My opinion on the subject of spirituality and religion

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I am going off the cuff here with this blog.  It’s a topic I have never written about.  Nothing fitness related… just a topic I’ve wanted to write about for quite sometime.

These are just my opinions on the subject of spirituality and religion.  I DO NOT know all the answers. In reality, no one does.  I just think about this, like you… and create an understanding based on my life experiences.

First my background…

My last name Levine, originally derived from the Jewish faith.  My dad grew up in the Jewish religion.  We have family that still practices the faith.  My dad met my mom, who was (and still is), a very devout Catholic woman.  My dad left the Jewish faith and since has been baptized Catholic.  Talk about a unique situation!

I remember going to church as a young kid.  EVERY SUNDAY!  We never missed.  Mom put us in the front pew and we “had to pay attention.”  I grew up in the Catholic Church.  It was a big part of our lives.  We built foundational core values that are instilled in all of us (I have 2 brothers and a sister) to this day.  I went through First Communion, Catechism classes for 10 years, did Confirmation and was an alter boy for quite a few years.  My parents sang in the church as we grew up.  We were always involved.  It became life.  Church was something that became normal in my family.  Every Sunday, even if we rebelled, it didn’t matter, we still made it to 7:00 pm church.  Something I learned at a young age, was that church always made me feel better.  Even if I didn’t want to go to church, I always left in a better mood.

Fast forward to when I moved away to college….

During college, going to an actual church service was not a priority at that time of my life.  I was playing football, going to school, and having a good time. Let’s face it, I was 21 years old, and had other things on my mind other than going to church and working on my faith.

I never really made a return to the Catholic Church.  Nothing against the religion but it just didn’t feed my soul.  I also started searching within.  I wanted to find myself at a deeper level and stretch my spiritual limitations.  I didn’t feel the need to conform to one exact religious doctrine.

Over the past 10 years, I have read and studied a few great books that gave me a fresh perspective: The 4 Agreements, Beyond Religion, Conversations with God, and The Book of Joy.  All 4 of these books expanded my spiritual horizons.  I continue to open up these books to this day to either reread or read notes.  Not saying I have it all together, because that is definitely not the case, but these books taught me so much about spirituality and inner peace.

Here is an excerpt from “Beyond Religion”, written by the Dalai Lama:

All religions to some extent, ground the cultivation of inner values and ethical awareness in some kind of metaphysical understanding of the world and of life after death.  And just as the doctrine of divine judgment underlies ethical teachings in many theistic religions, so too does the doctrine of karma and future lives in non-theistic religions.”

Ultimately, the source of our problems lies at the level of the individual.  If people lack moral values and integrity, no system of laws and regulations will be adequate.  So long as people give priority to material intolerance, and greed, all the outward manifestations of neglect of inner values, will persist.

I believe there are many ways to find your deepest self, whether that’s through religious doctrine, following Jesus Christ, spiritual practice like meditation, personal development, deep and meaningful relationships, fitness and health, and so on.  I think it’s important to continually explore yourself and introspect.  I think we build core values and beliefs based on our personal experiences in life.  Instead of just agreeing with the norm or the specific doctrine we may be following.  We must do our own exploration and create our own unique approach.

I picked up running and doing triathlons in 2005.  In a way, I found what I was looking for in a spiritual manner. I went into fitness to improve my physique.  Through the years of entrenchment and commitment, I’ve gained spiritual strength from it all.  Being able to push myself physically, mentally and spiritually and connecting with a community of positive people fit into my core values and beliefs.  And exactly what I needed.  Running helps me introspect.  Running pushes my boundaries, physically and mentally.  Running is meditation and medicine for me.  Running gets me to look inside of myself.  Running gets me talking to God.

I lean towards an agnostic-theist point of view.  I personally believe in God as the highest power but I am open to the idea of other concepts.  For me, this approach keeps me empathetic regarding various opinions and beliefs that other people will express.  I have no issues with going to various church services or when others express their views and beliefs.  In fact, I am very intrigued with the amount of unique views we have on this topic.

Recently, in a Facebook post, I asked people to share their “religious/spiritual” views.

Here are a few of the comments:

  • Christian reformed
  • Apostolic Pentecostal
  • “Born and raised a Johovah’s Witness, left when I was 45, have been a happy atheist now for 17 years.”
  • Catholic
  • Atheist/Realist/Pragmatist
  • Raised Christian but Agnostic now
  • “Religion is there to control the herd by the people in power.  No one can prove any of it.  Spirituality is for all people.”
  • Non-evangelical Christian
  • Progressive Christian/Hopeful Universalist/Recovering Calvinist
  • “The personal version of God looks different for everyone and is ever changing depending on where you are in your journey of life.”
  • “Raised Lutheran.  Very ecumenical (promoting unity within the Christian churches). Not wooden in any way.  I prefer contemplative practices.”

 

Ultimately, I believe in being a Good Person (GP) and helping people as much as possible.  If a specific religion hits your soul and helps you be your best self, then keep it up.  I don’t believe you have to go to church to know your God.  I think you have to work on it daily.  You have to do the personal growth daily.  It’s an arduous journey.  I believe there are many different routes towards your destiny.  I believe God looks different to everyone.  I believe God is in us all.  I believe God is this divine spiritual essence that is everywhere; always there for us to talk to.  I believe that our Universe is something so grand and wonderful.  I believe we should respect and Love our Universe and everything connected.  I think it’s important to have conversations with people that have contrasting views than you; gets you out of your comfort zone.  I also believe you should stick to your guns and be strong in your beliefs and views.  Don’t back down.  But also listen to other people and be empathetic to their life journey and their perceptions of it all.  In the end, we are in this together.

I would love to hear your views on this subject.  I will listen with an open mind and want to learn from you.

Let’s keep LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST!

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read.  I am grateful.

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