I’m not particularly big on the word “religion”. I find it to be oft times restrictive, non-inclusive and all too often divisive. Though I have studied the world’s religions all my life, it’s not a field that I find myself associating with very often. When anyone asks me if I am a religious person I often answer, “not particularly, but I am a spiritual seeker.”
There’s probably no greater cause of war throughout history than religious differences. The only thing that comes close to it is greed. I choose to stay as far away from the human element of religion in my spiritual practice, which, of course, is rather impossible, but, for me, preferable. We humans (and I count myself as one) have confused the study of God, consciousness, reality, our world, matter, thought, spirit and the universe by dividing into groups and along the way, shutting doors and windows to alternative thought in an effort to protect our own.
It strikes me that religions often are more limiting than creative. They often force the thinker into a box and essentially say, “think this, study this, here is the only truth – shut the rest out.”
If there is anything that I’ve learned in my life’s study of spirituality, it’s that nobody has a corner on truth. Truth is truth. Everybody has access to it. Every religion I’ve ever studied captured and illuminated much truth for me. The only thing that really ever got in my way was the differences in language or the various definitions of words that are tossed about. Most religious differences I’ve found to be based on a confusion of semantics.
So I choose to call myself first a spiritual seeker rather than a religious person. I hope this does not offend you as I approach the writing of this post with the objective of unifying thought as opposed to dividing it.
Wikipedia states, “A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense a scientist is an individual who uses a scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science… Some perform research toward a more comprehensive understanding of nature, including physical, mathematical and social realms… This is distinct from philosophers, those who use logic toward more comprehensive understanding of intangible aspects of reality that lack a direct connection to nature, focusing on the realm of thought itself.”
If we’re to accept these definitions put forth by Wikipedia, then I suppose I’m sort of a scientist/philosopher, a combination of both. I do engage in a “systematic activity to acquire knowledge” and also I do “use logic toward more comprehensive understanding of intangible aspects of reality…, focusing on the realm of thought itself.”
All said and done, I prefer the word “scientist”. I find spirit to be actually quite tangible the more I study it and matter to be less and less the reality. So I call myself a spiritual scientist.
If I am pinned down to name a life religion I admit very freely to being a Christian Scientist. For those who need a specific religious definition of the way I think, that explains it as well as I know how on the religious level. I grew up a Christian Scientist, attended the Christian Science Sunday School and learned the principles of the religion. In my late twenties and early thirties I decided to explore beyond and commenced a 20-year journey of examination of many of the world’s great religions. This journey was primarily the result of some very serious and thoughtful research I participated in the first couple of years of that journey using the drug, LSD.
The controlled research that I and a few friends took part in certainly opened our minds to many things never before considered regarding life, consciousness, reality and matter and launched me into even further study of spirituality in areas that did not include drugs. It became very clear to me that drugs were not the answer, but I will say that they did provide me a fascinating starting point for exploration and launched my bark into immediate waters of wonder and matter/mind-blowing thought.
I then spent a few years as a practicing Hindu and found that religion to be immaculate in its conception, rich in thought, radical in approach and full of truth. Ultimately I found it difficult to practice it as a western capitalist trying to build a career in show business in NYC. I don’t know whether that would be true for me today, but decades ago I then moved on to Buddhism.
For a couple of years I studied the Dhammapada, generally accepted to be the words of Buddha, and found these verses to be elegant truths that rarely differed from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Studying Buddhism was a joy for me because it further substantiated my understanding of the basic truths of Christianity. There were, of course, many unfamiliar words that in the beginning would scare me and actually put me off until I learned to simply explore the meaning of the word. Always these strange words constructed in foreign languages revealed to me truths that I already believed and understood when translated into my own language. Through these studies I learned not to be fearful of words that I did not use or even know and rather look at their strangeness as opportunities to shed new light on spirituality.
I finally came to understand that human language is insufficient to explain the world of spirituality. It simply was not invented for that world. And so looking at spirituality through the various lenses of language became a plus rather than a minus.
I studied Confucianism, Jainism, the Koran, Judaism, Taoism, and Bahá’í through those years of seeking and honestly found that basically, they all said pretty much the same thing, but used different words.
I then, while in my mid forties, began to have a number of serious physical problems for the first time in my life. As I had never been to a doctor, taken medicine or set foot in a hospital, I decided to tackle these physical problems by healing them rather than using the medical route.
I visited a Christian Science Practitioner to elicit his help. We commenced a three-month series of meetings – one a week – where we systematically did a “spring cleaning” on my thinking. One visit we would discuss business ethics, the next, self-confidence, the next, sexuality, and so on. Each week he would correct my thinking and adjust my consciousness of right and wrong. He was merciless and I dove into this cleaning of my attic with him. During the week I would practice what he taught.
After 3 months of these meetings I was a better man – mentally and physically. We never discussed my physical problems at all – only my mental insufficiencies or confusions. I cleaned these up and committed to a better way of thinking and practicing that thought – a better way of living.
In the course of those three months all of my physical problems cleared up and went away. I was healed. There was never any difficulty moving through this experience. It was all completely positive and I enjoyed the challenge of cleaning up my mind and watching the physical ills disappear as a by-product of that mental purification.
I became a practicing Christian Scientist once again. However, Christian Science was then the basis of my thinking, the central core, though not the circumference of my thinking. Since then I have borrowed helpful corrections to thought from all the sources I studied over those years countless times. Again, truth is truth and I had a myriad of ways to investigate it and look at it.
I have never found this mixing pot to be confusing to my practice and demonstration of truth. My spiritual seeking continues to this day – probably more than ever as I grapple with life, and become more conscious of my own spirituality. The more I learn; the more there is to learn.
In the last ten years I have chosen music as my central tool of exploration. As a life work, music is probably what I’m best at. I’ve spent a lifetime practicing, so why not use it as the means to explore the objective of utmost importance. Exploring spirituality through music is really fascinating because music is such a universal language. It is not limited by spellings and strange words, but is appreciated and loved by all mankind.
Music too is a fascinating science. Again, the more I learn; the more there is to learn. The two, music and spirituality, seem to go hand in hand for me. One complements the other. I am a more spiritual man when I’m creating my music and I’m definitely a better musician when I approach the creation of music spiritually.
I am also always at my best as a person when I am in the studio writing, arranging, orchestrating, etc. There I am the happiest, the most fulfilled and the least stressful. Trouble just seem to fall away when I walk into my studio and I find myself doing everything I can in life to get to work musically. On days when the rest of life gets so hectic that I can’t do that work, I struggle. On the days that I work, I am fulfilled.
Still some things to be learned here… )
So I am a spiritual scientist/philosopher/musician. Being a human being is far too often a struggle. Here is where I need to improve and learn to manage life. Here is where I’m still stuck – earthbound. Both The Missus and I now discuss daily how we can approach these issues of humanity more gracefully and productively. Here is where the problems lay. Here is the next plateau of concentration.
In the meantime, however, I have my joy life, my world of peace, creativity and fulfillment to enter into and explore. My gratitude abounds for this space in thought. I am divinely fortunate.
I don’t know what I can accomplish during the rest of my time here on Planet Earth, but I do know that I am committed to this one endeavor only – scientific spiritual seeking through music. Everything else pales in comparison. Eating, sleeping, the laborious minutiae of everyday life all are just things to work through so that my true commitment can be practiced. The human experience is a stepping-stone to the divine. We’re trying to make those steps shorter every day.
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