A Heathen Talks Faith
Are You A Heathen, Too?
Heathen. How many of us are heathens? To me, that word always seemed more nefarious than it actually is. Turns out, according to a basic definition, a heathen is merely someone who does not belong to a widely held religion. Not so wicked after all, huh? Okay, so now that we’ve established that little tidbit, and if you’ve decided this applies to you, we can get on with the topic. First, we’ll briefly discuss philosophy, specifically, Buddhist philosophy.
Philosophy and Religion
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso was the answer to most, if not all of my Spiritual questions. In my quest for understanding and enlightenment, which was heavily laced with a dislike and disgust with organized religion (read my story, On Faith:An Awkward Journey for more) I stumbled upon a quote from him that spoke to my heart:
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples;
no need for complicated philosophy.
Our own brain, our own heart is our temple;
the philosophy is kindness.
“Yes!” I thought. This, this is IT. This is what resonates with me, this philosophy based on universal ideals like karma and continuity, love peace and compassion. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dalai Lama for introducing this philosophy to the modern everyday man & woman in such a thorough, yet simple way. I read several great books, like these: The Tibetan Book of Death and Dying Dalai Lama Buddhism for Beginners
Religion: Not A One Size Fits All
Now, organized religion most certainly is for some, I mean many people & that’s so great. Anything that builds you up and empowers you to do and be your best is AWESOME. It’s just that, for me, it seemed always to be so…elaborate. It didn’t feel right to me. Don’t get me wrong, a great church experience is and can be exalting, life changing and faith affirming. So far I have visited Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, and Baptist churches. The only ‘negative’ experience I had was at one particular church, where I was told by a parishioner that,
“There is but one God and Savior,
our Jesus Christ and you must renounce
all others as false prophets.”
He was very adamant in his belief that all other religious teachings were blasphemous and an affront to his God. Soooo, that was kind of intense… and not for me. Regardless, there are several types of church I’d like to visit (namely a Gospel church). Despite my profession of discomfort with religion, you may be surprised to find that I LOVE Joel Osteen. His messages are always joyful, hopeful, encouraging, and sprinkled with Bible verses and stories that I find fascinating. He’s figured out a way to bring religion in to people’s lives without making it daunting or overwhelming. He is religious and, yes, he speaks to my core beliefs. If you’d like to check out Joel, start with this video:
Release From Constraint
Once I released myself from the constraints of thinking about how I’m “supposed to believe,” to “I do believe, but in my own way”, everything began to fall into place. What I’ve discovered since then is this:
I am a woman of tremendous faith.
Through my faith in a Greater Power, I have learned to be as boundlessly grateful for
every obstacle, stumble and fall as I am for every gift and grace.
I can release myself from the burdens of fear and worry with conscious and daily effort.
I am, in fact, surrounded, guided, and protected by light.
It is my calling to spread love and light through my work.
Adopting a consistent ‘attitude of gratitude’ has changed my life in profound ways.
What’s The Pitch?
There’s no sales pitch here, no exclusive offer, gimmick, or great secret. Just my truth, my personal recipe for my life. I not saying my life is perfect; plenty of things have ‘gone wrong’ but I choose to find and focus on everything that’s good. I look for silver linings and brighter sides in every situation that comes our way. I do indeed worry, most particularly about my loved ones. We all do. But I work on keeping perspective, balance, and gratitude at the forefront of everything. In short, I have faith in something greater than self, and while I’m no puppet on strings, I am gently guided in the right direction if I choose to pay attention. This heathen is paying attention.
About Modern Melly, aka Melanie Cherniack: Melanie a a published author to nine children’s books, as well as two novels, all available through her website modernmelly.com/shop. Melanie is also the founder and designer of the #goodhuman brand, selling empowering, uplifting and inspiring merchandise which benefits numerous charities. Visit igoodhuman.com for more. She is available for book signing events as well as speaking engagements. To book an event email Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Melly on Facebook HERE and on Twitter HERE.