A seed of the idea for this blog, and the adventure I am on, came from a friend's wedding a few years back. Ideas had been floating around, but being surrounded by great friends seems to give me the burst of mojo required to connect dots that I know well, but which haven't met each other. How I have spoken about it, what I have pictured, and what I have done has evolved, but it started with the 'Board of Happiness Inc.' The thread that connected it all was my excitement level jumped a few notches, and a sparkle came to my eye when I started to talk about it.
I had started Yoga shortly before that which had got me thinking more deeply about what well being really is. There is also a well known link between religion (whatever one) and happiness. A big part of that link is the community spirit that is created. As a kid, I used to go to Church every Sunday morning, evening, or both. On Friday nights I would go to Youth Group. I was (unsurprisingly) quite the recruiter as well, trying to convince people that Youth Group was a brilliant place to start the weekend. One fellow was unfortunate enough to be stuck with me at Art Club, which was on a Friday after school. Despite being Hindu, he was elbow deep in clay and trapped so I persistently tried to convince him that he would still really enjoy getting involved. I think many of my school buddies must have got justifiably annoyed.
The question I later had was 'Can you do the good stuff of religion without religion?'. What Yoga does really well is have places in the city that you can go to regularly, and places outside of the city you can go to renew your energy levels. Churches do the places in the city well too. What most religious place provide is a setting to discuss things that matter to people. There are people there willing to listen. The challenge comes when the stories clash and groups start to splinter. I think this can partly be resolved by allowing people a 'Bull Quota'. You don't have to agree with everything someone says if you treat it like you treat a novel. Rather than shooting down and finding holes and inconsistencies, you listen to the tale and savour whatever beauty it unleashes. We can still get together regularly to learn. We can still get away together to renew our energy.
Yogic Philosophy says that God can not be adequately described. Each person has their own way of understanding the world having come at it from a completely different angle. God, as you understand God, is your Ishvara. Your way of describing God is the closest (but not perfect or complete) you can get to it. This is consistent with the Protestant division of the Christian Church which also believes in personal relationship with God. It also happens to be consistent with my beliefs. I do not believe in a theistic God. I believe in relationships that matter. I believe in the arts - stories, music, drama, dance, our ability to create things of beauty and meaning. I believe in the ability of Science to understand the tools we have to create meaning with. I believe in wonder and awe. I believe in learning.