As we open to our feelings and refuse to suppress our emotions, we might notice the presence of more tears in our lives. Not just tears of sadness, but also tears of joy. Tears are a window into the soul, and they spill out of a heart that is open to love. Whether we experience a single tear or a stream of tears, the emotion behind the moisture is telling us we are in touch with our heart. This is being real, being in the moment, and being in touch with our spark of Divinity.
The time has come to put guilt in its place. In the past, many religious belief systems have used guilt and fear to corral their members. Any step outside the boundaries of the corral, and a quick reminder is given through the use of guilt that inside is safe but outside is not. If you do venture beyond the boundaries, you might be brought back, but often this comes with a price. Some religious systems have charged a fee to get back inside the gate. Others require a simple apology to the injured party and/or to The Divine.
It seems what those religious systems are doing is staking a claim to their flock. We have our corral, others have theirs. Don’t try to mess with our corral or our flock. But, it’s okay for us to mess with yours because we have the only true path.
Ridiculous. Guilt is the wrong motivation. Forgiveness and love is the proper motivation for religion and spirituality. Let’s set aside guilt and find ways to communicate and get things done without “guilting” someone simply because they don’t believe what we believe.
My shirt of many patterns—created from three different shirts—blends in a way that appeals to me, and I do not see any conflict among the patterns where one appears to be better than the other. When religions learn to blend together and to combine their strengths instead of focusing on their differences, peace will be achieved.
Forgiveness is so vital for our spiritual health that it seems we can’t stress this fact enough. Forgiving isn’t a contest, but if I had to set a standard for myself and for others it would be this: Let our forgiveness be immediate, complete, unconditional, and withheld from no one, including ourselves.
One way that we show love to others is by helping them. Most religions hold this concept as part of their belief system, although some of the more toxic religions seem to want to only help their members, and if someone is not a part of their “flock” then there is little need to show loving kindness. Perhaps the main reasons we are on this planet is to learn how to love, to help one another, and to get along.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give the world today is to take a nap. Rest is underrated. I often feel as if I scurry about like a busy ant rushing from one place to another without taking time for myself. How can I help another when I haven’t learned to care for myself? How can I listen to the needs of others when I don’t take time to discover my own needs? Whatever it is that entangles us and prevents us from honoring ourselves, let it go. Take a nap, rest, and come back to it later with a clearer, more open mind.
There are times when we become discouraged or disheartened. One of the best ways to retain these feelings is to ignore them and try to bury them. These moods usually play to our ego, our sense of lack, or the feeling of being inadequate. But if we acknowledge these moods and allow ourselves to feel them without giving them a whole lot of concern—because we know they will pass—then we are more than likely to get beyond them sooner than we have in the past.
If everyone takes control of their own spiritual path, going around believing what they want to believe, won’t chaos ensue? The threat of every individual becoming their own spiritual guide might get the attention of organized religion, because they might lose substantial gain and status, and so they might want to warn that there will be chaos, division, and strife. But, isn't that what organized religion has given the world at times? If we are created in the image of some Divine Being, then let us trust that our souls will find their home, if we will trust them.
Until we learn that success cannot be measured by financial gain, we will not learn what it is to be happy, and the positive difference we could make in the world might not come to be. We need income to sustain us, but we don’t have to let that income define who we are or what we do. Real living is made in kindness, love, forgiveness, and respect. Define success by how much you give, not by how much you get, and the giving we spoke of is not primarily money, but time, talents, and love.
I have come to believe that what I want and what the Universe wants are the same. You might ask, “Do you think the Universe wants you to win the lottery?” No, I don’t. That’s not actually one of my dreams. I have from time to time fantasized about winning and have even gone so far as to buy a ticket—only one for each jackpot I enter, though. If The Divine wants me to win the lottery, then I only need one ticket. So far that hasn’t happened, and I rarely participate anymore.
No, what I’m talking about are our deep-seated dreams. The dreams that we think about in the crises of life. The dreams that surface when we meditate, pray, and contemplate the greater purpose of our individual lives, our collective lives, and the world and its place in the universe. A fifteen-year-old child may think he wants a car and freedom. A wise parent gives him only what he can handle. And, as the child matures, his dreams and his parent’s dreams for him often come together. As parents we want our children to be happy, to succeed, and to make a difference in the world.
If we were to use a tree as an analogy for all the world religions, then the sap that runs through the tree would be the Spirit. the Great Mystery, God, or that which is greater than self. The world religions would be represented by the many branches of the tree with each branch having many different smaller branches (divisions). It would be senseless and silly for one branch to demand that another be removed because it is “wrong.” All branches are joined together, and together—not separately—they form the tree that has the potential for healing the planet, but not as long as they war with one another.
When the caterpillar-turned-butterfly is ready to leave the cocoon, it is the struggle of breaking free that gives it the strength to fly. Without the struggle the wings do not develop and the butterfly cannot become all that it’s meant to be. Sometimes it is the spiritual/religious trials that give us the strength to break free and fly. Let us not forget, we are meant to leave the past behind so that we may spread our wings and fly.
When the student is ready the teacher will appear. A closing we like to use in Religious Recovery ends by concluding that the only one we can change is ourselves. Instead of running around looking for students—people we can change—what we might want to do instead is change ourselves to the point that we no longer need to run around looking for students, because our light will shine so brightly that they will come to us.
Sometimes we receive what we expect to receive, be it love, joy, and happiness, or grief, heartache, and disappointment. When we expect the worst but get something good, we run the risk of misinterpreting the gift and still feel disappointment or dread because we know it won’t last. When we expect the best and receive something dreadful or depressing, we might misinterpret the experience and still feel excited about the possibilities that might arise out of the experience. I believe the latter decision will ultimately lead to a happier life.
Note: You might need to refresh your screen to see the current day's Inspiration.
Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.