Beliefnet
Project Conversion

Okay, I finally have internet back up and running. What a week!

Today begins the last week of our month with the Zarathushtis and because the last few days were a little spastic in terms of blog posts, I thought I would provide some background/updates.

Project Conversion has become a refuge for the unexpected. Each month seems to have its own surprise to either challenge or illumine the faiths to which I belong and this month is no exception. In fact, as many of you are aware, March has been particularly challenging. This challenge with the faith (remember the post on conversion?) was punctuated by the recent purchase of our new home. If you’ve ever purchased a home or even just moved from one place to another, you are aware of the upheaval involved. As with many faiths, a devotee grows accustomed to certain rituals, practices, and methods that identify them with their faith throughout the day. Once we began the move, which also included some renovation of the new place, all forms of ritual went out the window. Prayers and meditation, once practiced early in the morning and for long periods, were snatched up like meals at a drive-through: quick and efficient, though not entirely healthy.

Taking a break from sanding floors and painting to read the Gathas

 

This snatch-and-grab method of spirituality produced some interesting results. I was (still am) already in a weakened spiritual state due to my struggles with connecting to the faith. Now, with the advent of a new home purchase, everything was pushed even further back. Every action was rushed; I was going through the motions. The “old”, pre-Project Conversion Andrew rose to the surface. The sacred Zarathushti ember I had struggled to keep alive slowly grew cold.

Spirituality turned into religion.

The rush of life combined with the sectarian/philosophical conflicts within the faith have bombarded the foundations I’ve built thus far…and I’m still assessing the damage. But all of this forced me to consider the nature of religion in our lives. For two months I had completely transformed and felt closer to the divine than ever before–and in new ways. Now, I’m struggling to keep afloat. Look at your own spiritual lives and those of your religious community. How often are we distracted by the rush of life and the superficial aspects like dogma, ritual, and tenets? The evidence is everywhere in the form of denomination formation and sectarian violence. These are the factors that separate us from the divine and from one another. My worry about doing the right prayer at the right time, about believing/following a method in a specific way removed me from the ultimate focus: my individual relationship to the spiritual. Process trumped relationship.

This is the seed of our separation…from everything. I had forgotten what Zarathushtra taught me about living life to its fullest and the balance between living and my relationship with the divine. If saying a prayer in the presence of an open flame isn’t practical because you are in the middle of painting, don’t sweat it. Take a break and recite a short passage from the Gathas outside in the fresh air, or say the prayer to yourself, focusing on the divine spark (the fravashi) within us all.

I’m sorry. This post kinda took a life of its own, as I intended to talk about other things as well, but I think these issues are important. So often we get wrapped up in the methods of our religion that we forget what they are there for to begin with: to relate to the divine. Again and again Zarathushtra spoke against superstition and useless ritual. Many of his contemporaries preached the same message. When will we shed the garb of tired, stale ritual and simply tend the fires within us?

Tomorrow’s post: A follow-up to “A Gift to my Mentor