His own father had been raised in the Catholic faith and from very early on was expected to be the priest in the family, but at 17 this pressure turned him away from the Catholic religion and he ran away to sea. He later discovered Rationalism and when he became a father himself he brought his own children up, including my father, in this belief.
I never had really understood what Rationalism was all about, but my readings since have presented that it is a branch of philosophy where an idea is validated by logic rather than religious means such as revelations, meditation or emotions. A Rationalist is said to believe that all knowledge can be understood through a process of reasoning without any external sources, particularly without the need for a God. But the few times my father voiced that there was no God, it didn’t make sense to me as I could feel so clearly inside that there was. My confusion grew even stronger as my father was totally connected to nature and the Universe and their cycles; I felt he loved and honoured people for who they were, never judging anyone and treating everyone as an equal. To me the way he lived felt so aligned to God and in fact as I grew older I used to say that he was living how I felt a true Christian would live. But of course in my mind that clashed with what I came to understand were his beliefs… beliefs that I chose not to question.
Then on the other side, my mother was raised as a Swedish Lutheran; she spoke little about her religious beliefs and she appeared to only go to church when someone had died or for weddings. It took me a while to realise that she had put aside her beliefs and in part aligned herself with my father’s views, although he never forced them on anyone.
So this was the scene that was set for the early years of my life. As a young child I would have unexplained experiences that I would share with my mother; for example, that I knew that there was no real death but that we would ‘wake up’ again just like when we went to sleep, but she would instantly tell me that my father didn’t believe in that, and so I learned to hold back from sharing these inner knowings with him. I chose instead to defer to what I perceived to be his greater wisdom and began to align to his beliefs as my mother had done, shutting down all that I naturally knew and felt. He was such a wonderful and seemingly wise man, so it was obviously very easy to accept that he must be right and what I felt and experienced at times, must be wrong. So onto the pedestal he went and as a result, down went my trust in what I could feel and innately knew. Sadly I never had the conversation with him about religion that I now would dearly like to have, and I know that if he had known how I had shut myself down, he would have been horrified.
My father never pushed his beliefs onto others as he respected their views, so when I decided I wanted to attend Sunday School he did not try to convince me not to go, and off I went for my first ‘religious’ experience. So it was at about age 8 that I slowly began to garner some insight into what religion was about, but interestingly I can’t even remember what religion it was. A year later when I chose to start Bible studies something inside me woke up and I could feel so clearly that what was being presented to me did not feel true, and I left, never to return.
As the years rolled on by and I began to read about certain religions from Catholicism to Buddhism, I began to feel like I did in Bible studies – that there was little or no truth in what I was reading. But when I read about the teachers that these religions were named for, I felt something very different; that these men did bring truth to the world. So the question naturally arose; what happened to their teachings?
I came to the conclusion that they had been bastardised and used simply for power and control of the masses, and in doing so the truth presented by these wonderfully wise men was distorted for the purpose of keeping the people in separation; from themselves, from others, from the truth and from God, and not to bring them together in love, equality and brotherhood as had been presented as the way forward for mankind.
The stories of wars, atrocities and genocide in the name of religion continued to confuse and at times horrified me, and slowly I began to distance myself further and further from religion and God until the point when I could not say the words without squirming, at times avoiding saying them altogether. But when someone asked me what religion I followed I would say that I was an agnostic as claiming to be an atheist just didn’t sit right. It was like there was a part of me that was keeping my religious options open just in case.
And I am so pleased that I did because as a result of leaving that door open, the confusion that I lived with for nearly 60 years is now finally dissipating and my clarity about what religion truly is grows every day. This most welcome change to my understanding of religion has come about as a result of connecting with Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine 12 years ago. When I attended my first ever workshop with Serge, I felt with every part of me that I had finally found what I had been looking for all of my life and that I was finally returning home, even though at that stage I did not know where home was and what was waiting for me there. From the workshops and other presentations by this very wise man I began to reconnect to the real me, who I had buried under the mountain of the many ill ideals and beliefs I had chosen to take on, including my ones about religion.
The day Serge Benhayon first mentioned the word religion I began to squirm once again and all the old religious ideals and beliefs came pouring back in, and there was a voice yelling, “No, this can’t be a religion!” But even though there was a part of me that wanted to run, there was an even stronger part that was saying stop, here is the opportunity you have been waiting for, to finally understand what religion actually is, to get to know the God that you knew as a child and to make sense of a world that most of the time hasn’t made sense.
So stop I did and I began to listen to what Serge was presenting and with the common sense and truth that I knew he was offering, slowly the walls I had built began tumbling down, especially when he presented the true meaning of the word religion. When he shared that the word has its origins in the Latin words, ‘re-ligare’ and ‘re-ligio’, meaning to re-bind, to re-connect, I could feel that this is what I had felt at the first Universal Medicine workshop I attended; that I was re-connecting to something that I had always known but that I had buried for a very long time, probably for many lifetimes.
As Serge Benhayon continues to share this Ageless Wisdom with us I have come to realise that so much of what I had felt and had known was true; that Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha and the other wise messengers had offered humanity the truth; that their message was bastardised; that they did not ask for buildings to be erected in their name; that they did not want their teachings to be used for power and control and definitely not the reason to go to war; nor for God to be portrayed as a judgmental being totally removed from people’s lives, sitting on his throne in the sky.
They actually shared that it is in connection with our innermost, our inner heart, that we can feel and know God, wherever we are and whatever we are doing; it is in our livingness, and that in coming together to live this way in Brotherhood is a way we have known before and once chosen we will naturally live again. It is in the way we live in every moment as presented by The Way of The Livingness that we can build this connection to ourselves, and from this inner connection we can connect to others, to God, to nature and to the Universe. We are divine beings who are here to once again reclaim the true essence of love and remember that religion is in everything that we do and everything we express.
“If you understand what religion truly is, then everything is religion.”
I have come to know that my religion is the stars in the sky that shine down upon me in the dark of the night; it is in the delicate bud of a flower that gently opens to the warmth of the sun; it is in the voice that whispered to me that what was presented in that Bible Studies class wasn’t the truth and that in connection to myself I will naturally connect to God and come to know him again as I did as the innocent and beautiful Son of God that I was as a child, and that I always have been.
Published with permission of family.
By Ingrid Ward, West Auckland, New Zealand