Religious and spiritual systems all over the world were created by us in order to understand both the world we live in and the “otherworldliness” that seems to invade our lives-the big debate centers on whether this experience comes from outside of life and steps into life, or it comes from within life to meet and greet life. And we have to take into account that some of us doubt that there is anything “out there” or “in there” at all. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take the spiritual and religious systems that address these questions seriously; we just shouldn’t take them too literally. And the facts speak for themselves, meaning that a deep excavation of the history of those systems will pretty much reveal the shocking truth that none of us have the answers. So humanists tell us that maybe we don’t need these systems at all. In a nutshell, we’ve been playing an endless Q&A game with ourselves. As we’ve evolved, so have our questions, but the cycle still continues. In fact, we need to continue to talk about these things because they are essential to our life on the planet.
For me, just as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other major organs of the body function together as a whole; spiritual, humanistic, philosophical, and secular traditions from both eastern and western cultures function as major parts of our collective soul. So yes, if they were created for us by us in order to help us, then we are what we have been looking for. And if that is the case then yes, “God” or “Being” is where I am. Our definitions of it are fuzzy, fluid, and maybe even wrong on occasion, but that’s only because when we try to name or contain this experience we limit it and ostracize someone else’s experience. At the end of the day, the only experience we can account for is our own experience. This transcendent quality is found in the depths of our life living. It’s only mysterious and often times invisible from us because maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. In my experience, I’ve found that what I was looking for “out there” was “in there”, within my own heart and in my life all of the time. And to be honest, spiritual traditions did prevent me from discovering this all along because they sucked me into their vast rules, standards and requirements. But, all of that “stuff” helped me because it woke up that investigative part of my soul which made me ask questions. The nature of those questions and answers led me to where I am today-free.
We avoid other humans in order to find God or a spiritual experience when in fact the very experience we are looking for is found in the human life. At the depth of our humanity is the threshold of what we call “God”, which is a metaphor for the beating, pulsating, raw, edgy, bloody experience of life. Try that one as your definition of God and see if your life doesn’t change! So as you can see from this article, when I searched for “God” I found myself-my own soul. While I was searching for spirituality I found myself becoming more and more humanistic. Is there such a thing as humanistic spirituality? I’m not sure if that label will stick but I kind of like it-maybe it will resonate with you. But one thing is for certain; my explorations gave me freedom to LIVE LIFE and LIVE it more abundantly. Shouldn’t that experience represent the core and purpose of the spiritual experience anyway; Jesus thought so-maybe he was a humanist too? After all, he said, “the kingdom of God is within us.”
Jess Herriott, M.A. is a teacher, whose work explores the nature of the soul. In 2013 he received incardination into the Universal Anglican Church as a radically inclusive- interspiritual teacher & priest.
Whether serving as a local adjunct professor of english for his literature classes in the Atlanta area, providing home-work help & ACT/SAT prep for his high school students, or weaving together stories from the world’s sacred texts on Sunday mornings to spiritual communities throughout the south east, Jesse has spent the last decade trying to explore what it means to educate the whole person.
In March of 2015, he was selected by Morehouse College to be inducted onto the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers and Scholars, in the historic Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel, in Atlanta, Georgia.
His weekly empowerment broadcast, “Living on Purpose” is archived on the Unity Online Radio Network at www.unity.fm/program/livingonpurpose
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