I don’t know why, but recently I was thinking of the spiritual road I’ve taken over the past 15 years. It was while riding the subway into work on Sunday morning when something hit me. The sun was just starting to creep over the top the houses that lined the Allen Expressway as I was heading up to Lawrence West station. Snow was falling lightly making the sun’s light sparkle as the rays washed over my face flushing me with a warmth that the rest of my body couldn’t feel. It shone right through me and opened up a part of my soul that I had been neglecting for a while.
From a young age I was always exposed to some kind of spirituality. It was introduced to me through christianity and then as I got older I experienced it through other’s religions and then eventually through my own exploration. If there was one common thread that I was able to draw out from each teaching I received, it was that religion and spirituality can be two very different things.
The difference that I found is that spirituality is a natural occurring phenomenon whereas religion has to be introduced externally. I remember when I was a kid in sunday school and I would be told all the old bible stories and it would make me feel good about myself and what I believed in. It taught me morals and the basics on being a good human being. But as I got older I realized that the stories actually opened up something inside of me that was trying to connect. I eventually needed something more and it was after high-school that I started to explore the line between religion and spirituality.
I ended up trying to find something to fit into that actually felt natural and gave me that sense of peace that I had as a child. I explored the Wu Wei of Taoism where I felt that the action through inaction way of living made sense in what I was trying to experience. That eventually wasn’t enough and I was left still lacking. I started reading about Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and even about being an Atheist. It wasn’t until I went to school in the great white north that I came up with something much more substantial.
I took a year to go to a college in Sudbury where I was exposed to a native way of thinking that really made sense and tied all my past teachings together. There is a thread that connects us all and that thread is something that we can only reach once we’ve been truly enlightened and accept our place in this world. Life and death, nature and our environment, you and me – we’re all tied together and our actions, however miniscule they may seem can affect everything around us.
It’s actually not that difficult once you come to accept that the same cyclical nature is interwoven in each religion. Life and the spirit is more about just following a set of rules to get into heaven. It’s about what you can contribute to the world around you and how it will give back to you. Being connected to our surroundings is how we’re all able to fall in love or find our dream jobs. It’s the people and places that we touch that makes our lives complete and whole.
So whatever your faith or religion, I urge you to take a good look inside yourself and a good like inside your faith. Find the connecting pieces and find a way to apply them in how you live your life. That’s true religion. It took me different faiths and a whole lot of trial and error but I can finally say that I’ve found my center and even through I may not call him God, Allah or even Gi’-tchie Man-i-to’ each word should mean the same to us. It should mean hope and love and peace for our souls.
It’s only when our soul is at peace that we can come to realize that in times of weakness true strength comes from deep inside you and can only be nourished by communing with others. Find that inner strength – you’ll be surprised to discover what you can do with it and how strong it can actually make you.