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Religion - a distraction from religious experience?

I can't help wondering if religion too often gets in the way of religious experience.

Sitting in the garden today, feet touching the earth, sun touching skin, a soft breeze, and the rustle of leaves in my ears, I felt at one with life. I also felt my 'self' dissolve into life. The sense of freedom that came with that was quite remarkable. And with that freedom from ego came a deep sense of communion with what religious people might call God (a name which, simply for convenience, I will continue to use in this article, but I do so reluctantly and with no religious bias).

But this was no God from a book, no jealous, demanding, judgmental deity issuing commandments and threatening damnation, distant and remote from creation.

This 'God' was immanent in creation and, therefore, immanent in me, and you, and everyone and everything, because we are all part of creation and, therefore, all part of 'God' - every one of us, every cell of us, every atom, every thought …

The gift of taking the time to just sit

A smile broke out across my lips the other day: the answer was so simple - and I didn't have to go anywhere to find it.

I was sitting in the garden - just sitting. Not "meditating" as such - at least, not deliberately, but I think it could be described broadly as meditation.

There I was, eyes closed, relaxed, one hand resting in the other, palms open to the sky, thumbs gently resting against each other, the one supporting the other without effort, warm sunlight soaking through the pores of my skin, caressed by the soft breath of a gentle breeze. In my ears were the sounds of children at play and birds singing - one song rising above the others in my awareness. Then it passed and another took its place, then another, fading again into an awareness of the breeze kissing my cheek, and the sunlight soaking deep into the core of my being.

Thoughts came and went, but they were distant, as if spoken far away. I knew they were there like I might know there are clouds in the sky …

Age of the magician

The age of the priest and the spiritual follower is nearing its end; we are entering the age of the magician, the alchemist, the scientist. But this is not the crude, mechanical scientist of the early Enlightenment; rather it is the more refined spiritual scientist, working on an almost mystical and esoteric level where philosophy/religion and science meet.

In astrological terms, we have spent the last 2,000 years or so learning to be fish, following religious (or political) leaders, immersing ourselves in whichever teachings carry us along, unaware of any other world but the waters in which we swim, unthinkingly switching directions according to the hopes, fears and demands of the tribe, nation or society we find ourselves in.

Now, from being immersed in water, we learn to become the water carriers, the directors of our streams of consciousness, of natural processes, of spiritual awakening. Emerging from the womb waters of the Piscean age, we are born into the empowering Aquarian wo…