It recently clicked with me why I never became very religious growing up.
I was raised in a half-Jewish, half-Catholic household. Celebrating both Hanukkah on my Dad's side and Christmas on my Mom's was the norm. Gathering with family on both sides to rejoice on the respective holidays was just what we did. In fact, I always considered myself fortunate - I got the best of both worlds.
But despite having the holidays from two religions take up a handful of days on my calendar each year, I never actually felt religious. The truth is, I never understood religion.
I attended Hebrew school fairly regularly and even had a Bar mitzvah. And while I didn't attend church, many friends and extended relatives did, so that wasn't a foreign concept to me.
However, the truth was, religion just never made sense to me. It never clicked. I never understood how people could speak to God as if he were a person up in the sky, or somewhere out there. And Jesus? I hadn't a clue of how people could "find him."
How could people find someone else inside themselves? What did that mean? I just couldn't understand.
Things all just seemed so heavily based on belief, but not any sensical type of belief. Just belief because someone else told me to believe it. While this didn't necessarily rub me the wrong way, it certainly didn't persuade me to become a believer.
If anything, it just made me not care about religious activities, because they seemed to focus on things that aren't here, versus fully appreciating what is here right now. A common question I had was, why should I care about a person or figure named God that lives in heaven, if I'm down here on Earth?
It only recently dawned on me why I never connected with religion. I realized that religion always pointed me away from the truth, whereas I was always longing for the truth.
I realized that prayer - that is, when people speak to God and refer to Him as a He - brings me farther away from the truth. Through my spiritual journey, I've learned that I don't speak words to find truth, for the act of speaking words implies that someone is there to listen. No one is listening to the sounds coming from my vocal cords. That is just too literal for me.
The way I connect with truth is by simply being - when I get in touch with who I really am at my core, underneath all of the energies of the heart, mind, and outside world. I'm the one in here, observing it all. I connect with my creator when I don't think, when I don't speak, when I don't believe.
Speaking, belief, prayer - all of these things bring me farther from the truth, because they bring me into my mind.
God is not somewhere else. God is not up there, over there, or around there. God is here. God is everywhere. God is everything. But God is certainly not human, or a mythical creature.
And that's what always screwed me up - the fact that I saw God in human form. This made it impossible for me to realize what God was.
Until I understood creation from a scientific perspective - that we emerged from stars dating back to the Big Bang - then I understood that God is the manifestation of creation on all its levels. It's the reason why everything is the way it is.
To speak to God like He's a person high above the clouds creates distance between us and Him. And that's why I never understood religion. Why should I believe in a mythical creature that is God? I shouldn't.
But I should believe in reality - because it's reality. It's all there is right here, right now. Therefore, I better get to know it.
Live with substance!
P.S. This was more of a reflection, a thought piece, rather than any advice or spiritual practice. But, I am curious if it changes your perception of God, or what you see as the divine being.
Perhaps we can shed barriers and find new common ground behind the veils of the many religions that seek to unite, but end up dividing our world today.