The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
My primary faith tradition is LDS. I grew up Mormon and still consider myself one, albeit of the progressive unorthodox variety. I love the emphasis on the family. Family home evenings occur once a week where families takes a night off to be together. The doctrine of eternal marriage means that there is the hope of being together forever with the ones you love after death...our relationships continue. I love the Book of Mormon it teaches about Jesus and the principles he espoused in the New Testament through a more American lens. I have been taught to live clean: sexually, physically, drug free and I think my body and mind have benefited. The LDS church and its members do so much good in their own communities both for members and non. It is especially an American Church and as such in many ways it is very individualistic and personal. Mormons believe that each human being can receive divine personal revelation to guide them throughout their lives. Along with the personal revelation is the idea of a "Heavenly Father" and less emphasized Heavenly Mother who care for us all as their beloved children, rejoice in our successes and mourn our sufferings.
This is the faith that I have most grown into as an adult coupled with my unique brand of LDS/Christianity, here are some reasons why I love Buddhism. It has taught me to love and appreciate all living things not just humans and shown me that we are all interconnected. Where Christianity planted the seeds of charity Buddhism has helped develop the fruit of compassion for all. It has brought a measure of contentment into my life and learning that materialism, consumption and things outside myself do not bring lasting happiness. It has helped me learn to improve this life for myself and others with less concern on the unknowable next life. I love how Buddhism and psychology/counseling can work hand in hand. I love that there is no concept of guilt but rather analyzing our actions/thoughts/words as skillful or harmful and then adjusting accordingly. It has helped me begin to train my inner world using meditation along with prayer. I'll close this section with one of favorite mental refrains, the "Divine Abodes":
• Mettā: May you be free from danger and harm. May you be happy, free from mental distress. May you be healthy, free from illness and pain. May you live with ease.
• Karuṇā: May you be free from suffering. May you be at peace.
• Muditā: May your good fortune and success continue. May your happiness never end.
• Upekkhā: May all beings abide in equanimity free from attachment or hatred.
I stumbled upon Unitarian Universalism the first time after using the Belief-o-matic (fun and educational!) and finding it to be my number one match (my wife was a liberal Quaker). I love that the UUs accept all. Nobody will ever go there and feel like that they do not belong because of their race, belief (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, education/income level or anything else. I enjoy how all are encouraged to build their own theology using whatever tools, beliefs, traditions etc. most resonate. It is a religion that is never at odds with scientific consensus. Sermons and discussions often fall upon climate change and social justice two topics that drive my spiritual heart. It espouses activism and very much the idea that "we must be the change we want to see in the world."
This was my first experience with liberal Christianity and I loved it. It is full of the worship and ritual that one may find at more conservative sects combined with viewpoints and conversations of a more progressive flavor. When I lived in the small town of Cedar City, UT going to school for my Bachelor's degree I would attend weekly when they would open their doors and feed as many poor college students as would walk through their doors. These meals were preceded by an interfaith Bible Study that I really looked forward to attending each and every week and was even privileged to lead a few times. I grew to trust and love my first female pastor there and realized gender has nothing to do with feeding souls (or mouths).
I am grateful for the myriad of cultures, peoples and experiences that fill this Earth with diverse teachings and connections to the Divine. I will close with two guiding verses from Buddhism and Mormonism that remind me to always be a seeker and to find truth wherever it may be. First the Bodhisattva vow (not the one by the Beastie Boys)
Countless sentient beings, I vow to help to cross the ocean of existence.
Eternal Sufferings, I vow to end.
Innumerable spiritual methods, I vow to study and comprehend.
The buddha's unsurpassable supreme dharma, I vow to realize.
Finally, the 13th article of Faith by Joseph Smith:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul--We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Thank you as always for reading and I would love to hear what aspects of man's search for the divine you have found the most meaningful in your life.