Frankly speaking, I have no religion per se but like the majority brought up in this country, I was brought-up Roman Catholic and all the traditions and morés that that entails. Regardless of what it is, if your religion is a central or a valuable aspect in your life, live it well then. I feel though that it should not define the individual. Rather, it is we who should define it.
Over the years I have been influenced by the nuances of Zen, Taoism, Hinduism, aspects of Islam and snippets from other beliefs, even the mind-boggling frontiers of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics (of what little I could understand of it of course). I then decided to involve myself in spirituality which has always been a journey of sorts. A spiritual journey that has taken many since long ago to venture far-off for a while, yet the return to oneself has always been the destination.
Spirituality and its pursuit has always been a matter of one’s faith and not religion. Religion is nothing more than a human societal construct called an institution. As with many other institutions, it develops and matures only as man does. It is restricted to man’s continual evolution or devolution, as history has time and again proven. Religious institutions since time immemorial have tried to preach that their way was the only way, of reducing everyone distinctly as believers and infidels, of “us” who know the way to salvation and “them” who don’t. Even now, wars and conflicts are still being fought over it.
Unlike religion though, faith is a matter of personal expression to the divine and it should be far bigger than what your religion expects you to do. Religion prescribes, your faith is your own. Religion excludes, faith considers. Religion bounds, faith liberates. Religion divides, faith integrates and unifies. As religion only asks the question, your faith is your response. Don’t let religion get in the way of you knowing God. Furthermore, do not let the idea of "God" get in the way of you BEING.
It seems that a poignant reality of humanity is that it looks at the world narrowly thru an unfortunate orientation; himself. Think about it, why do we anthromorphize things, living or otherwise, around us? Why do we name our modes of transport, usually with a woman’s name? Why do we try to talk to them even though we know they do not have the facility of language or comprehension? Why do we “see” our apparent likeness in the randomness of everything? At one extreme, why do we imbue human attributes to our pets, treating them like human children?
After all, can you blame Leonardo da Vinci, one of humanity’s greatest thinkers, to come up with this idea, as if haughtily raising himself (man) “as the measure of all things”?
If we are to consider the universal concept of God as the “supreme being”, I believe this would be an awkward endeavor. Though supreme, he would still be but a mere “being” leading once again to our natural disposition of trying to define the personhood of God. This is “embodied” in the familiar and often baffling Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity who are/is comprised of “three persons in one God”. After all, isn’t a person something we could all relate to? This person would, as expected, be framed within our familiar reference of the images of a father, shepherd, judge, law-giver, provider, etc. Again, mere aspects of man “himself”.
God is not actually a “He” or even a “She” as espoused by some, like the early Christian Gnostics. We can not reduce God into a being. If we are to believe that God is everything we hope “It” to be, it can not be appeased by prayer. It can not be bribed or bought by good works. It can not be jealous or insecure with our lesser attempts of worship. It can not be prodded to choose just one side and disregard the other. It does not reward eternity only to its faithful ones and render harsh judgment on those who have no belief in it. It does not make distinctions between great or small, major or minor. God is far above all these lesser attributes and emotions we have rendered upon it. As Lao Tzu who was dazzled by the dao said: "Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs".
Attempting to define God is a lost cause, virtually impossible by the mere reckoning of our limited intellect. Regrettably, it is our frail knowledge that attempts to bring its understanding towards us when it is we who should come to it. God is the source (Alpha) and conclusion (Omega) of everything. Thus, to know God is to be one with God.
If we are to believe in the idea that there is some great, noble purpose for our lives, it would be seeking to return and be united with the absolute of God. As the Hindu sages have taught us, we being the small spark of “atman”, the individual self, must return to the great immutable fire of the “Brahman” or the great self. It is then a matter of aligning or attuning ourselves to that greater frequency, of allowing ourselves to go with the flow of the great river and just as Islam’s true meaning would move us to do: to submit or surrender ourselves to God.
Ultimately, I would want for “God” to be irrelevant and unnecessary. As an act of great evolution by our species, we need to transcend this current idea of who God is into something much, much more.