can only describe things as feeling right. There were many signs I found on campus that I didn’t find in Utah, and though there are many logistical reasons I ended up choosing Cascades, the biggest influence on my decision were these inexplainable signs I encountered leading me to Bend. In fact, looking back even further, I can find more minute signs that eventually led me to Cascades (like the fact that I even attended the college fair where I found out about it—who really even goes to those things, anyways?), where I am incredibly happy and thriving as a student. This is just one of the ways I found connecting strands between Universal Spiritualty, Christianity, and my own patchwork of religious views.
Another thing I want to touch on as a comparison is the idea of helping others and leading people towards the idea of love found in Universal Spirituality. Most people will call this notion cliché; however, this is in fact the basis of most religions, including Christianity. After all, one of the main themes throughout the Bible is the idea of love, whether it be from God, Jesus, others, etc. This also fits my core belief that other people just want to be understood. The underlying message in this idea is that to understand others, you must approach them with love and openness. Every person deserves the opportunity to be loved and accepted by others. Again, even though each religion may go about practicing traditions in a different way, many of the core ideas are the same, which is also what I discussed in my analysis and views on religious thought.
In conclusion, I thought it was fun and interesting to learn about a religion so different from what I believe and learned throughout my childhood. Even more interesting to me was the fact that it was not really so different from what I believe after all. Though I will likely not be consulting my angels or drawing energy from gemstones anytime soon, these practices are only variations of things I do daily. There are many times I consult my conscience or deceased friends, and I do draw energy from objects such as my favorite flannel or a good smelling lotion. I think the biggest thing I learned through this exercise is that people focus too much on the differences between concepts rather than their similarities. Overall, there are not many differences between the actions of my friend and I, and I believe the same thing applies to a lot of other religions, if not many other ideas in life in general.