Spirituality. 精神性について

In America, the Christian religion is very prevalent.  Growing up, I pledged allegiance to my nation...which is a (forced) act of patriotism, but within that I had to say the phrase "under God." (and we also had to listen to the national anthem, in which the lyrics glorify bombs and war but alas, this post will be about religion.) In court, you have to put your hand on a Bible and pledge that you will tell the truth "so help you God."

Growing up, I was never really "given" a religion. There were no specific rules or guidelines taught to me about what God we worship or which faith we "belong" to. My mother was Jewish, and my father Christian, much like Tommy Pickle's parents on the Rugrats. (Bottles, spoonfed purees, cribs and playpens and all!) Occasionally we would have a Seder for Passover or light a Menorah for Hanukkah when my grandfather was still alive and had his mental facilities, we celebrated Christmas but never in the Jesus way, in the commercialized Santa-Tree-Presents way. I never have been to a synogague in my life, but I did go to church with my paternal grandmother and with friends on more than a few occasions.

Knowing this, you might say I was lucky to have the freedom to form my own ideas and opinions regarding faith and higher beings. However, it was not so much "freedom" as simply a "lack of guidance".
In high school, I did try to seek out my own spirituality, and I was attracted to Paganism, Wicca, Druidism, and other nature-based religions. I was shamed and ridiculed by my FOO, and they even went as far as to prevent me from having friends that shared my interests. So I was forced to hide my faith, and by the time I went off to college, I was "non-religious" once again.

And then I went to Japan, where most families are non-religious. It is said that Japanese are born Shinto, get married Christian, and die Buddhists. Japanese often ask God for favors and say little prayers, but they are merely praying to their idea or vision of a God, not the Christian God.
In Japan, I went to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines regularly as both part of my studies and for fun. They are commonly popular sightseeing spots and it is customary to say a small prayer or buy an o-mamori, or good luck charm when you go. It is also customary to visit a local shrine within three days of the New Year to say a prayer.

Now I live in Hawaii, where Christianity is the most common faith. However, the second most common is Buddhism, and there are plenty of Jews, Pagans, Shintoists, and Tenri-kyo too. It's a fun mix, and everyone seems easy-going about their neighbor's different faiths or lack thereof.

Which makes me wonder why some people try to force their beliefs on others or stigmatize another person's beliefs. Why is one faith "crazy" or "misguided" compared to another? Don't they all practice some form of meditation, chanting, constructing of altars, lighting of candles, belief of an afterlife in which your loved ones are still with you in some form and not just "dead"?

I know what I believe.

I believe in the concept of a balance of energies and spirits in nature and the four elements.
I believe in the concept of a soul, and in reincarnation.
I believe in meditations and incantations as ways to connect with your faith.

At the present, I do not belong to one religion, and I am fine with that. I don't need to put a label on my faith to feel comfortable with it, and I wish more people would be more open to other peoples' spirituality, it would make the world a better place.







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