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What is Religion . . . and where is Your Sacred Temple?
“The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon” —The Buddha
“The kingdom of heaven is within” —Jesus
Not long ago, I watched a NOVA documentary about a unique group of science divers who dive into blue holes. According to National Geographic, blue holes are submerged underwater caves and one of the most threatened habitats on earth. Scientists study the cave’s geological formations in an effort to understand climate change and extinct species. Because of the extreme depth (some exceeding 600 feet), they risk their lives in doing so.
What I found fascinating was a diver who commented about his love of blue holes, saying, “I go to my church underwater.” The breathtaking beauty, the mystery, the knowledge that he risks death, and the intense concentration required in each moment all make the dive a deeply spiritual experience for him. All conflicts and petty concerns vanish and he feels reborn. Here’s a link to the Blue Holes Project.
In another documentary, Happy, the producers interview people across the globe to explore what makes people happy. They discover that a sense of community, compassion, giving back, kindness, and gratitude are key to inner happiness, rather than an exaggerated and constant material consumption of things. Interestingly, one of the people interviewed explained that surfing—riding the exhilarating waves and being one with nature—was for him, not just happiness but also his religion. Like the scientists who explore blue holes, he found that living his passion in the moment is how he connects to the Universal Source of All.
What brings you that awe-inspiring universal connection to something greater than yourself? What makes you truly happy? What passion helps you feel most fully alive? Where do you find Spirit?
Doing what you love doesn’t require tangible worldly results that are only measured in numbers. It’s difficult to define or measure intangibles like compassion, joy, mindfulness, happiness, and love. But if you come alive, then that is enough.
As a famous Buddhist story goes, when the Buddha was asked if he is a god or is he merely a human, he replies, “I am awakened.”
In joy & gratitude,
Diana J. Ensign
My book, Traveling Spirit: Daily Tools for Your Life’s Journey, is available now on Amazon as an eBook, and in print (both hardback and paperback versions).
HA! My bliss place is the studio when I am dyeing fabric. There is my church. This is what I tell my students that they need to find. Thank you!
Thanks Stephanie … mine is writing (under a tree) : )
I like Marcus Borg’s definition of religion as in the past being concerned with getting to heaven and to many people now as experiencing the Kingdom of God. My sacred temple is the sky where I often see my thoughts reflected.
I agree Andy, experiencing and appreciating sacred moments (all around us, here and now) is to live a life of Spirit … “Life is a journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson is one of my favorites. If there was a Transcendentalist Church I think I would go there. Thoreau is good too–emphasizing a life of simplicity to counter the life of quiet desperation.
The Unitarian Universalist church claims Emerson as one of their own..but you’d have to read up on the history to see if that is accurate (I’m not sure). I bet you could find a UU minister who would love to chat with you about it! : )
The Unitarian Church was quite different back when Emerson was a minister–it was still Christian and still had members who believed in God. The Unitarian church I tried out for a while was All Souls and it made no mention of God or Christ, though I was told they had some members who were theist. I prefer the Methodists, even though there are a few of their beliefs that bother me, such as their view of homosexuals, but there are efforts by many in the church to change that.
Surely practicing compassion, giving back (a lot!), and gratitude would help any of become more
“awake.” Thanks for your thoughts…love to you…Charlie
Thanks Charlie..yes, “practice, practice, practice!” I think feeling connected (whether through meditation, prayer, experiences in nature, etc.) is what helps us with our practice. At least, it helps me! : )
If you are interested in what Unitarians believed circa 1819 see Unitarian Christianity by Channing which is on the internet
Finally got around to ordering your book. The first time I looked it did not say Kindle. Maybe there was just a delay between when you were told it was there and when it appeared. Anyway, it’s on there now. Will let you know how I like it.
Just finished your book and it is wonderful! I especially liked the section on optimism. Writing is prayer for me too. Learning you are part Indian made many things I had learned about you fall into place. Did you know Linda Levi who used to work with us is part Indian? If you connect with her, you may have many things in common. She is on Facebook. Many wishes for more success in your writing. Since you like Buddhism, you may like a blog by a Canadian friend of mine. It is rickmcdaniel.blogspot.ca/ He has also written a book entitled Zen Masters of China. The blog is about interviews he conducted at various Zen centers all over the U.S.
Forgot to mention–my daughter Kristina is part Indian too!
Thanks Andy–glad you like the book, Traveling Spirit!
My grandmother’s ancestry is of the Ojibway/Anishinabe (Chippewa) tribe. I was not raised with those teachings, but, as an adult, I have learned so much from American Indian ceremonies…and believe there is much to learn about reverence for Mother Earth and the sacred connection of all, one to another. And yes, I like the mindfulness of Buddhism as well! Thank you for the good wishes, and I will check out the Zen Buddhism blog.