People ask me if I “believe in all this stuff.”  To which I reply, ‘why do I need to believe it.  It either is or it isn’t and my believing it doesn’t effect that in any way.  I experience what I do, it has positive results, and people have the ability to live better lives because of it.’ Which causes a bit of consternation, because as a culture modernity has come to believe that anything having to do with spirituality or religion requires belief.  But, personally, I don’t find that to be the case and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

I came across an interesting perspective the other day.  Karen Armstrong, in her writings on Christianity and other monotheistic religions found that Christianity is one of the few where belief is actually the main focus.  In general, belief in the writings in the Bible is required, in one form or another, in order to be considered Christian.  Which can create quite a dilemma when you consider that very few Christian people are able to read the Bible in its original languages, of which there are several, and rare are the translations provided from the source material.  However, even then, considering that it is assumed that the time of miracles has ended and this is now the era of faith, there can be no proofs or anything physical and so everything comes down to belief.

Intersecting this has been the industrial revolution and the emergence of science and scientific principles as well as the concept of ‘Separation of Church and State’ which has removed experience of the numinous even further from the practical world than ever before.  Belief becomes almost a physical exercise in this time period of scientific discovery and skepticism.  However, other monotheistic religions don’t see belief as their main motivator.  At a very high level, Judaism holds doing good works to be the highest form of spirituality.  Upholding the law in your actions, in your thoughts, in your choices is key and all men are required to actively study and participate in conscious formation of their beliefs through study of the Torah and all the commentaries and laws.

Islam sees politics (the ways in which human beings live together) as their reason detre. Living a good life not only for yourself and for your family, but for your community and for the entirety of Islam is the goal and in unison creating a culture which holds to the highest ideals of Islam as outlined in the Koran is the pinnacle of spiritual attainment this life can hold.  Buddhism too seeks enlightenment through action, both internal and external.  One doesn’t need to have faith, but to have patience, willingness, and forgiveness.  Actions allow for harmony with the world around you both in accepting what comes to you and in acting the best way as you inhabit your space.

Being Native American I am privileged to come from a culture that values individual experience while providing a framework of community and tradition.   The uniqueness of each person is valued and each is encouraged to explore their spirituality in all it’s diversity.  Part of what I have come to know I am now making available to the public through readings and presenting in classes to the public so they can share in tools and techniques that can help them live a happy and fulfilling life.  So if I believe anything, it’s that life is a good place and through sharing we can make it even better, but I think that what I do is much more important that what I believe.  So I won’t ask what you believe…instead “What is it you do?”