Confusion, False Comfort, Then More Confusion

Religion was never forced upon me, nor taught upon me.  At the age of 12 i started going to christian groups, camps, e.c.t.  I loved it, it was an outstanding escape and comfort from my awful home life.  My parents hated each other, and my father hated me.  This was all obvious and out in the open, but we had to stick together since we didnt have the money to part ways.  I was pushed farther and farther into the bliss and comfort of Christianity.  My parents finally got the money to split, and after about 2 months my father put a shotshell in his mouth.  This was dec-26-2011.  The worst part was, i didnt care.  I didnt feel guilt, i didnt feel pain, nothing.  Again, i fell further into church activities, i was meeting people, things were great.  For the past year or so(im 15 at this point) ive been having doubts.  I dont know what do believe, what to do.  I understand the beliefs of Christianity are great, and if were guaranteed would be a wonderful way to live life, but it seems like it caused more problems than it helps.  Every time i tried to talk to a group or church leader about my doubts, they would simply stop me from speaking on the spot.  The concept of Christianity is somewhat too well put together, it teaches to have a belief and share it with closed minded people.  Yet if youre open-minded like the people youre supposed to be converting then youre seen as an awful person.  I do not believe this is all an accident, i believe were simply a species that in millions of years will be seen how we see fish now.  Living in birmingham alabama, isnt the best location for non-christians either.  Even though very few people at my age have the christian 'heart' they all at least act like they do.  Its seen as socially unacceptable to not be.  My friends are christian for the most part, and im yet to test how loyal as friends they really are.  Of course ill probably never know, in a rich school were emotions are hidden.  I'm simply lost and confused, and looking for advice.
IdontJudge IdontJudge
13-15
3 Responses May 10, 2012

In the New Testament it is taught, "Our Father who art in heaven" — God living in the heavens separated from men. We are living on earth and He is living in heaven. Further on we find the teaching that He is a God immanent in nature; He is not only God in heaven, but on earth too. He is the God in us. In the Hindu philosophy we find a stage of the same proximity of God to us. But we do not stop there. There is the non-dualistic stage, in which man realises that the God he has been worshipping is not only the Father in heaven, and on earth, but that "I and my Father are one." He realises in his soul that he is God Himself, only a lower ex<x>pression of Him. All that is real in me is He; all that is real in Him is I. The gulf between God and man is thus bridged. Thus we find how, by knowing God, we find the kingdom of heaven within us.<br />
<br />
In the first or dualistic stage, man knows he is a little personal soul, John, James, or Tom; and he says, "I will be John, James, or Tom to all eternity, and never anything else." As well might the murderer come along and say, "I will remain a murderer for ever." But as time goes on, Tom vanishes and goes back to the original pure Adam.<br />
<br />
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Can we see God? Of course not. Can we know God? Of course not. If God can be known, He will be God no longer. Knowledge is limitation. But I and my Father are one: I find the reality in my soul. These ideas are expressed in some religions, and in others only hinted. In some they were expatriated. Christ's teachings are now very little understood in this country. If you will excuse me, I will say that they have never been very well understood.<br />
<br />
The different stages of growth are absolutely necessary to the attainment of purity and perfection. The varying systems of religion are at bottom founded on the same ideas. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is within you. Again he says, "Our father who art in Heaven." How do you reconcile the two sayings? In this way: He was talking to the uneducated masses when he said the latter, the masses who were uneducated in religion. It was necessary to speak to them in their own language. The masses want concrete ideas, something the senses can grasp. A man may be the greatest philosopher in the world, but a child in religion. When a man has developed a high state of spirituality he can understand that the kingdom of heaven is within him. That is the real kingdom of the mind. Thus we see that the apparent contradictions and perplexities in every religion mark but different stages of growth. And as such we have no right to blame anyone for his religion. There are stages of growth in which forms and symbols are necessary; they are the language that the souls in that stage can understand.<br />
<br />
The next idea that I want to bring to you is that religion does not consist in doctrines or dogmas. It is not what you read, nor what dogmas you believe that is of importance, but what you realise. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," yea, in this life. And that is salvation. There are those who teach that this can be gained by the mumbling of words. But no great Master ever taught that external forms were necessary for salvation. The power of attaining it is within ourselves. We live and move in God. Creeds and sects have their parts to play, but they are for children, they last but temporarily. Books never make religions, but religions make books. We must not forget that. No book ever created God, but God inspired all the great books. And no book ever created a soul. We must never forget that. The end of all religions is the realising of God in the soul. That is the one universal religion. If there is one universal truth in all religions, I place it here — in realising God. Ideals and methods may differ, but that is the central point. There may be a thousand different radii, but they all converge to the one centre, and that is the realisation of God: something behind this world of sense, this world of eternal eating and drinking and talking nonsense, this world of false shadows and selfishness. There is that beyond all books, beyond all creeds, beyond the vanities of this world and it is the realisation of God within yourself. A man may believe in all the churches in the world, he may carry in his head all the sacred books ever written, he may baptise himself in all the rivers of the earth, still, if he has no perception of God, I would class him with the rankest atheist. And a man may have never entered a church or a mosque, nor performed any ceremony, but if he feels God within himself and is thereby lifted above the vanities of the world, that man is a holy man, a saint, call him what you will. As soon as a man stands up and says he is right or his church is right, and all others are wrong, he is himself all wrong. He does not know that upon the proof of all the others depends the proof of his own. Love and charity for the whole human race, that is the test of true religiousness. I do not mean the sentimental statement that all men are brothers, but that one must feel the oneness of human life. So far as they are not exclusive, I see that the sects and creeds are all mine; they are all grand. They are all helping men towards the real religion. I will add, it is good to be born in a church, but it is bad to die there. It is good to be born a child, but bad to remain a child. Churches, ceremonies, and symbols are good for children, but when the child is grown, he must burst the church or himself. We must not remain children for ever. It is like trying to fit one coat to all sizes and growths. I do not deprecate the existence of sects in the world. Would to God there were twenty millions more, for the more there are, there will be a greater field for selection. What I do ob<x>ject to is trying to fit one religion to every case. Though all religions are essentially the same, they must have the varieties of form produced by dissimilar circumstances among different nations. We must each have our own individual religion, individual so far as the externals of it go.<br />
<br />
Many years ago, I visited a great sage of our own country, a very holy man. We talked of our revealed book, the Vedas, of your Bible, of the Koran, and of revealed books in general. At the close of our talk, this good man asked me to go to the table and take up a book; it was a book which, among other things, contained a forecast of the rainfall during the year. The sage said, "Read that." And I read out the quantity of rain that was to fall. He said, "Now take the book and squeeze it." I did so and he said, "Why, my boy, not a drop of water comes out. Until the water comes out, it is all book, book. So until your religion makes you realise God, it is useless. He who only studies books for religion reminds one of the fable of the *** which carried a heavy load of sugar on its back, but did not know the sweetness of it."<br />
<br />
Shall we advise men to kneel down and cry, "O miserable sinners that we are!" No, rather let us remind them of their divine nature. I will tell you a story. A lioness in search of prey came upon a flock of sheep, and as she jumped at one of them, she gave birth to a cub and died on the spot. The young lion was brought up in the flock, ate grass, and bleated like a sheep, and it never knew that it was a lion. One day a lion came across the flock and was astonished to see in it a huge lion eating grass and bleating like a sheep. At his sight the flock fled and the lion-sheep with them. But the lion watched his opportunity and one day found the lion-sheep asleep. He woke him up and said, "You are a lion." The other said, "No," and began to bleat like a sheep. But the stranger lion took him to a lake and asked him to look in the water at his own image and see if it did not resemble him, the stranger lion. He looked and acknowledged that it did. Then the stranger lion began to roar and asked him to do the same. The lion-sheep tried his voice and was soon roaring as grandly as the other. And he was a sheep no longer.<br />
<br />
My friends, I would like to tell you all that you are mighty as lions.<br />
<br />
If the room is dark, do you go about beating your chest and crying, "It is dark, dark, dark!" No, the only way to get the light is to strike a light, and then the darkness goes. The only way to realise the light above you is to strike the spiritual light within you, and the darkness of sin and impurity will flee away. Think of your higher self, not of your lower.<br />
<br />
~ Swami Vivekananda

IDontJudge, I think your name says quite a bit about you. You will find your place and because you are a THINKING, caring human being it may take some extra work, but you'll find your place. People of faith can be open minded, and They can be nasty, mean hypocrites. It depends on the person. If the faith doesn't uplift the soul, the faith is misguided. And to be a good, caring, loving, strong person you don't have to follow someone else's ideas or theology. Peace~

Religion wasn't really pushed onto me either. My mother has been a Wiccan since she was 14, and she felt I should take my own path. My dad was Christian until he joined the Army and traveled the world. He saw other beliefs and started doubting his own. He's now more Agnostic; he believes there's a higher being, but he doesn't know what. I live in Alabama, so I know how you feel. Me not being pushed into a religion made me different, and it seems people down here don't like that, especially the hard-going Christians. Like you say, they just share it with the close-minded people like themselves, unless they're trying to convert you (which happens to me quite a bit). I'm open minded to every religion and I try to learn from everything so maybe one day I'll have a path I can stick to, but Christianity doesn't seem right to me. Having my openness to other religions and not being Christian makes me look bad to people around me, I'm seen as bad and I'm constantly told that I'm going to Hell. But I don't regret it. I think not being pushed into a religion has made me a bit better. I like being open to other stuff instead of being one of the close-minded church goers, or something else. I learn tons of new things. I've just recently fully announced around school that I'm not Christian and I don't want to be. Most of my friends were loyal, because they said that my religion doesn't change my character. Some, though, just separated themselves from me because, as you said, it's seen as socially unacceptable to not have the Christian heart. But I'm happy with my heart I've been trying to follow my life.<br />
Well, after sharing all this, I think you need to just follow your heart. If you're doubting your current beliefs, start looking at other things out there. I'd embrace those doubts. If none of those new things you find feel right to you, then maybe you're not meant to find anything.. I believe religion is something ba<x>sed on Heart, not mentally and not whether you grew into it. I find forcing a child into a religion growing up is basically the same thing as brainwashing, so count yourself lucky and free that you have been given the opportunity to try other things and find your true path.

What a great reply, I too live in the south and it can be challenging to be who you are. We all keep working on it and accepting new ideas and finding our way.

Thank you very much, and you are completely correct.