So here I am, in my kitchen. Literally. As I write these words. I’ve got a nice little setup going on, with my laptop on the counter next to the stove so I can stir my kheer (it’s Indian food night in my house) and a stool pulled up to sit on. This will probably result in an imminent rice-on-the-keyboard disaster, so I’ll have to be extra careful in wielding my spoon. My apron is on and my music is playing. Domestic bliss.
It is in moments like these that I am able to easily reach the mindfulness I have to struggle at other times to find (though the other day, when my father accidentally locked us both out of my car in the grocery store parking lot, I was able to stay calm even when we had to walk home lugging groceries in the 100-degree heat and the “shortcut” my father proposed ending up taking us through a mosquito-infested ditch). But now: the sweet smell of the food cooking. The warmth of the kitchen. The strum of the guitar music. Life is lovely.
It’s been a good day in general. I registered for a class I thought I wouldn’t be able to take originally—Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy. The more I learn about world religions, the most passionate I become about wanting to be involved in international relations in the field of religion. As Islamophobia increases in Europe and the U.S. and conflicts across the world arise from religious differences, I want to foster understanding. Whether that will be through a nonprofit job or through the government remains to be seen. Things will happen as they happen.
The other day, one of my friends asked me if I thought that studying religion would make me more likely to become an atheist (many scholars of religion are). I answered that I think learning about so many different religions CAN cause people to choose that belief. But I also think that it can also go another way: the more one studies religion, the more one sees that there is something greater, something that transcends sectarianism. Maybe studying religions may not make you stop believing in RELIGION, but I think it makes you less likely to believe in ONLY one.
I recently discovered Joseph Campbell, a scholar of mythology. He was an expert on all sorts of religions (I’m basically in awe when reading his books, and every other sentence is highlighted by my overeager pen). But he wasn’t an atheist. He just believed in a greater power, a greater truth that transcends all the human attempts to define it as “God” or a certain religion. In his opinions, religions are sociological constructs to try to understand that greater truth.
A great quote from him:
“Now you can personify God in many, many ways. Is there one god? Are there many gods? Those are merely categories of thought. What you are talking and trying to think about TRANSCENDS all that…God as the ultimate mystery of being is beyond thinking.”
I personally find myself following that path, more than the one of atheism, as I learn more. People often ask me what religion I am, when they hear I’m studying religion. They ask if I want to go to seminary, to or teach. Some warn me to choose the “right” religion in the end.
I really don’t have an answer for them. I was raised Presbyterian then Baptist and Catholic. I go to a dharma center for classes on Buddhism. I study and read about all different types of religion. I feel choosing a religion before learning as much as I can about all of them is a disservice to myself—and to them. And who knows? Maybe I’ll never choose just one.
For now, I’m content to taste a spoonful of my cooking, turn up the volume on my music, and watch the sunlight filter in the window. If there is one thing I can say for sure, it is that there is something divine in this moment right here.
- jigsawfaith posted this