Religious Lives and Spiritual Quests

In expanding your search for spiritual awareness, how can you be sure you are heading in a direction that is best for you?

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The Garden of Eden as a Metaphor for Today

The story of the Garden of Eden is considered by many as evidence of man’s fall from grace and need for forgiveness because he dared seek knowledge of good and evil, taking upon himself a privilege the powerful, all-knowing God didn’t want him to have. Taken a step farther, however, you can also view the story as a metaphor for a basic conflict of the human condition.

You can choose to remain in the garden in obedience to the rules of the house, so to speak, maintain your innocence, and the authorities will give you the gift of happiness and immortality. No work required. No need to struggle with questions of what to believe. No troublesome working through of complex issues. Read More

An Agnostic’s Encounter with God, Part 4

This post was originally an article on the Support4Change website. Because if its length, it has been broken up into 4 parts, and posted on Thursdays. Begin with Part 1.

This personal story describes the gradual movement from religious faith to agnosticism to spiritual awareness.

Searching for the Meaning of My Experience

Shortly after the book was mysteriously dropped on the floor, I had an appointment with a wonderful therapist, Chris Varnes. Telling her about the experience, I told her I was sure there was a logical explanation I haven’t yet thought of, for surely reason dictated I not accept this as a “sign” of a spirit. That would just be weird. (I had, and still do, an aversion to appearing “weird.”)

Her response helped set me on the path to exploring these phenomena as “spiritual” events. She said, “Arlene, it’s true that you could take two hours and give me every reason why you should dismiss these knocks and moved objects. But let’s imagine they represent something to which you ARE supposed to pay attention. How would you go about exploring what it all means?” Read More

An Agnostic’s Encounter with God, Part 3

This post was originally an article on the Support4Change website. Because if its length, it has been broken up into 4 parts, and posted on Thursdays. Begin with Part 1.

This personal story describes the gradual movement from religious faith to agnosticism to spiritual awareness.

Who’s That Knocking on My Floor?

In the years after I first learned about Psychosynthesis, I met many people of different faiths. For the most part I couldn’t distinguish between them based on their outward appearance or behavior. Wonderfully kind and generous individuals were sincere atheists, questioning agnostics, and devote Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of assorted other faiths and philosophies. Narcissistic, overbearing, unpleasant characters espoused a variety of religious beliefs, often fervently.

There was something, however, that struck me as perhaps an important distinction between people. Some people walked through life with an extra measure of grace, peace and calm. As I got to know them, I discovered their genuine love for others and sense of self-confidence arose from a connection with a “power” greater than themselves that they referred to by a variety of terms, but which essentially was “Spirit.” It was a genuine connection that seemed to make a difference. “Belief” in a personal God — without the experience of that connection — wasn’t enough. Yet even Buddhists who claimed there was “nothing” out there seemed, to me, to be gently different because they were in touch with who they were at their core. Read More

An Agnostic’s Encounter with God, Part 2

This post was originally an article on the Support4Change website. Because if its length, it has been broken up into 4 parts, and posted on Thursdays. Begin with Part 1.

This personal story describes the gradual movement from religious faith to agnosticism to spiritual awareness.

Preparing a Path for Spirit to Enter

Without benefit of church or faith, for many years I focused on raising my family. Along the way I ran into many problems that perfectionists like myself tend to create in their lives and went through lots of therapy, both individual therapy and a variety of growth groups, all of which helped me deal with my issues of control and low self-esteem.

However, it was especially when I studied Psychosynthesis, a holistic approach to human growth and development, that the seeds of a spiritual experience were planted. This school of psychology was developed in the middle of the last century by the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assogioli. And since the term “psychosynthesis” refers to the “psyche” or self and to “synthesis” or integration, you might say it is a method for getting your act together or integrating the self. Here is how Eva Fugitt, teacher and author of He Hit Me Back First!, describes it: Read More

An Agnostic’s Encounter With God, Part 1

This post was originally an article on the Support4Change website. Because if its length, it will be broken up into 4 parts, and posted over the next 4 Thursdays.

This personal story describes the gradual movement from religious faith to agnosticism to spiritual awareness.

Exploring What the Word “God” Means

I was a preacher’s kid. Raised in the Lutheran church, I belonged to Luther League when I was a teenager, attended the fine Lutheran college of Wittenberg in Ohio, and came to California as a parish worker for a Lutheran church. My first two children were baptized in that church. But like a number of preacher’s kids I’ve known, I left the church in which I was raised.

By the time our twins were born I had begun questioning the precepts on which my beliefs were based. It started with trying to understand just what people meant when they referred to God. I knew it wasn’t possible to get my mind around the concept of an all-powerful, all-encompassing, ever-present being, whether one called it “God” or some other name. But I tried. Read More