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Losing our religion

You grew up in a religious family but as you became more independent, you started to question what you were told. Maybe it didn't add up - there were too many contradictions or demands to 'just have faith' that didn't sit well with reason. Perhaps you saw people of faith treating others in ways that were at odds with the teachings. Perhaps you didn't like who was excluded from compassion, respect, or freedom - perhaps women, perhaps those who don't fit the 'norm' in terms of sexual orientation, or those outside the religious community. Your religious group may even have allowed grave transgressions of dignity or human rights. You don't trust them to do the thinking any more.

 

This can leave a hole in the fabric of life. Religion might be tied up with family identity, tradition and belonging. Your family might feel that by rejecting religion, you're rejecting them. Indeed you might feel your sense of connection and belonging is threatened by listening to your own spirit.

 

Many religions would have us believe that spirituality and religion are the same thing. If we don't have religion, then we don't have spirituality. While they might like to have a monopoly on the human spirit, this is a delusion which becomes apparent to those who discard religion and find that they are no less 'spiritual' than they were before. In fact we sometimes feel our sense of spirituality more strongly when it's allowed to stand on its own two feet.

The word 'spirituality' can mean many things, but it usually involves a sense of connectedness with others and the world, a sense of awe at existence, and an orientation in life that's less self centred; less bound up with 'me', 'my', and 'mine'. It can also involve a concern with the ‘great matters of life and death’ – our very existence.

 

For those who leave a religion in which they were raised, participating in a community like Flourish can serve similar needs to those that religion did. While Flourish's roots are firmly based in Siddhartha Gotama's (the Buddha's) teachings, its orientation and foundational values are entirely secular (non-religious). There is no need for gods, prophets, devas, angels, demons or rebirth when integrating these teachings into modernity. The teachings are about the human condition, how to understand it, and how to stop making a mess of it. They are about living more fully, more joyfully and more peacefully, regardless of what life throws at us.

Life itself then, becomes the spiritual path, fully equipped with spiritual friends, a deep and wise body of insight about the human experience, and a rich suite of practical tools that are well integrated with modern psychology.