When you live in a homogeneous religious culture, sudden spiritual experiences can leave you out of step with all that you know.
A young man in his late teens wrote me from Egypt. He has recently had some very powerful spiritual experiences that have expanded his consciousness, and also left him feeling confused. He suddenly finds himself feeling alienated from his culture and traditions…basically, everything around him.
Growing up in the urban West Coast, I did not have the experience of living in a single faith community where religion is also your identity. Everyone was doing their own thing.
Enlightenment erases the conditioning of religious concepts. There is simply no more interest in or concern with ideas such as sin, heaven or even God. However, having powerful spiritual experiences that severely test religious or cultural conditioning without completely severing the bonds can leave you in an awkward and confusing place, trying to reconcile your direct experience with a tradition or belief that opposes it. Especially in a place that leaves no room for difference, when the consequence is losing your place in your family, community and perhaps even your country. Or, worse.
Have any of you had such an experience, awakening within a family or community with very strong religious beliefs?
image: a moth on my bedroom window