I'm a spiritual person. I don't really ascribe, at least at this point in my life, to any organized religion. I've spent a lot of time studying different religions, and I think because of that, I tend to approach my spirituality buffet-style. I have a hard time pigeon-holing my beliefs into one neat and tidy package. A little Buddhism mixed in with some Christian teachings, a hint of paganism, followed by a sprinkle of the Taoist philosophies. I meditate, I like the idea of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths, and I try like mad to follow the Eightfold Path. I think some of the teachings of Christ were brilliant, particularly the Beatitudes. And I love that he hung out with the prostitutes. Paganism appeals to me because of its practicality--environmental issues--and also because I like the spiritual idea of the feminine earth giving us life and then supporting us through it while we do everything we can to take care of the earth. Taoism is just a beautiful concept of yin and yang, of time being cyclical and not linear, and of life flowing around you like water around rocks. Or something like that.
What is common among all of them, I think, are the core values of respect and compassion, free of judgement, for all living creatures...and then the idea of living, as honestly as you can, a life filled with deeds and actions reflecting those values. If there is suffering...do what you can to stop it. Love your neighbor, your dog, the fish in the pond, a blade of grass...you get the point. It seems to me that these are the very basic teachings that we all ought to try and hold ourselves accountable to. Whatever religious or spiritual path we choose to walk on, if we're sincere about it, we ought to recognize and celebrate the deep connections we all have as living beings who somehow ended up hanging out together on the same little planet at the same little period of time.
Which is why I get so incredibly frustrated with The Christian Right (ah, there I go, falling off the eightfold path again.) There's been more than one Rant on The Slant about them (see intimidate THIS or jerry: where ARE you?) Their concept of spirituality, of religious values, is just so damn foreign and confusing to me. Where's the compassion? Where's the respect? It's so...UNauthentic. And they continuously and with much bravado completely ignore the connections we all obviously have.
And now they're ba-aaack on the attack (this time with Everything Dyke)in the form of Mike Hein, whose panties are so twisted that he's turning blue in the face from lack of oxygen. In response to the recent Portland Immoral Dyke March, friends are getting nasty little emails from the Christian Civic League. And once again, I am seeing my face and my name and my life plastered all over their website, although I have to say it's getting so old that I barely blink when it happens now. It's just that this time around, they aren't even trying to disguise their hatred. They are demanding THIS and they are no longer going to tolerate THAT, and I'm just...over it.
Of course, I know it's the inevitable price we pay for being OUT, for celebrating who we are, and for daring to empower ourselves as women, as dykes, and as part of the larger community that for so long has been pushed around by people claiming to be doing the work of God.
I'll take my buffet-style religion, thank you very much. There are those who look at life as one big scary test filled with evil temptations and trials and tribulations that are clearly rigged by a God who it would seem wants to see us fail. That's their religion. And I welcome them to it...we have that freedom to choose what works for us. I say, have at it.
My choice? To try and follow a life of compassion, dignity, and integrity, and to not beat myself up too badly when I occasionally fall off that path. Most importantly, I want to look at life as one big beautiful buffet, and I'm going to try a little of this and a little of that and appreciate and savor every bite until it's over.
That's my religion.