Henry D. Thoreau was a leading transcendentalist who believed that society and its institutions such as organized religion, political parties and government that stops serving its people ultimately corrupt the purity of an individual. I guess that I have always been a transcendentalist as well for I loathe any kind of authority over myself or my children and feel sorry for those who are not able to think for themselves. I believe that the government was created in order to provide structure for human societies and to look out for the best interest of its people and organized religions might have once been meager attempts to provide people with a tool that helped them cope with a harsh unpredictable reality of life. I say "might have" because of all the holy wars that were started in the name of god and all the people that were forced to practice a religion that was foreign to them or killed defending their beliefs. There is something seriously wrong with any religion that declares a holy war and proclaims that god supports us killing one another and reprimands anyone who disagrees with what it is preaching. And there is something wrong with any government that promotes the wealth and power of the few that are in influential positions while disregarding the welfare of the rest and turns a blind eye on the aimless waste of its natural resources by greedy corporations.
To my family's disappointment, Russian or Ukrainian culture and Christianity never appealed to me. Being spiritual, I had a lot of questions about nature and purpose of life. The violence and indifference that I saw in the world around me didn’t make sense. Even as a child, I had a different view of how the world should be and deep faith that it was possible to create it, if people tried hard enough. I longed for a philosophy that would allow me to explore my inner world to a greater extent and after struggling with the cultural misalignment for years as a child and a young adult, I made a decision to seek my own truth. I see life as an endless stream of questions. Answers are found when sought and then new questions are formed from the higher level of conscious understanding. The purpose of our lives is to learn and develop, and that can't be done from the state of fear, denial or obedience. A seeking spirit should never be confined!
A few disturbing encounters in the last few weeks fired me up to urge people to wake up from whatever dream that they are sleepwalking through as I realized that acceptance in our society is hard to come by. Some people just can't accept when others think or do things that go against their upbringing or choices in life. Culture is the playground for adults. It is where children, born with innate ability to recognize that such differences are inconsequential, are taught to discriminate and to exclude. With time, they too will take pride in being a privileged member of a religion, race or heritage and start living out of habits of their ancestors. They too will become convinced that they are right to the point of trying to strip others of their human rights and liberties. I remember the outrage last summer over gay marriage law that NY state government has finally passed. A man outside the church in his community was furious that such thing should be allowed. He said that it doesn’t work for him, but nobody is making him do anything that he doesn’t agree with. It is between people who love each other that now have the right to join in a civil union and has absolutely nothing to do with him. I wonder where his preoccupation with what others do with their lives comes from and why he is so certain that he’s right and they’re wrong!
I have officially emancipated myself of all religious establishments because it became painfully obvious that they all, without exception, try to fit people in their view of the world, leaving no space for spiritual exploration. I have been chased by madmen with “Bibles” enough. It is now time to stand tall and firm, proclaiming my independence. Only I decide where my boundaries are because I live out of the box. As a free spirit and a citizen of the world, I serve no person and no social or religious organization. I don't follow any traditions that don't completely make sense to me. And I am yet to find any that do. Therefore, I pledge my life only to the love and peace that is the foundation of the universe itself. I play in other people's "sandboxes" of cultures. I pick and choose what brings joy to my heart and enlivens my spirit. Tradition can be beautiful and I understand its importance in people's lives. It can serve as an instrument of unity within the cultural group. However, tradition can also become a tool of separation. At first it’s something like "us and them" and then grows further into "us against them". But, in reality, we are all one. We are all sparks of Devine consciousness that in this lifetime chose to incarnate into human form on this planet. A person of one cultural background can potentially become a person of another, it is a choice that we made and continue making on daily basis. We can be anything that our hearts desire. And shouldn’t our hearts desire peace, love and freedom above all?
Through Buddhist practice and meditation I saw that we all carry everything we need inside us and that there are numerous ways to access these treasures. It is not important what name we give to the higher power, as long as we realize that we are all essentially referring to the same thing and that the higher power is an integral part of each of us, waiting to be recognized and awakened. A person’s existence on this planet is not confined to a social bubble where he or she belongs, we are all citizens of the world, whether we acknowledge it or not. There is no separation between us but in our minds! There will be no lasting peace and happiness in the world until people start caring enough to transcend the differences that they were conditioned to see by their cultures, religions and governments. The boundaries of separation so carefully built by countless generations of ancestors need to come down so that people can start to think for themselves and live from the perspective and wisdom of their souls.