Saturday, September 09, 2006

Religious Connection

I have been thinking a lot lately about what religion means to me. I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious family (immediate or extended), so I didn’t have the aspect of family tradition to fall back on when it came to the subject. So when I recently read the line “Transpersonal Psychology concerns the study of those states and processes in which people experience a deeper sense of who they are, or a greater sense of connectedness with other, with nature, or the spiritual dimension” on the back of a text book*, I stated to realize why the subject of religion interests me.

A Deeper Sense of Who I Am

Religion forces one to realize that there is more to one’s self than the persona that is presented. I realize that there is a deeper side of me than people can ever see. I like the idea that there is someone else (read: deity) that may be able to see all of what is going on inside my head and understand why things are the way they are. This thought is comforting to me.

The thought that someone is watching also makes me realize that there is more to being a “good” person than just good deeds and good thoughts – intentions matter. No one can see or truly know my intentions beyond what I indicate or tell them.

A Greater Sense of Connectedness with Others

When I think of religion, I think of religious community. Religion helps us to think about the things we all have in common and gives us a way to relate to one another in a meaningful way. When we have a community to worship and practice our religion with, we feel connected to each other.

It’s also more than that. When we have community, we know that there are others that have beliefs that are similar to our own and that is a comforting thought as well. Our community can support us; sometimes just by our knowing they’re there because of our connection with them.

A Greater Sense of Connectedness with Nature

Paganism has a special emphasis on how we are connected to nature. We are a part of the world’s life cycles; we are a part of everything around us. This connection is shown through explicit (Pagan holidays) and implicit (Pagan teachings and values) ways. Many Pagans also have a connection with nature through use of the moon, stars, etc as symbols.

I realize that religion now interests me because I am looking for a connection that I didn’t believe existed. I now understand that it exists, but it still hasn’t quite “clicked” with me yet. I think it is because I’m looking for a direction that doesn’t exists – something that is everywhere and nowhere all at once. Something that is difficult to understand.

Maybe that is why religious tradition is so important to people. We are trying to make sense of a world we don’t quite understand. While science can explain certain aspects of our world, there are many other things that just cannot be explained. Religion gives us a way to make those connections is a way that means something to everyone involved.

* Daniels, M. (2005). Shadow, self, spirit: essays in transpersonal psychology. Imprint-Academic: UK.


Ligeia said...

Very good use of that quote! I had read or seen it somewhere before - or something very similar.

Mind if I use it on my blog?

Sojourner said...

Go for it.

The quote was from the blurb on the back of the text book that I am reading which was sited at the end of my post. (Not for class though; I occasionally pick up text books that I don't need to read because of personal interest rather than for the purpose of a class. I know, I need help.) :)

Nixie B said...

Great post, Sojourner! I'm going to have to get that book. It will be a great addition to the psychology reading I'll be doing for my class this semester.

Sojourner said...

It is a great book so far. I think that you would be interested in it as well. :)

(Nixie - What branch of psych are interested in? Are you going on to grad school?)

Nixie B said...

I'm planning to apply to a Depth Psychology M.A. program with the intention of starting a clinical counseling practice using tarot and astrology as diagnostic and therapeutic tools. The program director told me I would fit right in! But since my B.A. is in art history and the graduate work I've done up to now is in art history and philosophy, I basically have to start from scratch with psych prerequisites before I will be qualified for acceptance into this program.

Sojourner said...

Yikes! Sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you.

(Off to find out more about Depth Psychology...)

Bernulf said...

Excellent post :-) One passage particularly caught my attention....

"I think it is because I’m looking for a direction that doesn’t exists – something that is everywhere and nowhere all at once. Something that is difficult to understand."

It sounds like you're describing a search for a linear direction in a realm where 'linear' doesn't really exist. Something kind of funny about the universe we live in: any galaxy in the expanding universe will have the perspective of being in the center - we live in a universe of infinite size, with an infinite number of centers (for all intent and purpose). I think the same thing could apply to seeking linear directions in the realm of spirit...and I think that's part of the reason why following gods and spirits along a path that they partially reveal to us is important. I think that the path is never fully revealed, simply because the human mind isn't (yet) capable of processing all of it...I think the psychologists here could probably offer more insight into this, though :-)