Living Your Religion Every Day
Author: James Bulls
This story is neither about high ceremony nor exotic sorcery; it is not about the alchemical secret to eternal life but the simple secret to everyday life. To preface this simple secret, consider the words of Johann von Goethe who said, “Out of moderation a pure happiness springs.” There are some who would disagree with that statement, but consider its merits on a day-to-day basis. For contrast, consider James Dean’s statement, “Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die today.” You may certainly choose to live each day under the dictates of extremity, but such a lifestyle relies on black-and-white dichotomies quite incompatible with a harmonious lifestyle and a society that requires those members who wish to live successfully the ability to distinguish subtleties, nuance, and shades of grey.
To return to Goethe’s statement that moderation brings happiness, one must look at each day not as a singular opportunity to figuratively explode like James Dean but to burn a low, steady flame. Extremists who make dramatic resolutions toward religious expression attract much attention, but after the noise is finished what remains is a spiritual model incompatible with modern life. As it concerns living your religion everyday, the loud dramatists advocate set rules and habits for life: meditate for an hour every day; read cards every day; exercise every day; never eat this; never drink that; always perform the quarter, cross-quarter, full-Moon, and dark-Moon rituals; and so on. And so the misguided accept one absolute after another into their spiritual devotions until all their time and energy is devoted to planning for the next event.
The trouble with living your religion in terms of absolutes is that each of us is fallible and will fail to satisfy an artificial schedule and arbitrary definition of “spiritual perfection.” Absolutes invite failure, failure invites discouragement, discouragement invites dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction invites mediocrity. This “mediocrity” of which I speak is the ball-and-chain, which prohibits daily expression of one’s religion – it is the intangible obstacle that stands between the spiritually dead and the sublime angels!
Living moderately provides room for failure and permits one to find as much satisfaction in the loving preparation of afternoon tea as another might find in an elaborate Spring Equinox celebration. Moderation permits one to say “I forgive myself for my weaknesses, ” and “This is enough for today.” Living your religion on a daily basis is determined in neither quantity nor quality, but in the process and your ability to find satisfaction in it.
Much of the spiritual insight commonly taught in the New Thought, New Age, Wiccan, and Occult communities is imported from the East, but there is much of value in the West that gets overlooked. With respect to living one’s religion every day and the importance of moderation I set out at the beginning, consider the Religious Society of Friends, also called the Quakers. The Friends believe in moderation, modesty, and (not unlike the Zen Buddhists) a direct experience of God outside of material limitations. The Friends live their faith every day not necessarily through dictated prayer times and worship services, but through quiet appreciation for the Divine and making common-sense choices to live modestly which not only prevent egoic obstacles to spiritual growth but also provide more time for to focus on their friends and family members, community, and simple acts of devotion.
Living moderately (and dare I say modestly) is not a sexy adventure for bold heroes but the source of pure happiness. Living one’s religion every day isn’t a matter of selecting specific rituals, adopting absolute views in the name of simplicity, or making loud declarations for the sake of consistency – it is in fact a broad, consistent expression of your core values. For example, consider Pantheism, a path whose travellers see the very world in which they live as the body of the Divine and who value the environment, wildlife, and the needs of their kin and neighbours. Pantheists may have specific rituals they practice for spiritual edification such as cartomancy, theurgy, and folk medicine (Qi gong, Reiki, etc.) , but it is putting the carriage before the horse to say that the rituals are the religion – a religion is the sum of the core values and ultimate goals!
To live their religion every day, Pantheists may choose activities or make simple changes which support their beliefs such as: turning off a light when they leave the room; taking the time and effort to recycle paper, glass, and plastic; collect litter in their neighbourhood or at the local park; volunteer once or twice a month at the animal shelter; donate their time to Habitat for Humanity; making a meal for a friend or inviting a friend to a meal; walking or riding a bike when a vehicle isn’t needed; using cloth shopping bags; turning off the TV or computer to spend more time with your spouse and children; or even just smiling and saying hello to strangers on the street. None of these actions are as sexy and exciting as high ceremony or deep meditation, but they are all easily adopted into one’s everyday life and each of them supports the religious expression of the Pantheist.
Moderation is the simple secret to daily expression of one’s religion; you will not find happiness in strict adherence to daily religious ritual but in the small, simple activities and choices, which are the mundane foundation of your religious philosophy. If you worship the Earth, make choices, which protect the environment. If you revere the sacred feminine, make choices that would lead others to respect femininity. If you believe that your spiritual purpose is to serve your fellows, be friendly and willing to help. But if you want to live your religion every day, don’t obligate yourself to an arbitrary schedule of worship or you’ll only become a slave to your faith. Remember you values and you’ll immediately change from an event-based religion to a day-to-day expression of faith.