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Outside the Box

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, says, “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” How beautifully humble and empowering. An uncomplicated goal; to be love in action. But this is not the religion I was taught.

I was brought up in a fundamentalist Christian church in Texas. I was taught God is angry, vengeful and male. It was under a strict religious system I was continuously threatened with hell, unless I fit in by automatically accepting what I was taught to believe. By living according to their specific views I would go to heaven when I die. If I behaved in ways deemed contrary to those beliefs, I would go to hell.

Even as a young girl, I found attempting to accept such limited, disparaging ideas of religion and God caused me such anxiety, I lived in constant fear and confusion. How can such a fearful and negative experience ever have been God’s intent for our religions? Logically that makes no sense, merely because of how horrible judgment, blame and abuse of others in God’s name feels to our heart. And, how can God only be male when all life is birthed from female? Also, why would a loving God dictate we must all believe this, don’t believe that, even when those beliefs are contrary to our Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim friends? The answer I received was they were going to hell.

That is when I evaluated my religious experience as one of people desiring to neatly put the Divine into a box of their limited understanding. They wanted to control God and each other because once God was in the box they created, they felt entitled and righteously justified to force others to adopt the same beliefs they held or persecute them as non-believers. But, in my heart God, the loving original cosmic source, Divine parent and creator of all things is, LOVE – caring and affection always displayed as KIND action: peace, support, forgiveness, patience, honesty, forethought, responsibility, empathy, attentiveness, compassion, presence, respect, courtesy, and logical evaluation.

The infinite expansiveness of God cannot be boxed into one form or religion. Yet, today we continue to witness world-wide conflict because of the belief our religion is the one sanctioned by the Divine. We keep God in the box of a narrow perception. We justify ourselves as entitled to make one another wrong and ourselves right based on ancient religious text. We rationalize this practice as caring or having concern for one another’s salvation. And, to make certain we and others fall in line, we perpetuate the fear that to question what we are taught is blasphemous. This thinking is ego-driven, not love based.  You and I were born from the miracle of Divine love. We are souls, spiritual beings on great human adventures charged with ending conflict over God and religion. We are charged with bravely turning our focus from religions that divide to live as the Divine wants us to. To treat one another as God always wanted us to, following the only religion ever needed – that of kindness. Namaste (the divine in me honors the divine in you)