I’ve never been a religious person. I’m not really a “joiner” by nature, for one thing. I don’t even like exercise classes. I prefer to find my own path with things. I have absolutely no bad feelings to people who do believe a mainstream religion, as long as they don’t ever use it to hurt anyone or as a tool of discrimination. It just doesn’t work for me.
I think if you get to the core of any religion, they’re all basically good, with the focus on just being a good person. They’re also basically alike at the root of them all. However, some of them have been mucked up along the way with negatives that were added here and there for the benefit of people who wanted to control others, and those are the parts I can’t deal with. Any religion that has the slightest hint of misogyny will be dismissed immediately in my world, and that includes most of the major ones.
In my search, I have found two religions that I have embraced based on a lot of reading, thinking and comparing with my own intuition and the known universe. They are Wicca and Buddhism.
I like Buddhism because there is no ‘God’ that you are supposed to worship. The whole religion is about how life equals suffering, and the idea is to learn all the lessons you need to learn as a spiritual being. Nobody is expected to master it. We are all just expected to do our best. Nobody is going to Hell. We are all just trying again until we finish learning. This makes sense to me. We are human to learn and grow, not to be punished just for being what we naturally are.
The five basic rules of Buddhism (in case you don’t know)
- To avoid taking the life of beings. Most people agree that it’s not ok to kill other people, but this rule doesn’t apply to just humans. The idea is that all living beings have the right to their lives and should be respected. This makes sense. Civilized and enlightened people are compassionate toward animals.
- To avoid taking things not given. Obviously, don’t steal things, but to me, this extends also to things that are not material. Basically, don’t take anything that wasn’t meant for you. I think it applies to forcing people to do things for you that they don’t want to do, or taking credit when someone else deserves it. Exploring this in myself, I need to be mindful that I don’t use passive aggressive behavior to manipulate anyone into anything. That’s something that might happen unconsciously, if we don’t stay aware.
- To avoid sensual misconduct. A lot of people think this is only about sexual misconduct or excess, but it also extends to gluttony or any excess. As physical creatures, we each have our own issues with this. I feel like hoarding material things might fall here, too.
- To refrain from false speech. It seems like this only refers to lying, but it also extends to any speech that is harmful to others, like gossiping or slander, or just saying mean things to someone. This one is the hardest, I think, because sometimes my harsh speech is reacting or retaliating, and that is an impulse that is harder to control sometimes for me. Also, gossip happens at times. I’m going to try to keep that in check.
- To abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness. It seems they aren’t judging people for drinking or doing drugs because it is pleasurable, but only because it causes people to lose control and break the other 4 rules, which makes SO much more sense to me than ‘ don’t do anything fun because fun is not allowed’, which is what some of the other religions always seem like they’re saying to me.
These things are not rules that are there to make people unhappy or that one will be punished for breaking. They are guidelines to follow to further your path to enlightenment and happiness. That makes sense to me.
I like Wicca because it is based in nature, and the balance between masculine and feminine is fair. One is not better than the other, and both are needed for the world to work. There is some magic involved and deities (It is important to note that they are Gods AND Goddesses), which usually makes me skeptical, but if you take that as a metaphor for respecting and connecting with nature, it isn’t really that weird. Physics is just as weird, and nobody really understands that either, so I can take that part in stride.
THE Basics of Wicca:
Nature is Divine- respect everything, from plants to animals to elements. Um… care about the planet AND respect life. How could that not be right?
Karma/Afterlife– No sin, just consequences for your actions, and a cycle of life that happens until you get it right and are ready as a spiritual being to move on to whatever is next.
Personal responsibility – be responsible for your actions and accept the good or bad consequences that you bring to yourself. Totally logical.
Harm None– no harm should intentionally be done to another being.
Respect for others beliefs– Here we go! Each person must find their own spiritual path without coercion. Is there another religion that specifically states this? Because it is very important to me that this is part of my own belief system.
The main idea of both of these paths is to be aware and responsible for your actions, and to have compassion towards other living beings. The big dilemma for me personally is that while not enough concern for others will generate negative Karma, too much concern for others can be a hindrance and can also bring negativity. The challenge is to balance it. I used to always put everything other people wanted before my own needs. I wasn’t always doing it because I am a good person. I was doing it because I have been conditioned with the particular events of my own life that my needs are not important, and making other people happy is the only way to hold value. I found myself resenting it, and that makes for bad thoughts and actions, and generates bad Karma, which to me is just bad energy that builds up when you are failing at being a good person for whatever reason. It is logical that bad actions and thoughts bring a bad response.
So anyway.. I guess I’ve created my own label. I am a Buddhist Witch. I am going to do my best to follow the rules of being an enlightened person, aligned with nature and respectful of science. I’m going to try and fail and try again. I encourage everyone to craft their own path. If you have one already, good for you! If not, find something that makes sense to you,and that holds you accountable without making you feel like a bad person if you mess up. Good luck!