October 21     

Today's quotation:

Religion in its true sense is the most joyous thing the human soul can know, and when the real religion is realized, we will find it to be an agent of peace, of joy, and of happiness, and never an agent of gloomy, long-faced sadness.

Ralph Waldo Trine

Today's Meditation:

"Real religion."  It's quite a concept, and something that we don't seem to see much of.  I'm always astonished at the lack of joy in most religions, in most churches that I've ever visited.  Instead of joy, there seems to be a lot of stress, a lot of control issues, and a lot of the "what-a-terrible-person- i-am" thinking that keeps so many of us from feeling any joy or happiness at all.  It's really rather sad, and even sadder because it's so unnecessary.

When we live a true religion-- whether it's associated with an established religion or not-- then we'll find that our lives are characterized by the joy, happiness, and peace that Ralph is talking about.  When we allow ourselves to be taken over by that religion, then the peace that it affords can be ours, and we'll feel the joy not from sharing our religion, but from sharing the planet and our spirits with the other people of our planet, no matter whether they share our religion or not.

I've been to churches in which the people are stern and unsmiling and ready at any moment to call themselves sinners who are unworthy of anything good.  I didn't last more than one service at those particular places because I didn't feel any joy at all, any gratitude for the amazing gifts that we've been given on this planet.  To me, it's impossible to feel gratitude without feeling even a bit of joy for the wonderful gifts we have, and I think it's doing God (whatever you perceive God to be) and life a great disservice to act as though there's nothing to be happy about.

We should strive for true religion rather than striving to be true to the religion we've adopted, or the one that's been passed on to us.  Religion should be about making our spirits at home on this beautiful planet we call home, yet too many people seem to pursue religions that keep them unhappy and focused on the negative.  Let's be happy and joyful, for then we can help others to be so, too.  It's not easy-- if it's even possible-- to make others happy with a perpetual frown on our faces.

Questions to consider:

How did so many religions become so joyless?

How can we help others to be happy if we're unhappy ourselves?

Is religion at all helpful if it keeps us unhappy?

For further thought:

Religion would certainly be more relevant to the hurting masses of humanity if people could express their hopes and dreams and pain and anguish to one another in the context of religious worship.  As it is now our services are so antiseptic and sterile that people gathering for worship relate to others at only the most superficial level, and hardly ever get to know one another. . . . Maybe that is one of the reasons why people feel religion is irrelevant, because they cannot find support and solace during times of crisis and pain.  That is when real religion should be at its best.

Joseph F. Girzone
Never Alone

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