True North, Spirituality and Religion

Summer Sun Tree

Last week, I shared about my personal “true north,” which is rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition. But I realize many people have been disappointed by traditional religion so instead they look to simplified versions of Eastern philosophies or other alternative approaches for finding guidance and meaning in life. But do these approaches work?


by David Spinks on Flickr

Shallow “New Age” Philosophy, Watered down Ancient Religion

I thought the following insights by Kathleen Brady of Career Planners were worth sharing. She wrote a though-provoking piece about the way in which contemporary spirituality and self-help borrow from many traditional religions but tend to water-down and secularize these belief systems. She poses the possibility that perhaps our lack of depth in these traditions is partially responsible for the fact that we still can’t find what we’re seeking.

… it strikes me that if we made a little effort, we could learn more about our faith and find the secret that will allow our inner and outer selves to be as one… Why reinvent the wheel?” she asks.

Meaningful Action, Not Just Nice-sounding Words

In borrowing bits and pieces from different religions and faith traditions, we lose a lot of the nuance and synergy of ideas in each tradition. Our understanding of them is too shallow. What if we stopped searching for the “right” set of ideas, and instead focussed our effort on deepening our understanding of the ideas we already have in front of us? It seems possible that the search for improvement is often focussed on finding the “right” words, but maybe we need to simply focus on taking more meaningful action in our lives. As a Catholic Christian, it’s a challenge to live my faith. I struggle to understand the teachings, and then have to work to incorporate the guiding principles to help orient my decision making and behaviors. For myself, the discipline of a religious practice enriches and deepens my spirituality.


“lighthouse” by Susana Fernandez on Flickr

What about you? Did you grow up with a traditional faith that you found lacking? What turned you away? Would you consider returning to your religious practice to rediscover a deeper faith? Could those principles, wrested with, actually be your “true north,” life-guiding principles?

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