I was raised with an interesting combination of Catholicism, Lutheranism, and…other (which incorporated New Age-style spirituality such as karma, reincarnation, and even astrology). Yes–as Facebook would say, “it’s complicated”.
I never really accepted the Christian parts. Yes, I believe Jesus was cool, his “love one another” message is awesome and he wasn’t pretentious enough to shun people from various walks of life. But that’s about where my Christianity ended. Looking around the world, I couldn’t see how the human race had encountered any savior, nor did we exactly deserve one.
At first, my family tried to push. They enrolled me in confirmation classes at a local Lutheran church. You can imagine how often I feigned general malaise that mysteriously surfaced every Wednesday night, only to just-as-mysteriously evaporate the next day (lol)
The more I felt pushed, the more I rebelled, eventually announcing a formal break-away from religion.
In the years that followed, I went on a scenic, twisty-windy journey through various philosophies, during which I tried (almost) anything on for size. I needed to find my place, my category, something that would fit me, speak to me, resonate with me from deep inside.
This topic became a special interest for a time, and my exploration of it was akin to a “stim” activity. I wandered through the deserts of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon, the Zen gardens of Buddhism, the vast riches of Hinduism, and the misty forests of Celtic Wicca. As I did so, it filled me with the same satisfaction, exhilaration, joy, and stress relief as many of my other “special”/primary interests (areas of focus) have.
I couldn’t decide on just one. So I bucked all tradition and cherry-picked the facets of each that resonated with me. And true to my systemizing form, I organized and interwove each “flavor” in my brain, adding respects for science and nature to the mix, finally distilling the potpourri down into a yummy brand of pantheism.
Pantheism is a blending of science and spirituality, religion with nature, the physical with the metaphysical. Beyond that, how you perceive it, what you do with it, how you practice it, how you meld it into your life…is entirely up to you.
I’ve chosen to incorporate the mindfulness, nonviolence, sobriety, simple living, and desire for psychological balance from Buddhism; the philosophy of the ages, the chakras, the healing system, some of the individual gods and goddesses, reincarnation, and other elements from Hinduism; the live-and-let-live philosophy, the cycles of the Sun through the seasons and the Moon through its phases, the astrological flair, the male-female energy balance, from Wicca/Paganism; and I’ve tossed a few miscellaneous Ancient Egyptian and Norse gods and goddesses in for good measure, like guardian spirits who hang out with me. One is a creative muse, another is a protector, etc.
I consider myself to be a Pagan pantheist first, and then the Buddhism, Hinduism, and Ancient Egyptian influences swirl calmly and peacefully around that backbone, drifting into its caves and crevices like an infinite mist, giving it extra color, vibrancy, flair, and flavor. It’s highly enriching to me.
This suits me (and my Aspie-ness) well. It appeals to the dogma-free me by not interjecting any corruptive doctrine. I’m free to be myself. I don’t have to force myself to accept aspects of doctrine or dogma that don’t make sense to me, whether that sense is logical or intuitive. I don’t have to interact with anyone or seek approval, initiation, or acceptance just to practice my beliefs. My spiritual practice does not hinge on the existence of a building or congregation, or the availability–and attendance–of a location near me. There are no requirements or limitations. It’s incredibly inclusive; anyone can simply believe and thus, belong.
Seeing the inherent cosmic energy in all things, perceiving the interconnectedness between and among the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown, seeing the divinity in all beings, and seeing things as alive in their own way is incredibly calming to me.
It melts away my stress and anxiety. It promotes gentleness toward all beings and all things.
Walking outside, I feel the energetic currents and imagine the molecular vibration all at the same time. That is a spiritual experience. Even studying science is actually a spiritual experience for me as well (which may appear to be a contradictory statement; science and religion are generally considered oppositional to each other. Except in my mind, that is. I don’t view the two as contradictory at all. The way I see at it, the closer to the truth science and religion each get, the more they end up saying the same thing).
How perfectly this approach, this philosophy, fits me, as snug as hand-in-glove, is in itself a miracle. This is comforting to me, as I’m not waiting and longing for an external miracle to occur. I’m not waiting for anyone to reveal himself/herself as a savior of sorts. I’m not trying to cram myself into someone else’s mould in desperate hope that I’ll be named one of the chosen ones.
I’m free to be me, to be who I am, without shame and, as long as I live a decent life without racking up bad karma (cause and effect, the Golden Rule, etc), then I’m also free from negative consequence.
It’s often as liberating to me as finding out that I’m on the spectrum. It explains everything in a neat little package with a shiny little bow. I finally belong, I finally have a name for what it is that I believe, and I finally have a ring of websites I can visit and a community to interact with if I choose.
And it’s amazing. 🙂
(Image Credit: Robert Fury)