I was brought up in a Christian household. Both my father and mother were Baptist, firm believers in the Ten Commandments and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Though not overtly religious, we went to church every Sunday, said grace before we ate and our prayers before going to bed, had a family Bible and learned popular verses from it. While my mother was diligent in churchgoing, my father went occasionally. He was a chauffer and because of the nature of his work, his time was not his own. When he did go to church, as soon as he sat down, he’d fall asleep.
As I grew older, in my teens, I was active in church mostly because of friendships and the social activities – young peoples’ choir for one. Suddenly aware of the machinations, hypocrisy among church members, the usual sorts of things that go on whenever and wherever numbers of people gather, I dismissed church as a social club, much to my mother’s dismay, and in my early twenties abandoned church altogether though the beliefs I grew up with were firmly planted in me. After moving across the country with my young husband who was raised as an Episcopalian, I attended his church infrequently. For the most part, we considered ourselves agnostics in search of a deeper meaning to life.
During the late sixties, when eastern religions became popular, we were drawn to them exploring their philosophy superficially. We attended Alan Watts talks and explored the Bahia faith and communal living. However it was J. Kristnamurti who had the most profound effect on us. We sat at his meetings whenever he came to the Santa Monica Auditorium, traveled to Ohai to hear him, bought his books and tapes, and tried to put into practice all that he spoke about. I came to believe that in order to be a whole person, I must recognize the duality in which we all live that allows us to commit violence against one another, and the conflicts that drive our lives caused largely by inattentiveness and judgment.
I have returned to the church and I try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In them I find comfort. What my mother told me when I dismissed the church as a social club I’ve come to understand and accept. She said, “You go for your salvation. It doesn’t matter what others do.” My family’s teachings resonate throughout my life. And I find that what I learned from listening to Kristnamurti and studying the teachings of Christ are not in conflict. I try to be attentive and to walk without judgment, and I try to treat others as I would like them to treat me. I try to love as Jesus did. It is not always easy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.