Thursday, December 04, 2008

Doing It Your Own Way?

To those newbies who are not drawn to an individual religion, but rather hold a plethora of beliefs and opinions, I have often seen the advice given; just do what feels right for you.

Generally, I think this is a good thing to say, as it encompasses the idea that you shouldn’t embark on any religious journey unless it sits right with you. Therefore, a lot of thought has to be done beforehand. I’m sure some over-enthusiastic newbies find themselves jumping in at the deep end--for example, undergoing a ritual of self-dedication before they even fully know what it is they’re dedicating themselves to (I think I was one such newbie).

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the advice of doing what feels right for you. I’m wondering whether some may take this to mean ‘you can do whatever the hell you want’, and whether or not some people who give this advice actually mean it this way. Whenever I have given this advice (or received this advice) I have always taken it to mean…within limits. One such limit being the fact that one needs to be aware that it is not appreciated if you call yourself a name in use by another group and yet your practices are completely different. This has been known to cause confusion and anger, on both sides. I’m not saying that therefore said person has no right to this name, but rather they must realize that this term is in usage and should not claim sole ownership of it. I know I’m reiterating here, as this example in particular has come up on TC before.

Basically, I want to ask what you think the dangers (for lack of a better word) are when a person embarks on their religious path with the intent of doing it their own way. When someone wishes to ‘mix and match’ beliefs and practices from various religious traditions it is bound to cause offense to someone, somewhere. How do you think is the best way to try to avoid this?

Also, a more general question, do you think we have the right to such mixing and matching of traditions?

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