Finding Your Spiritual Identity

I believe that all seekers search for their spiritual identity at some point or another. In hope it will offer them comfort and perhaps a measure of status in the spiritual community. Maybe you want to call yourself Buddhist or even Tibetan Buddhist. Wouldn't that make you stand out from the crowd?

Or how about taking on a spiritual name? If your teacher won't give you one, go ahead and make one up.

That's all ego.

I used to consider myself Buddhist, but not anymore. I still agree with all the essential Buddhist teachings, but I can't honestly say that religion fulfills any purpose in my life anymore.

So, how come this change from being a practicing Buddhist to saying no to religion all together?

Understanding Religion

First of all let's take a quick look at what religion really is. It's based on truth and wisdom that once were discovered by one or several gifted individuals. Then, culture was added to those truths, lots of culture, and there you have religion.

The added culture makes it easier for the average person to understand his or her religion. Which in turn offers hope, comfort and guidance.

Moreover, the very same religion appears very differently in let's say Ireland and West Africa.

Here are a few examples of cultural expressions:

- Religious ceremonies

- Religious rituals

- Religious practices

- Religious imagery

- Misinterpretations of the core teachings due to a lack of wisdom

It may take some time for the average seeker to see through these cultural veils. One reason being that we're naturally drawn to the colorful forms that religion can take.

You may even resist deep inside because it's quite disappointing, even painful, to realize the truth.

Now, these cultural expressions can cover up the wisdom to the extent where it completely gets lost.

Another reason I've distanced myself from religion are the negative experiences I've had in Buddhist monasteries. I've seen fist fights, corruption and drunk monks etc.

This alone may not be reason enough to part with religion, but it definitely has an affect on you and it's anything but inspiring.

It's also true that I've learned a lot and had many positive experiences from staying in Buddhist monasteries.

Likewise, it's important to recognize that the religions have preserved their wisdom teachings for centuries, to varying degrees.

Plain And Simple Spirituality

Spirituality on the other hand, focuses mainly on the wisdom, insights, truths and practices that most religions once were founded upon. Now, adding culture to that would only cover up the wisdom.

Spirituality is concerned with truth and reality while the world religions seem preoccupied with maintaining their hierarchical institutions that offer their followers a package of hope, comfort and guidance - in exchange for monetary contributions.

Instead of adding more culture to your spiritual practice, take an interest in cultivating awareness which leads to liberation...

So, what has taken the place of my Buddhist identity?

Today, I resonate with a plain and simple approach to spirituality. My practice is to give relaxed attention to the present moment.

Best of luck!

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