I remember around the age of 16/17 being asked by a friend at school whether or not I believed in God. I responded by saying that it would be crazy not to, but I did not believe in God in the way we are taught through the varying religions. So at one level I was saying yes to God but at another level I was denouncing all of the organised religions that I knew. I grew up having been to schools heavily influenced by the Catholic religion and whilst I liked some parts of the teachings, there were far too many discrepancies that I did not agree with and which did not make any sense to me.
This led me to the following conclusions about organised religion:
- I grew up thinking that religion was something outside of me, where I had to go to a church or a priest to have access. This meant sitting in a cold church on uncomfortable seats, listening to things that in the main did not make much sense to my life!
- It was something you had to go to on a regular basis. If you did not, you were seen as being bad.
- You had to renounce your sins and somehow they would be taken away at confession. This starts with the premise that you have sinned and are already bad. It also implies you can get away with anything so long as you confess it afterwards.
- That in order to be closer to God you needed to be a monk or a priest. This put God out of personal reach.
- You had Heaven, a state of nirvana or bliss to look forward to at the end of your life… if you lived a good life, otherwise you would end up in hell. This led to a feeling of always trying to do the right and best thing whilst not wanting to own up to or admit mistakes. It led me to try to be a perfect boy growing up – polite, attentive and not saying what I truly felt.
- You had to prove yourself in order to get to Heaven and that life needed to be hard and arduous. So I could not simply be myself, I was always trying to be someone else, someone better.
- That you would go to war over your religion. The sheer amount of bloodshed that has been caused over religion is inconceivable. We were told we are all equal, yet those who are not in the religion are perceived as sinners and will go to hell.
- Illness and disease are punishments from God. This takes away all responsibility for our own actions… leading to us blaming and resenting God and other people.
Now all of those can seem fairly obvious examples of what put me off religion but for me the most insidious one was actually being repulsed and turned off by the word religion itself, so much so that I would run a million miles away from it. When I came across The Way of The Livingness I found it very hard to accept the fact that it was about a religious way of life, and that I already am a deeply religious person. So whilst I struggled internally with this fact, although I knew it to be true, I began to feel how I had stopped fully claiming the relationship with myself, with God and with other people.
I have been almost ashamed or fearful of using the word religion because of its many connotations and so have shied away from using the word in my life. I have even shied away from really opening up about The Way of The Livingness to others, in case they may take it the wrong way. It is crazy in a world where we are led to believe in freedom of speech that I have stopped myself from speaking about the one thing that I hold very dear to my heart.
There are many tenets of The Way of The Livingness which cannot all be listed here, but here are some, which for me show the real and true sense of the word religion:
- Everything is within me, no one is greater or more special than I am.
- We are all the equal Sons of God and are born with a knowing of this fact.
- There is no building you can go to, to be closer to God.
- We are returning to the love we are and not going anywhere and so are able to live this love no matter what.
- Access to God or Heaven is not restricted – we simply have to make a choice to connect and live in a way that supports this choice.
- We are responsible for all of our choices and what happens to us.
- The doors are always open and no one is ever excluded or judged for their choices.
As I say the list can go on but more is not needed here – this quote says it all:
“Honouring the love you are in full and bringing that into full human life forms the basis of a new worldly religious way known as The Way of The Livingness.”
It has been a very freeing experience to no longer feel shackled by thoughts that say I am not religious. It is also very freeing to claim that everything I could ever want is already within me. This has taken off a lot of the strain and pressure of wanting and thinking that I need to get somewhere and then, only then, can I let go and be myself.
So yes, I can not only claim that I am religious, I can in fact state that I am deeply religious.
Do I shout this from the rooftops? No, for there is no need.
Do I need to convert people with my words? No, for they will see the way that I live.
Does it matter what anybody else thinks about me? No, for if I am living the love that I am then this is more than enough confirmation for me.
By James Nicholson BNat, Design Consultant, Frome, UK
We are Sons of God First
My True and False Experiences of God
Organised Religion versus True Religion
593 thoughts on “Am I Religious?”
For me too the word religion was so associated with all that is totally hypocritical, totally horrendous and more, so I struggled with ‘religion’, ‘I have been almost ashamed or fearful of using the word religion because of its many connotations and so have shied away from using the word in my life.’
Blessed indeed are those who choose The Way of The Livingness, as this religion is so simple and it feels True in our bodies.
I know that one .. growing up to believe that others know more than me and are more important than me. I went to Sunday school and was taught all the biblical stories, but nothing truly confirmed the love and wisdom I have and hold within, my own innate connection to divinity. The church and church hall felt empty and cold.
Crazy really that we go to these old cold buildings looking for connection and are not truly taught that the connection is within us and given tools to re-connect to this. From being a student of the The Way of the Livingness, I now have these tools and have been able to simply claim and confirm this innate connection within me, and also know that ‘Everything is within me, no one is greater or more special than I am.’
James, I loved how you have opened the discussion to consider the belief that runs many of us that ‘Illness and disease are punishments from God. This takes away all responsibility for our own actions… leading to us blaming and resenting God and other people’. Yours words are both wise and challenging for we are so used to going to doctors and expecting them to fix our ailments – but what would happen if we all allowed a deeper understanding of the root cause of illness and disease and actively committed to taking responsibility for our own healing process alongside and with the support of qualified healthcare workers.
I loved reading your experience of religion and couldn’t agree with you more about how religion is bastardised and in some respect keeps people where they are, in a cocoon oblivious to the harm it can keep them in.
A universal religion is one that sees God in everything, it isn’t just in one place or building, it isn’t outside, it is within. After all who really created us? If we strip away the skin colour, underneath every body irrespective of which country they live, are made up the same. Muscles, tissues, blood etc. There is nothing that says we are different we are all made from the same source. Now what is religious and religion got to do with that?
Oh wow, I can see how we can fight ourselves and what is simply natural for us, just because of what we think it is.
‘You had to prove yourself in order to get to Heaven and that life needed to be hard and arduous. So I could not simply be myself, I was always trying to be someone else, someone better.’ Growing up as a Catholic, I too had this feeling of not being worthy, not being enough and was always trying to be more.
The whole idea of heaven and hell is such a reward or punishment setup. It means you have to spend your life clocking up credits or living in fear of the consequences. Worse than this is being told we are born with sin or as sinners. So, you have to spend your life making up for not being good enough.
It is a whole disgusting regime Fiona, institutionalised religion, ‘You had to renounce your sins and somehow they would be taken away at confession. This starts with the premise that you have sinned and are already bad. It also implies you can get away with anything so long as you confess it afterwards.’
The quote from Serge Benhayon says it all for me too, as if I am living in a way that honours the wonderful, naturally loving being I am I can’t help but take that out into the world with me. And I don’t have to ‘shout it from the rooftops’, for the reflection of how I am living will be a mirror for others, to accept or refuse, that is their choice. The Way of the Livingness is the religion I always knew was there for us to live, it just took me a long time to find it again.
The Way of The Livingness has definitely presented another way of being with God and having a relationship with him. The first point you make ‘Everything is within me, no one is greater or more special than I am.’ is so important to crack. What I have realised is that it is accepting and knowing that I am just as equal to God himself.
The love is within us, no need to keep searching on the outside, ‘We are returning to the love we are and not going anywhere and so are able to live this love no matter what.’
“So I could not simply be myself, I was always trying to be someone else, someone better.” The Way of The Livingness is to live all the love that you are.
The Way of The Livingness also reminds us that we are all equal, ‘We are all the equal Sons of God and are born with a knowing of this fact.’
We all grow up with an image of what being religious is. They can range from attending a building (whatever it could be from a church, temple etc), or praying morning, noon and night. They could also be women and children on one side and the men on another. It could also be men and boys on one side and women and girls on another; or it could be we are all in one building sitting in cold hard seats or uncomfortably on the floor with knees crossed.
When I ponder on some of these images I grew up around they seem and are so separative.
The Way of The Livingness has no image, it just is, we are it, no pastor, no priest, no brahmin, no nothing – we are part of the whole and no one thing is left out.
‘So yes, I can not only claim that I am religious, I can in fact state that I am deeply religious.’ This is beautiful James, I never thought I would say I am a religious person, but The Way of the Livingness changed that for me as well as this is a true religion that is absolute and offers such a grand connection back to God, love, truth and brotherhood.
Yes I remember there was a time when I would say I was not religious but I was very spiritual. I began to question more deeply what it was to be spiritual – what exactly was the spirit and how did it differ from the soul etc and then I came across Serge Benhayon – great timing- a lot of what I had felt was confirmed and more there was for me we to ponder on. Every year I find there is more expansion and deepening in my understanding and in my lived way. The word religion I am easily able to claim now and not feel that it has to be linked to dogma in any way….it is not about believing in something or subscribing to something it is a way of Living…The Way of The Livingness.
If there is one thing that is sin-ister is the renouncing to the sins thing (confession). It gives someone the wrong impression that humans have the capacity to delete energetic records.
In answer to the title “Am I Religious? – unequivocally YES – in truth we all are – naturally and equally-so.
Blaming God for all your woes is to not take responsibility for the way you are living.
I was also bought up a Catholic and I have to say I always felt kind of ashamed to be one, and I never really knew why but now I guess it was because of all the things, (many you have listed here James) that just didn’t add up. I used to feel not right about putting priests on a pedestal and treated differently, as I could not feel they were any different, and in some cases they felt worse than the average Joe.
It is amazing that the catholic religion still exists, surely people have seen through all the lies and hypocrisy, ‘That you would go to war over your religion. The sheer amount of bloodshed that has been caused over religion is inconceivable. We were told we are all equal, yet those who are not in the religion are perceived as sinners and will go to hell.’
Yes, I recognise this too Richard- in the trying to be the ‘perfect girl’ – same same, but different gender.
“It is also very freeing to claim that everything I could ever want is already within me”.
All the constant, driven, seeking outside of myself to find the missing piece of whatever it was I was looking for, stopped when attending my first presentation by Serge Benhayon – the words he expressed were felt deeply inside my body as a vibration and resonance of truth.
‘Re-finding’ The Ageless Wisdom was like an instant knowing that we have found that missing part, that we no longer need to keep searching outside for that ‘missing part’, ‘Everything is within me, no one is greater or more special than I am.’
‘The doors are always open and no one is ever excluded or judged for their choices.’ Absolutely James, God never judges any of us, so there is no need to go to confession as he is all knowing in many ways, God is constantly around us, and if we choose we can build a relationship with God as his equal son.
There has been a lot of damage caused to humanity by this belief “That in order to be closer to God you needed to be a monk or a priest.”
“Do you believe in God?” The question assumes that it is not possible to know God or, at the very least, that the questioner doesn’t know God.
“Does it matter what anybody else thinks about me? No, for if I am living the love that I am then this is more than enough confirmation for me.” When we accept and appreciate who we truly are we have no need for confirmation from another.