Your religious/spiritual journey

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Hey all. One thing I like about this forum is how incredibly diverse the religious opinions/beliefs are here. I'm curious to know how you would describe your religious journey, or how you came to believe the things you do now? What do you believe and why? Have your beliefs changed often, or stayed pretty stable?

I'll go first. I think I mentioned this somewhere else on the forums, but I was raised irreligious. I've always had a keen interest in the supernatural, though, from a very young age. I was obsessed with ghosts as a child, dabbled in Wicca as a preteen, and created my own religion at 12 (which is a source of eternal embarrassment haha). In my teens I become convinced of monotheism, and I eventually converted to Christianity and was baptized in my early twenties. I was generic Protestant at first, then Anglo-Catholic, and then intensely Catholic. I should note that I can't properly call myself an ex-Catholic because I was never officially received into the Church. However, while I was waiting to do so, I prayed the rosary every day (I was even part of the Confraternity), went to mass diligently, read the saints and had a fervent devotion to them, prayed chaplets galore, believed the Church had the fullness of salvation, was the one and only church of Jesus Christ, etc. etc. My entire social circle was Catholic, as was my ex-fiancé. So I feel comfortable calling myself an "ex believer in Catholicism". I ended up having a mental breakdown due to scrupulosity and dropped out of RCIA. I respect Catholicism, but traditional Catholicism definitely gave me religious trauma (no disrespect to any Catholics here!). Anyways, since then, I've been on the search for a new faith. Beyond the older Abrahamic religions, I've tried Baha'i, Eckankar, Tenrikyo. All are interesting, but none seem like the truth I'm looking for.

I'd love to hear about your journey!
 
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Thanks, here is mine:

During my childhood and adolescence, my family moved home over three continent. I grew up in countries with Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian majority societies. My parents were an interfaith couple of sorts, but we children got raised protestant Christians.

I married early in life, my partner is secular Jewish. I learned about her ancestral religion, and we raised our child in a secular home, though commemorating a few of the more important festivals in a very secular way.

I studied or trained in Theravada Buddhism for over a decade, and got quite into it. About 20 years ago, I realized something very liberating about myself, which is hard to put into words but which is most easily summed up as, "I have no God". I continue to be fascinated by the religions and ways of life which we as human beings hold.

I'm part of a very loose group of interesting people from all kinds of backgrounds who have in common a curiosity about what makes us tick as human beings, how we express desire and intention and purpose - all rather experimental and eclectic to the maximum.

All right, enough from me -
 
I studied or trained in Theravada Buddhism for over a decade, and got quite into it. About 20 years ago, I realized something very liberating about myself, which is hard to put into words but which is most easily summed up as, "I have no God". I continue to be fascinated by the religions and ways of life which we as human beings hold.

Religion really is so fascinating, even from an academic pov, so I totally get that. I think even if I were totally irreligious, I'd still love to learn about them. I don't know too much about Buddhism, but I know that Theravada is one of the main 'denominations'. What drew you to it in specific, rather than one of the other branches?
 
I spent a substantial time of my adolescence in a South-East Asian country with a culture deeply steeped in Theravada. I found the texts and teachings to be very lucid and detailed, which appealed to my mindset.
 
It was 1969, I was 9 yrs old when we moved into our next home in a quiet suburban town in northern NJ. The house had a huge wrap-around porch in front which I immediately needed to explore underneath. I entered thru the small side door by the driveway into the dirt-floored catacomb where gardening tools, cement bags, and loose bricks lay . . . my quest was the wrap-around section all the way in the back . . . away from the light of the door . . . into my first Abyss!

I crawled to the far end and slowly made my way into the small room where after my eyes adjusted to the Dark I found a small nightstand and a black book resting on top. I retrieved the book and snuck it up into my bedroom to investigate.

Lo and behold, it was none other than the Clavicula Salomonis Regis Lemegeton better known as the Lesser Key of Solomon and best known as the Goetia. At the time I had no idea what the cool demonic pictures were, what the weird words meant, or anything about the book and its contents . . . but man did I flip through the pages and stare for days and days until it was confiscated by my mother and probably destroyed!

In retrospect to where I am now (62 yrs olde) The Prince of Darkness must have realized a potentially strong advocate for the Western Left Hand Path in me, which I think I am.
 
Did you get another copy of the Lemegeton, or did you read other occult books next?
 
Did you get another copy of the Lemegeton, or did you read other occult books next?
Yes, I have a couple of versions of the Lemegeton, unfortunately, I can't find the exact version that I had back then.
You could say I have a few occult books :cool:
 

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Hey all. One thing I like about this forum is how incredibly diverse the religious opinions/beliefs are here. I'm curious to know how you would describe your religious journey, or how you came to believe the things you do now? What do you believe and why? Have your beliefs changed often, or stayed pretty stable?

I'd love to hear about your journey!
Some interesting journeys so far. I don't know if it is serendipity, but I was thinking about that a couple nights ago. Even called my brother to see if he recalled any of that period of time, and it was too fuzzy for him to recall details. It didn't involve him anyway, but a long time (couple years anyway, long time to a 13 year old kid) friend of my mom suddenly stopped coming around after I spent a few days' summer vacation at her house in Long Beach.

She was a church going person, moved back "home" I guess to be closer to her family, I think her mom and dad were nearby, and I remember meeting her brother - big into a jazz drummer I recall, Buddy Rich I want to say.

I'm belaboring the point, but perhaps some background is also in order. It wasn't all that long before I remember my Mom had every light in the house burning for 3 nights in a row after seeing the movie the Exorcist first run in the theater. I never have seen it, only snippets.

My Mom took us kids to movies a lot right after my Dad left. For a couple years it was not uncommon to load us kids into the back of the 1963 Ford Falcon station wagon, factory white with fading paint and two cartoonishly big red circles on the back tailgate. Among others I remember seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey first run in a drive in movie theater. Still my all time favorite movie.

Another movie that stuck with me I didn't know the name for decades, talking with my brother he said it was Mark of the Devil. It was about the Spanish Inquisition, and even circa 1971-2, it was quite graphically realistic. I had nightmares for years, I can still call up the images in my mind - though now I have a context.

Back to my Mom's friend's house in Long Beach, it's not like she was wealthy. She had two young children, a boy and a girl, I think about 3 and 4 or so at the time, not quite school age. I remember going to her church, which to me was uneventful. Certainly not outside of what I had seen before, non-denom Protestant. I was a kid, I didn't dwell on the particulars, but I liked Sunday School and couldn't sit through a sermon.

I've written this story once before but it never got wide audience. Not long before I was coming home, the night before I think, I had a vision. I sat up in bed, rubbed my eyes, shook my head and tried to forget. Laid back down, closed my eyes, and the vision played again, repeated in full.

I knew even then it was symbolic, but of what?

I remember being in what I considered the dress of a young Roman, with his loins girded, but otherwise unsuspecting. I remember a wall and going through it, and laying down in the meadow enjoying basking in the sun, as a hand moved across the sky over me, and the hand was clenched, and in that hand was assorted long knives, swords and spears.

I recall seeing my wrist as two smaller blades tried to pin my wrist, I pulled away as the fist opened, and the knives and spears formed the outline of where I had just been laying.

The shorter blades faded into plants but the taller spears turned into statues.

Soldiers came running through the garden gate and smashed the statues with their swords. I remember distinctly still to this day, the face I saw was Babylonian, like early Babylon. I didn't know the name Babylon at the time and all I knew was the look in the eye. It wasn't long later I found what was essentially the twin in a book at school.

My Mom used to tip tables (done that a time or two myself), she had some kind of modified playing deck of cards that included aces and face cards but only went down to like number 7 or something...she'd spend hours doing that. She did the WeeGee board a few times I know as well.

I didn't have a particularly spiritual home, not fully true, I know my Mom loved us kids, she just had a funny way of showing it sometimes. We went to a couple non-denom churches, especially right after Dad left. We moved, Mom remarried a Mexican Man and went back to her latent Catholicism. By the way, Armando, my step-Dad, was the only one of my 4 parents that treated me like a human. I was oldest, so ended up Mom's servant, Dad ignored me and step-mom was a bitch...and that's being polite.

I've had other visions over the years, even Deja Vu, or my version anyway...prophetic in that life presented a situation that matched a dream, and always at a crucial turning point in my life. But I don't seek.

I can't tell you what G!d is, but He is.
 
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Thanks, @juantoo3! I think I'm missing the connecting detail between your mom's friend and the folliwing events.
 
Hey all. One thing I like about this forum is how incredibly diverse the religious opinions/beliefs are here. I'm curious to know how you would describe your religious journey, or how you came to believe the things you do now? What do you believe and why? Have your beliefs changed often, or stayed pretty stable?

I grew up in an area that - even until this day over a decade later - is predominantly Southern Baptist.

Since it is a rural area that is lacking in religious diversity, one may ask how I became the oddball for beginning to question core doctrines of my religious community like the bodily resurrection of Christ or eternal hell. In a tightknit community where everybody knows everybody, it is a real mental pressure cooker to think differently. I think personality plays a role. As a highly sensitive person (HSP) when I was younger, I could not fathom seemingly good people from other religions being tossed into hell for eternity, so I believe this first prompted a search outside of Christianity for what I perceived to be a gentler faith.

During my late teenage years, I consumed a plethora of books in my search. I recall Gandhi's autobiography stood out the most during this time, because the young Gandhi was an HSP who nearly fainted from fear of a public speech. This aspect of his personality reminded me of my own, so I befriended him in spirit, seeking to imitate him in some way. One way was unsuccessfully becoming a vegan. After a few months I soon noticed that vitiligo had formed on my arm because I was not eating the proper nutrients, and so I swiftly put a stop to the experiment. I had no clue what I was doing or getting into. My little experiment with a vegan-like diet lasted about five months. Soon the spot on my arm vanished.

I cannot recall the exact wording, but I do remember receiving comments like: "Reading will confuse you" (as if the Bible were the only good thing to read). "Oh, he is just trying to sound like white people" (when referring to how I started to speak differently from everybody else during my college days). I would not say my relatives are ill-intentioned, but they are not highly educated. Lately they have been improving in terms of open-mindedness, I think.

During my college years I attended church services with a non-denominational church, went on mission trips with adventures straight into the heart of Navajo territory, and used my talents like art to serve the local community. One of my most beloved memories after college includes tending to the needs of children with disabilities in an orphanage, for my brother is also disabled. These orphans were abandoned by their parents because they did not want them or were not able to care for them. This was a profound religious experience for me.

Anyway, I could go on here, but I do not want to go into too much detail - AND it is getting late.
 
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..All are interesting, but none seem like the truth I'm looking for..
That's the thing .. all of our deeds are "judged" by our intention. [in quotes, due to 'G-d judging' not being literal, as G-d is NOT a person]

..so what we find, is dependent on what we want to find..
The more desperate we are to find absolute truth, the more likely we are to find it.
It is more than likely, that we won't like this absolute truth .. satan does not like us gaining knowledge.
[satan, a created being, is a person by definition - but it is often used in a generic sense, meaning devil(s)]
 
Cradle Catholic ... wandered off ... joined a cult ... fell out with that ... Discovered the Perennial Philosophy in the writings of the Traditionalists (mostly Sufi) ... discovered (via the Perennialists) Patristics (the Fathers to about the 9th century) back into Catholicism, a 'Christian Platonist' as much Orthodox as Roman Catholic ...
 
Thanks, @juantoo3! I think I'm missing the connecting detail between your mom's friend and the folliwing events.
Fair enough.

Chalk it up to random associations within my mental faculties...combined with probably sharing more information than I should have. The underlying point is that I am nobody special, yet I have these experiences of connection meaningful only to me, purely subjective and could never stand in a court of law (or public opinion for that matter), that reinforce to me that underlying and pervasive something that I cannot put my finger on but I know is there.
 
I spent a substantial time of my adolescence in a South-East Asian country with a culture deeply steeped in Theravada. I found the texts and teachings to be very lucid and detailed, which appealed to my mindset.

I love countries like that; that have a rich religious life. My own country is technically religiously diverse, but unfortunately most people are very secular. I had little to no exposure to religious ideas as a child, I had to do my own research later.
 
I've had other visions over the years, even Deja Vu, or my version anyway...prophetic in that life presented a situation that matched a dream, and always at a crucial turning point in my life. But I don't seek.

That's fascinating. I'm very intrigued by mystic experiences like the one you described, having never had anything remotely like them before.
I remember being in what I considered the dress of a young Roman, with his loins girded, but otherwise unsuspecting. I remember a wall and going through it, and laying down in the meadow enjoying basking in the sun, as a hand moved across the sky over me, and the hand was clenched, and in that hand was assorted long knives, swords and spears.

I recall seeing my wrist as two smaller blades tried to pin my wrist, I pulled away as the fist opened, and the knives and spears formed the outline of where I had just been laying.

The shorter blades faded into plants but the taller spears turned into statues.

Soldiers came running through the garden gate and smashed the statues with their swords. I remember distinctly still to this day, the face I saw was Babylonian, like early Babylon. I didn't know the name Babylon at the time and all I knew was the look in the eye. It wasn't long later I found what was essentially the twin in a book at school.

So what do you think was the purpose of this vision?
 
That's fascinating. I'm very intrigued by mystic experiences like the one you described, having never had anything remotely like them before.


So what do you think was the purpose of this vision?
I've taken it as a warning, to avoid fortune telling and related parlor games. I've understood the statue head that hit the ground and rolled just enough to look me straight in the eye as "not of G!d." That understanding was instantaneous. I've left fortune telling alone since.
 
Lovely library, @'Amir Alzzalam, and are those your guitars?

When did your interest in the occult become specifically LHP?
I guess in the late 80's as I was not really aware of what the LHP was until then.
And yes, that was my guitar, I don't have that one any longer though.
These days I solely play my Hot-Rodded '92 Telecaster!
 
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