A RELIGION OF ONE’S OWN
A number of years ago Marianne Williamson asked me to write a chapter on the future of religion for a book she was editing. I tried, but at that time I wasn’t ready to tackle the question. Now I am. I see the world heading for a completely secular approach to life, which is to say soulless, which is to say disaster. We need a new way to be religious, a really new way. A way that honors the traditions of the past but moves on.
To give you a taste of the new book, I’ve summarized its main points in a list of ten ways you can make a religion of your own. In the book I go into specifics on how to do these things. This is just a list.
1. MEDITATE: Learn a formal way of meditating, or be contemplative in nature, alone, at work, or at home.
2. LIVE ETHICALLY: Do no harm and make your life a positive contribution to humanity. Work ethically for ethical companies or organizations. Change work if necessary. At least, stay on track toward a highly moral life work.
3. LIVE RESPONSIVELY. Read the signs for who you are to be and what you are to do.
4. HAVE A DREAM PRACTICE. Dreams give you strong hints about what’s going on and how you can adjust. Without them you have no guidance but your own consciousness, which is too limited.
5. BE A MYSTIC. Expand your sense of self through art and wonder. Achieve special states of awareness. Have a greater sense of self through losing yourself.
6. BE INTIMATE WITH NATURE. Especially take daily note of the sky: sun and moon, clouds, weather, planets, stars. Learn from animals. Be astonished by geology and plant life.
7. BE A MONK OR A MONKESS. Adapt monasticism of any variety to your daily life and to the world in which you live. Spend time carefully. Read deeply. Study. Honor the book, good food and community.
8. AIM FOR BLISS. Not superficial happiness or possessions or wealth. Not entertainment. But bliss: knowing you are in the right place and doing what you are meant to do.
9. DEVELOP A PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY OF LIFE. Think about your life. Work out some principles for yourself. Don’t follow the crowd. Take the road less taken, the narrow gate, the path you see behind you.
10. LEARN FROM THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS AND SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS. You don’t have to join or believe. Find insights and methods and beautiful expressions and images. Don’t separate secular from sacred. Make your own collection of truths and art works.