Most of my life I have been averse to the idea of being religious, partly because I was brought up in a family that was not religious and somewhat against religion, and also because of the examples of religion that I saw around me and the effect these groups had on people, communities and countries. For example, my mum comes from Belfast, a place that has been fought over by two religions for a very long time.
But from the word go I always had an interest in religion and even picked it as one of my options to study at GSCE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) level in Secondary school. I always found it fascinating, the ins and outs of these groups and how they worked, even though it was never something that actually appealed to me.
However, in saying all of this, I always knew there was something bigger than us that couldn’t be explained by current science. It was always clear that there was more to this life than what meets the eye and that there were forces at work for which I had no explanation at the time. I often compared this to “The Force” from Star Wars (I am a big Star Wars fan and watched it a lot when I was young) and later on also referred to this unseen ‘something’ as a universal energy.
When I was in my teens, as well as this sense of a greater force at play, I began to realise that coincidences weren’t coincidences at all. They started to become far too frequent and it felt to me more like everything happened for a reason. For example, those moments when you call someone up and they say they were just about to call you that very moment. Or bumping into someone that you hadn’t seen for ages, when not so long before you had been thinking about them for no apparent reason. These coincidences stopped surprising me and started to feel more like a small part of a bigger picture, although I wasn’t sure what that bigger picture was. It was clear to me that everything happened for a reason.
There were many aspects of certain religions that also made a lot of sense to me. For example, the first moment I learned about reincarnation, it felt like I had found part of the missing link. It made so much sense that we would live more than one life. One life would be pointless and I certainly never felt that my life was pointless. I may not have ever remembered past lives, but at times I certainly felt older than my actual age, and had feelings that I’d known someone for ages after only having met them a few hours previously.
So with all these various beliefs, knowings and feelings, when I got to my 20’s I started to refer to myself as being spiritual, because at the time it seemed like the only ‘category’ I could place myself in. I didn’t follow any religion but knew there was definitely more going on in the world than what I had learned at school.
To be completely honest, the word religion actually made me cringe, as the many examples of religions that I saw around me didn’t feel very religious! I couldn’t understand these organisations that had lots of different rules for everyone and that were almost always exclusive and misogynistic in some way. They just seemed to have so many contradictions, like having ‘love thy neighbour’ as one of the core beliefs, but starting a war with another country or group of people for whatever reason anyway.
Religion to me therefore equated power, money and some kind of separation from other people. It certainly never seemed to be all inclusive or about love.
However, that has all changed now. I can fully claim the fact that I am actually religious. Not because I got it wrong about ‘religion’ and decided to sign up to one, but because I had never heard the word ‘religion’ being used with its true intent and meaning.
That was until I heard Serge Benhayon talk about religion and The Way of The Livingness at a Universal Medicine retreat. At first I could feel myself cringe as usual when it was mentioned, but then, when I heard what religion meant to this man, it also made perfect sense to me as well.
A religion is not about an exclusive group of people who see others as different in some way, as it has the foundation of knowing that absolutely everyone in humanity is equal in their essence. There is never any judgement in true religion; nor are there rules or anyone telling you what to do. There is no one person above another and even God sees us as His absolute, equal Sons.
True Religion is not about imposing beliefs on others or trying to convert them, but there is an absolute respect for everyone and anyone, regardless of their age, race, job, gender, sexual orientation or belief system that they follow.
As well as the quality of the relationships I have with people I meet, I feel that being religious is also about my own personal relationship with myself, and with that, developing rhythms in life that are more self-loving and nurturing. Also it is about trying to bring awareness to how I am in what I am doing in every moment to the best of my ability, and taking responsibility for any reactions I have to the outside world, then seeking the cause of those reactions and letting them go.
Being religious is in the way I live and the relationships I have with all around me, knowing that this is forever unfolding and deepening as long as I allow it to. It is simply about being my true self, as much as I can, and knowing there is no perfection in that.
By Eleanor Cooper