Do Your Beliefs Define You?

No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and host of Ovation’s Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, brought up a new idea when she asked him, “What is belief?” He answered, “Identity.”

I’ve spent my life sifting through various religions and philosophies in search of what I truly believe. From the time I was introduced to the Catholic Church, I’ve been trying to determine what is real for me. It didn’t do me much good to sit through a mass delivered in Latin if I didn’t understand the language. My high school didn’t even teach Latin. I only knew a deity that demanded obedience or else. No matter how well behaved I was I didn’t experience enlightenment.

I was born on Native American soil while being of European lineage. I got in trouble if I asked the priests or nuns about the differences in belief systems. Who was right? Like most people, I was in search of “the truth.”

If belief is identity, I didn’t know who I was for most of my life. I know now (or think I do), but what if you don’t? Are you void of identity if you don’t know what you really believe? I don’t think so. You just don’t know how to define it with clarity. Doesn’t mean that you don’t know your own mind.

When you ask a Jewish person “who” or “what” they are, they will generally respond with their religion instead of a nationality. “I’m a Jew.” I’m not sure any other group of people does this with as much conviction. Ask an Irishman the same question and he will identify regionally. I’ve always been a blend of several varieties like table wine. I’m not comfortable with labeling my belief system as any one thing. If I had to, I’d call it Open. Open to all systems of belief, understanding that even through our differences we share common ground.

There’s the old “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” line. But being spiritual is not the same as believing in a deity. In my view, I am a spirit living in a human body. Being human is the perspective from which I view the world. As much as I can identify with other species, I am human and cannot view life from any other perspective. Just as the humans who penned all the religious texts on the planet. They identified their beliefs in human terminology, including their gods. Does this perspective define me? Of course it does. What I believe about everything defines me: business, politics, art, morality, etc. Stir all those things into a pot and you have a souffle as unique as the human who made it.

At last week’s RiverRun Film Festival, the film Heavenly Nomadic told the story of a dying culture of horse people who, when the leader of the clan died, killed his horse to go with him to the next life. Talk about a defining belief system. Indigenous people honor elements in nature, especially animals.

I adored this film by the way.

I envy Aslan’s ability to clearly articulate my own understanding. If you are as fascinated by belief systems and other world views as I am, check out his books as well as the series Oprah Winfrey produced last year called Belief, and Morgan Freeman’s current series running on the National Geographic channel, The Story of God.

Cover artBelief

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Could You Face Your Former Self?

 

 

 

  The Dumas Hotel

The first episode of the new season of The Dead Files was an eye-opener. It was the first time I have seen an encounter with a living person who is presumed to be the reincarnation of the previous owner of the premises being investigated.

Dark things were happening to and around the current owner of The Dumas Hotel that had been a brothel for 92 years. His personality changed and he would lose time. A concerned friend contacted The Dead Files duo for help.

After researching the history of the property, a photograph of the original owner/builder was revealed. And the resemblance was uncanny, especially his eyes. The client looked like he could have been this man’s grandson. Yet, medium Amy Allen said the words,”This is you.” After her partner Steve’s neck cracked when he turned to her, she went on to say that when the original owner died, his soul had been fractured.

Now reincarnated, the owner has found his way back to the property and begun renovation and restoration, feeling a strange attachment to the building. But he never knew why. He was eerily calm about seeing his former face in the photo and said he felt relieved as if a weight had been lifted.

I can’t imagine feeling relieved to discover I had built a bordello where women were abused, forced into having abortions, or selling their children. Or that people around me had witnessed a metamorphosis in my personality when I was there.

Reincarnation is a phenomenon that you either believe or don’t. But if you do, you probably assume that you come back with your soul intact. But the soul can be whittled apart into pieces through trauma, aggression, and other emotional distress. Every energy exchange between two people can open the opportunity to take or leave soul fragments. This brings up a concern for me.

If I have reincarnated more than once, how many of my soul’s fragments are still out there somewhere? What if a big chunk of me is collecting dust in some dilapidated old silver mine? Pacing around a suburban culdesac that was once a battlefield? Or hanging around an Interstate highway where my old trading post once stood? Does that mean I’m walking around incomplete? Missing an important part of myself?

Amy’s advice to the client was to have a Reiki master absorb the fractured piece so that it could be healed and moved on.She did not get into what happened after that. But I know that fragment can be retrieved the help of a healer or shaman. He might not feel complete without it.