This post is a brief outline of my spiritual journey so far… I share it here because I think it may resemble the journeys of many other people. We live in a world of great change and being religious has become a way of living that is constantly being challenged. It is as if those of us who believe in God or in a meaningful universe, are somehow weaker and less courageous than those who can face-up to the truth that the world is dark and meaningless.
When I was young I was a child of nature. Born on a farm I just lived to be outside, climb trees, run, cycle… I loved being free and wild. I hated school.
I grew up hating institutions.
As a teenager I was confronted with the mystery of the meaning of life (and the meaning of my testosterone). This led to a deep existential angst that would ultimately lead, at the age of twenty-three, to a nervous breakdown. Before that, I joined the Anglican Church and became a Christian. At one point I felt that my vocation was to become a minister of the church but that did not work out.
During my nervous breakdown I spent some time – very briefly – as an atheist. I soon reconnected to my Christian faith again and this time it felt more real. As I approached my mid-thirties I encountered Buddhism. As I had always struggled with Christian theology and ideas such as the Incarnation of Christ, the Trinity and the virgin birth, I looked closer at the religion from the East. It mirrored my thinking. Zen Buddhism especially. Who needs concepts and ideas when you can have a direct experience of God?
But the more I investigated Buddhism, the more I realised that there was no place for a creator God; the world just happened according to Buddhist understanding. So, I turned back to Christianity taking with me the very special wisdom that comes from Buddhist teachings and experience. I felt this was a great move. Wisdom and God together.
My relationship with God is the essential part of my spirituality. Christianity, for me, with its complex theology and its rather negative view of human nature, began to disillusion me, again.
From my life-long study of philosophy and religion I had encountered, frequently, the writings and teachings of the Ancient Greeks; the Stoics especially. For some reason I never really considered that these great thinkers could offer anything to a 21st century spiritual person. I was wrong.
In Stoicism I have found an understanding of God that I recognise, a wisdom that seems so true (and very similar to Buddhist wisdom) and a very positive approach to life. All of this from a philosophy that is older than Christianity.
This is where I am at now.
I will tell you more later, about what it all means… I don’t think for one moment that the idea of God will disappear. Those of us who can, must continue to make a case for God. We must help those who want to share in the wonder of living in a meaningful universe, but who are caught-up in the quasi enlightened zeitgeist of our time.