The Centered Self

The point of religion should be to help us center ourselves in God, and therefore center us within the world as beacons of hope and help. As each one of us becomes more spiritually centered in the presence of the Infinite Unifier, the world transforms away from war and greed towards peace and prosperity for all—universally. Lynching, racism, torture, war, “accidental” deaths in prison cells or the back of a police van, hoarding and  profit margin all become things of the past, as we find a religion that centers our self rather than making us self-centered. Unfortunately, religion today seems to be as much a corporate entity as Ford or Frigidaire. Is religion a wholly owned subsidiary of the global corporation, rather than a Holy owned subsidiary of God?

Perhaps the problem is the way we define religion. We think of the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, etc. as religions. See the pattern here? Religion is most closely associated with institutions and the preservation of those institutions. Religion is not an institution, though. It is a set of practices that enhance beliefs that lead us to a different world-view, one that never, ever excludes anyone from God’s love.

One of the ways we can test our spiritual progress is by critically self-examining what we believe in. If there is even a molecule of hatred or exclusion in our belief system, we still have work to do—and lots of it. The more we become centered in God, the more difficult it becomes for us to hate another being, because we have begun to realize there is no other being: there is only God, in a multitude of incarnations.

Religious institutions can help us achieve this goal. Religion in general gets a bum rap today, and somewhat deservedly so. Institutions often lose sight of why they were created in the first place. As people of faith it should cause us pain and concern when our institutions run off the rails. Jesus, as a loving and faithful Jew, was concerned about the religious institution of his time, which is why he’s so often portrayed in heated debates with the religious leadership of that era.

Our religions, whether Native American, African, Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Wiccan—whatever, all have the same original intention: to raise people’s conscious awareness of something greater in their lives, a presence beyond the present, a presence we can experience that changes the very fabric of our being. Whatever we call the energy that goes by many names, humans have always had the concept there is something more—some force, a force of love, present in the universe.

We created religion and religious institutions to share these feelings and teachings with each other. We still come together to help each other center in the presence of God, which takes us beyond our self-centered nature. I know we can all turn on the TV right now and see someone preaching about all the gifts with which God will bless you if you’re “saved.” But God is never about the self, God’s about being selfless. God is never about getting what’s mine, God’s about giving to and for others. Religion should never teach pulling yourself up by your bootstraps or, “I’ve got mine, you get yours.” Rather, religion should always and forever be about making sure those most hungry are fed first, by first making sure we are centered in God, rather than our foolish selves.

Meditation: Center me in a higher love.

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