I got an email recently from a concerned fellow. He wrote: “Erin, I’ve been reading your articles for quite some time, and a lot of what you say about the afterlife makes sense to me, but some of what you write goes against the Bible. My religion teaches me that I must reject you and your teachings as heretical. I am conflicted, because my heart tells me you are correct but my religion teaches me that you are wrong. I do not know what to believe. Can you help me?”
I’ve received hundreds of such emails. Sometimes people are polite like this guy, and sometimes people just attack me, tell me I work for the Devil and that I should die. But the flavor of the emails is the same… how to reconcile spiritual beliefs that go against religious doctrine.
What I like to tell people is that there is a difference between religion and spirituality.
Religion is handed to you in a neat little package. It tells you what to believe, how to behave, and what happens if you don’t follow proper religious procedure. It leaves little room for free thought, little room for experiential learning. Perhaps that’s comforting to many, not to have to form their own views of the world and the universe. I know people who are very happy in the clearly defined confines of their religion.
Spirituality, however, forms from your own personal experiences. It is developed over time as you move through the world. It seeps into you as you encounter people and situations, and have experiences. Your connection to Source and the universe emerges organically. There are no rules, no rigidity, no doctrine.
There is no right or wrong choice between religion and spirituality. It’s okay to believe whatever you want to believe. You can be religious and spiritual.
But when you have an experience that does not fit your religious beliefs you will become confused and in many cases distressed.
For example, I was doing a reading for a client and he said, “My mother passed away recently I know she is in hell because she sinned and cannot be in Heaven. I cannot sleep worried about the tortures she is experiencing. I don’t think I can cope with the idea that she is eternally damned.”
I was able to bring his mother through during the reading and she reassured him that she was not in hell and she provided many details from her life that only she and her son would know. For a moment my client had hope, “Oh my gosh,” he said, “could she really be in heaven? Is she really okay?”
Then he fell back onto his religion and said, “I am sorry, Erin, I think you are channeling the Devil and he is tricking me into thinking my mother is okay when she is not.”
It was a tough reading because I had to leave this man in a tortured state; I could not help him relax about his mother’s fate.
Even now, some people reading this article will agree with the man that I get my abilities from the Devil, and some people will be sad that he cannot see she is alright on the other side.
I feel that our Creator lives inside each of us, that we are loving tendrils of Source consciousness, and are imbued with a connection that cannot be broken no matter what. I do not believe in hell and I have never encountered the Devil in all my dealings with the other side.
For those who are conflicted about what to believe because you’ve been raised with a strict religion, I would say to try to keep an open mind.
Unravel the doctrine that has held you fast, and really look at the world. Figure out what YOU believe. Trust your gut and follow your heart. Let your own experiences guide you. See what emerges.
Maybe your religion serves you very well, and maybe it doesn’t. It’s a personal choice. But if you are conflicted, try putting down your religious beliefs for a short while and see what happens to your worldview. You might be pleasantly surprised.