I had never fully bought into the God thing. At least, not the “big man in the sky” imagery that was presented to me by the private Christian schools I attended in my youth.
I remember one particular moment, when I was about 7 or 8, that I was alone in the kitchen one afternoon drinking a cup of water. I was suddenly struck by a peculiar idea to push the cup over the edge of the table to see if God would stop me. I don’t know why my kid-brain thought this was such a terrible act, but I got nervous just thinking of what the ramifications could be. Surely God could read my thoughts and know my ill-intent, but would He stop me? Curious but scared to death, I checked to make sure no one was watching and started to edge the cup towards the floor very slowly. With each inch, I expected some invisible hand to slap mine away, but nothing happened, and eventually the water fell to the floor. A strange mixture of great relief and vast disappointment filled up my little body.
Fast forward to college. I’m 18, unsure of what electives to take, and decidedly agnostic. God didn’t fit into my life, and I didn’t fit into His. If you had asked me, I would have said that all I cared about was getting my degree. I didn’t know that there was something secretly inside me hungry for answers. My first philosophy class awakened that in me, however. I had never analysed the world around me in such a critical, almost scientific kind of way.
I quickly made philosophy my minor, and every subject within it was like a new turning point in my understanding of life. I went from claiming to be agnostic, to atheist, to existentialist. I was all over the place, but happy about it because each new step felt like growth. Still, a part of me was left unsatisfied. The majority of the philosophy subjects were of Western focus. They dealt with metaphysics, ethics, politics, and society–everything I would need to be a critical thinking citizen and perhaps, one day, a political leader. But it was hardly anything I could apply to my day-to-day life for when I was just human me, alone, and not another cog in the machinery of society. Who was I? And did I even matter?
Not that I regret one moment of it. In fact, I think everything aligned perfectly to set me up for where I am now. But it was my own thirst to continue learning about philosophy after graduation that led me to the discovery of Eastern philosophy and religions. I had heard of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism before, but never quite understood them. If you’re unaware, Eastern philosophies tend to focus more on our relationship with nature and the question of the divine spirit. Actually, there are a lot of similarities between Eastern and Western religions, but having lived in such a Western society, I was only getting one piece of the puzzle.
I won’t bore you with the particulars. The point is that I came to the understanding of how interconnected we all are and how deep the rabbit hole goes. Sure, society and the governing of society is important, but on a broader perspective we aren’t just one city, one state, or one country. Focusing on only one religion, one race, and one understanding, shortchanges us all. It leads us to war with each other and ban each other from our homes when we get the most benefits from coming together.
Spirituality is more than a belief; it’s a journey of understanding. It’s seeing the oneness of the human race, and its connection to the world around us. Are we God? Are we the love, compassion, mercy, and restraint that we’re all so desperately looking for? Maybe. Maybe it’s all baloney and maybe it’s not. But it’s a question definitely worth asking, and it’s an answer I will always be seeking.