Let us try to put all this into a proper perspective and also try to be fair and non judgmental. This is a deeply personal reaction to a religious organization that actually worked well enough for most. This can actually be said for all such organizations.
The problem is that while religion is inspired by a spiritual agenda, it is also true that out of a community of hundreds, only a small handful are typically engaged in a spiritual practice at all and that may have little to do with organized anything.
Spiritual practice demands intent and desire. There are many pathways but all require advice and a lot of time. it is not even clear that more effort gives more results. I think intent and some practice is sufficient as it requires the biology to reorganize and that takes time.
What this really means is that religion is actually a community organizing principal first. It draws a community together to meet every so often and this allows cross fertilization of information. And of course that means ins and outs however irrational. Obviously far superior to a barbarian Big Man system of organization. So suddenly we understand the real genius of the Roman Empire.
It follows that if you are out of sorts with your community, it is time to find one congenial to your needs. This often is expressed as seeking spiritual guidance and often that is available from priests and religious leaders generally. Yet it is all private. On the surface you memorize meaningless prayers. Yet that is a critical first step in actual meditation. Who would have thought as much unless told and we are typically never told..
Today we are doing much better. .
In many ways, my spiritually convoluted childhood was a gift in disguise. Although my mother was raised strict Roman Catholic and my father was raised strictly Jewish, I was baptized Christian, and when it was time to send me to school, I was sent to a very Catholic school run by tyrant nuns. Neither my mom, nor my dad, considered that they were sending me to a Catholic school, where I would stand out like a sore thumb — with a very Jewish last name and a nose to match. I was treated differently by the nuns than the other kids but I was too young to understand why, and by the end of first grade, even the other kids formed an alliance against me. This overt judgment from nuns and peers went on for years, and as result, I did poorly in school, I had no friends, and I believed that there was something very wrong with me.
- Your spiritual practice gives you freedom, and space, to find your own answers, even if those answers disagree with the spiritual teachings.
- You are not judged, punished or excluded for thinking differently, or questioning ideas.
- Your spiritual practice moves you toward love and oneness, providing the space for you to forgive yourself and others, as you let go of old heavy baggage which no longer serves you.
- The spiritual teachings uplift you to new heights of awareness, while also inspiring you to express yourself.
- Spiritual beliefs are offered through lessons of empowerment, and not through fear of karma, punishment or any form of disempowerment, nor should you be manipulated through guilt, obligation, or impending regret.
- Your spiritual teacher does not encourage dependency on him or her, tell you what to do, how to think or make other spiritual teachings wrong or less than.
- You are not asked to judge, reject or exclude others in order to remain in the religion, nor are you punished for loving those who don’t obey the rules of your religion.
- You feel honored and respected by your teacher and peers, and you never feel as if the teacher, or spiritual practice, has power over you, or that your worthiness is in question. .
- Your practice empowers you to discover who you really are, and supports you in developing an intimate and personal relationship with the Divine, where you experience yourself as unconditionally loved.
- If your intention is spiritual awakening, your spiritual practice must not only empower you to discover the door of awakening, it must also encourage you to let go so that you can enter. In order to fully awaken, you must be willing to let go of even the sacred practice that got you there.