Let me start off by thanking all those that sent emails through my website with thoughts and comments regarding Part 1 in this two part series. They were all great. It just proves my point that there are many different perceptions in society. Let's get to it. In part 1 we discussed concepts, freedom of religion, as well as choices. Now for the fun part. The part I enjoy the most. The discussion. Some of these thoughts are my opinion, but also those that we all see and hear about in the real world, as well as adding some of the thoughts from those that emailed me. It's all based on reality and truth. What people actually do. We call it, "The Real World."
Is God someone or something you pray to just when you want or need something? Do you live your life by your beliefs? As for me, I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I believe in God and what that belief stands for. But what's the difference between being a religious person versus being a spiritual one? Being religious is believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion. Not just the rules you choose, all the rules. Being Spiritual in the sense of Modern spirituality, is centered on the "deepest values and meanings by which people live." It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being. Either are a way of life you choose. Are you a part time or full time believer? That's the biggest question to ask yourself. Do you live by your beliefs? Isn't that what really counts?
There you have it. I am a born and raised Catholic. However, I believe in God's laws, not the man made laws. An example of one might be; someone should not be excommunicated from any religion due to being divorced. I don't believe that any God would want any person to stay in a marriage under certain circumstances such as physical abuse. To have to obtain special dispensation from any religious organization is totally absurd. So if the Catholic religion grants you an annulment, does that mean you really were never married? It never existed? Does God forget that you were once married? Let's just get the eraser out and erase that part of your life away. Therefore, you can't say I'm religious because I do not live my life by all the teachings of Catholicism. However, being spiritual, I live my life by laws of God. This helps me to better myself by living by those beliefs. I believe in God's teachings, and try to follow that path. Will I stray, will you stray, of course we will. We are all human and subject to temptation and making mistakes. I think if most really looked at their beliefs, many would say they are spiritual. That does not mean any of us cannot go to the church of our choosing. However, with all that said, it should not rule your life, it should guide your life. That's where some don't make the distinction.
In part 1 we talked a bit about why things are taken from you. The concept that if God takes something from you, it's only to make room for something better, or God won't give you anything you can't handle. So which it is? I this true, or not? There is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on what you believe, which also speaks to how you process things in your own mind. Your perception. As an example. I pray everyday. Both my parents have passed, and I speak to them each day. Why, because I miss them dearly, and I believe in God. I believe my prayers are heard. I believe my parents can hear me. I don't expect all my prayers will be answered, but then, I don't pray for materialistic things, I pray for guidance. The guidance to help me make the proper choices. What I do with those choices is now up to me. I don't ask for God to fix things that are broken. Just the guidance to show me how. You won't hear me pray to God asking him to get me a job, or make me rich. God isn't Santa Claus and does not live with the Genie in the bottle. In a sense that's a two-sided sword. If you believe in God, you might think it all worked out because God gave it to you because you prayed for it, and believed in God. You might now say or think that GOD drives your life. That is one valid concept.
The other is, God has given us the tools we need from birth. He will not control how we use them. If so, how would we learn? Therefore, the other concept, the one I believe in, is God has given me the tools. When I pray, it's for his guidance, it's to give me the strength to be able to sort it all out and make the right choice based on his teachings. When it's all said and done, the decisions are mine. Not God's. I could put you in a car, drive you to two paths, tell you about each one, but the decision you make as to which one you will walk down is yours. In this writers opinion, that's the concept of GOD. This is a life long process. A process of learning that never ends. Is it really that important to even put a label on it? People either believe in God, have faith, or they don't. Does it matter that we must qualify it? If they have faith, they can choose how to practice that faith. We can beat this to death, but at the end of the day, that's the bottom line. Truth and reality at it's best.
What do people do when their prayers aren't answered? Many loss faith. THEY BLAME GOD. "God, why did you do this to me." God did nothing. You either didn't listen, get the message, not learned the lessons, and simply made a bad choice. You did that. Not God. Probably based on many factors, emotions being the largest. The human condition dictates that we are more reactive than pro-active. Now you pray for the guidance to repair it. There are many factors that determine whether what you pray for will come true. Most of those do not sit in God's hands, they sit inside your heart, your soul. The other factor is, you can't control others. Some people get pissed off at God, others say, it happened for a reason. Something better will come along. Others will say that wasn't what God had planned for you. But all these sayings have one common denominator. None of them are God's fault, so don't lose your faith. Be positive and look for what may be yet to come. Be open minded and not self serving. Things happen for a reason.
Some say by God's choice, others say coincidence. Like that person who is pissed off that the flight was overbooked and they couldn't get a seat. Later they find out the plane had an accident. The first thing they do is thank God they weren't on it. Coincidence, luck, fate, or God? You choose. My grandmother, as many others used to say. "It's written in the book. When it's your time, no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing, it will be your time." Do you believe that? I do. In my 30 years as a Paramedic, I have seen those that should have died, but yet they didn't. Everyone else in that car involved in an accident died, but yet one lived. Why? Yes, scientists could figure out the kinetics of energy that caused that person to live. It makes perfect sense. I believe it's deeper than that. Much deeper.
How about the concept of heaven and hell. Do they exist. First you should understand we are dealing with the human condition. The vast majority of people believe, or want to believe, there is something after the pass from this life. It helps to reduce the fear of death, and offers hope. We will never really know until that time comes, although if you have faith you will believe there is. It also helps them to justify why they are here to begin with. Scientists will differ because they deal in facts and logic. not beliefs. Let's use the universe for example. A scientist can tell you where and how each solar system we know of came to be. However, the one unanswered question will always be, how did it all initially start? It just didn't get there on it's own. An extension of the religious saying "The Mystery of faith." From the earliest days, man communicated by drawing symbols. Over time, certain things became symbolic. The way the human race evolved and their way of honoring or remembering events and communicating with one another. Drawings, hand signals, symbols. Something as simple as a picture is symbolic. Heaven and hell are also symbolic. Symbolic of good and evil. Not necessarily a place you take an elevator to when you die.
Most religions teach when you die you are judged for your sins on earth. This determines where your soul will go. The keyword here is "soul." When you are teaching children, we start with symbols. Something they can relate a word or an act to. Doesn't it make sense that religious teaching isn't any different. We symbolize heaven as something good. A peaceful place filled with joy. We symbolize hell as something bad. Not a peaceful place, not filled with joy. Energy doesn't die. Our bodies are energy. In my personal example I used in Part 1, was that energy, or really a person? Energy meaning a "soul". Again speculation. It all speaks to what you believe. Is the after life a form of a different dimension? Okay. let's not get to crazy now. But the facts are, it's what and how you believe. That why it's called faith. To have it, you just have to believe in something defined as anything that you can't see, feel or touch. Can you do that? Believe it or not, you do it everyday. When you leave work, what happens to the people you can't see, feel or touch? Do they disappear until tomorrow when they miraculously reappear?
In closing, faith and believing are very powerful tools. I don't need to know the specifics about why I believe. I just know that, and trust that I do. I also believe in the power of positive thinking. I think they do go hand in hand. There are still things I question, things we all will always question. Questioning does not mean you don't believe. It's fine to question things. We are after all human. That is what we do and how we learn. Just understand that some questions have no answers. That's why we call it faith.