This blog will be up for a long time so I might as well get this “issue” out of the way this early.
Between my habit of dropping F-bombs and PI-bombs and my ever-present “skull” pin, it’s not apparent that I consider myself a religious person. I’m a practicing Roman Catholic, and I just came home from a 6pm anticipated mass.
Don’t worry, I am not going to preach about my religion in this post. We’ll just look at one of the more pragmatic ways of looking at religion, namely, how it can apply to your personal growth.
Note that while this post can be applicable to atheists and agnostics, it may not be applicable to people from extremely strict religions. If your god dictates what you must do every second of your life without fail, I would suggest that you don’t go beyond the cut below.
One of the main reasons why I still practice my religion even though I am a skeptic and a pragmatist is because it’s the easiest way for me to find and reinforce my purpose in life as well as my principles in life.
The term “purpose” should be self-explanatory. The term “principle” might require some explanation. Basically, it’s the limits to what I can do for my purpose. My purpose in life may be to become the richest person in the world, but it is up to my principles to decide whether killing everyone in the world is a legal option.
People familiar with GTD should know why it’s important to know or at least have an idea about one’s purpose and principles — it is the first step in planning out your life. Without knowing what you want to do with your life and what you’re willing to do to achieve it, it is unlikely that you will get anywhere without significant thrashing.
Religion provides a good starting point to find your purpose and principles. It’s because… well… most religions are based on purpose and principles. For example, the purpose in life for a Christian is to be able to go to Heaven, while the main principle is The New Commandment.
The problem with just leaving things up to religion (and blind faith in general) is that it’s unlikely that all of a religion’s teachings are applicable to every person. The point here is that your religion should just be a starting point. As you go through life, you may have to revise your purpose and principles accordingly. I personally think that if your purpose and principles don’t evolve (level up? :P) based on your experiences, you’re simply living someone else’s life (because it’s not your own purpose and principles).
Aside from being a good starting point for finding one’s purpose and principles, religion can also reinforce them. By “reinforce”, I mean that you have some way to regularly check whether your purpose and principles have strayed too far from your religion’s core ideas. This could be in the form of priests, scripture or other text related to your religion, other members of your religion, etc.
If you’ve realized that you’ve strayed too far, you could either correct your purpose and principles, or you could decide whether to stay in your religion, or (my personal favorite) stick to your guns and just not give a damn. Any choice is ok; this is just to prepare you for any possible future conflicts related to how your personal beliefs are at odds with your religion. It’s going to be messy, but at least you’re prepared for the consequences of your actions.
For atheists and agnostics, the approach is similar but it would require more thinking. One’s belief can still be used as a starting point for finding one’s purpose and principles by asking questions like “Why don’t I believe in/care about deities? Can these reasons help me decide my purpose?” or “What are my moral boundaries considering that I don’t believe in a higher/lower plane of existence?” Without the same reinforcement avenues as religion, one must also decide whether to have a written set of principles (to make sure he/she does not stray from them) or just ditch it and live life with constantly changing principles (might be dangerous depending on the person).
Okay, so I finally got that out of the way. I promise that the future posts will be “secular” in nature. :P