After I left Christianity, I was certain the Eastern religions and New Age were entirely religious bullshit. Spirituality seemed to be more of the same: religious delusions and manipulations cloaked in different lingo. But to my utter shock and amazement, these spiritualities are nothing like western religion. There’s something real, tangible, measurable, and repeatable behind it all–almost scientific in some regards. They’re often based on experience of reality, approaching life and the universe from an experiential perspective by engaging it through consciousness–using tools like meditation, psychedelics, reflection, and other means. This is nothing like religious dogma, which is based on made-up stories and ideas we mostly know to be scientifically false or erroneous. Religious dogma is based on believing someone else’s authority, whereas these traditions call you to encounter reality for yourself. They provide counsel and ideas around your experiencing, but never approach anything like a tight-fisted narrow-minded grip of does-and-don’ts rules and laws about how everything is. These ideologies couch spiritual wisdom in symbolism and metaphor, taking great pains to carefully avoid the dogmatism that is religion’s death knell to spirituality. These kinds of spiritual experiences are sending shockwaves of seismic change through our culture, technology, pharmacology, and spirituality. Surely, there is a lot of fluff, BS, and manipulative teachings that’s come alongside it all, and I’m not calling anyone to buy in to Hinduism or Buddhism–yet these traditions do hold immense amounts of experiential wisdom, and are perhaps worth taking more seriously. My mind is blown constantly; I know I must study these things. Already, yoga, meditation, psychedelic medicine, and Buddhist philosophy have completely transformed my mental health and sense of joy and fulfillment in life. I see life in ultra-vivid colors; I am alive with joy and life energy. My eyesight and imagination are tangibly more bright and colorful; it’s something else! I have never felt younger or more in tune with myself and the world. I owe much or most of this to these spiritual tools and traditions I know I’m only beginning to touch. I’m grateful for my religious fundamentalist past, because the contrast of religion with its opposite (spirituality) has enabled me to enjoy a much richer and deeper perspective. I feel as if I am standing back and observing my life almost as a casual participant, watching it unfold with amazement. I know my religious friends from my past would yearn for me to go back into that system of spiritual slavery that is religion, but how I wish they could experience the wonders I encounter regularly. I look forward to integrating the insights of psychology and spirituality more as my career in spiritual research continues to unfold.
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