Barb from That Was Vegan? is one of my vegan sisters and whips up some amazingly delicious creations that will literally have you saying, That Was Vegan? Check out her site for inspiration on cruelty-free eating that is still full of flavor and comfort.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I consider myself to be a very spiritual person. I was also raised as, and continue to be, an atheist. I know some people will see this as an enormous contradiction, but I don’t believe it is at all.
2. Did you attend church? Did you identify with a specific religion? How was it presented to you? How did you relate to it?
Growing up in a small New England town, it seemed that my family was the only one not going to church. I had friends who went weekly, or maybe just on the major religious holidays, but I was pretty much the only one never going at all. True story: I was never even inside of a church until I attended my grandparent’s funeral when I was in high school!
I wasn’t at all curious about it, either. I thought of it as something my family just didn’t do, if I thought of it at all. That started to change when I left for college. I read more, was introduced to a wider range of people and ideas, and began to think more deeply about it. I think this is pretty common phenomena among college students, no matter the topic.
3. Tell us about a significant moment that caused a shift in your spiritual development. Did your spiritual views change as you entered adolescence? Has your relationship with spirituality shifted as you entered adulthood?
It was around this time that I began to consider The Universe as something of a greater power. I came to believe in a sort of “collective spirit” that I felt encapsulated the positive aspects of a society more connected to each other and the planet we share, but without the aspects of organized religion that I perceive as negative. I started to grow more and more into this idea, and I found comfort in it. Was something a coincidence? No, that was simply The Universe telling me something. When things went my way, was it luck? Maybe… or perhaps it was The Universe giving me what I needed.
After college I moved to California and within my first few weeks there a family friend took me with him to a Buddhist retreat high in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. This was my very first introduction to Buddhism. I remember being so nervous, not knowing how to act or what to say or do. I also remember the kindness of everyone there. The monks of course, but also just the other Buddhists, people who had made the trek up the mountain for the day or weekend. It was like existing in a cloud of empathy and compassion. It was a wonderful feeling. This was also where my earlier ideas of a collective spirit and the connection we share with all living beings began to coalesce into something more solid and meaningful in my life.
As soon as I got home I began reading everything I could get my hands on about Buddhism and how to inject the beliefs into everyday life. And while I never became an actual Buddhist, I have continued to try and incorporate as much of that lifestyle as I can into my own.
The Buddhist practices of mindful compassion, understanding, and morality have helped to shape me into the woman I am today. The belief that we are all connected, that all lives matter, and especially the karmic impact of every choice I make help to keep me on the path I feel is right for me. It plays a part in every corner of my life, from my veganism to my relationships to the way I interact with strangers. It has become a part of my spiritualism, the very core of who I am.
4. What is your spiritual life like today?
And who is it that I am? Well I guess I’m a Spiritual Atheist with Buddhistic Tendencies. Who doesn’t use or consume animal products. Who tries (and sometimes fails) to always be a good person. To do the right thing. I’m completely imperfect, and even that is a part of my spirituality, because it’s a constant reminder that no one is perfect, so I shouldn’t judge. I should instead focusing on improving both myself and the world around me, as best I can. I am a lot of things!
The Center for Spiritual Atheism describes Wholistic Ethics as the belief amongst those who describe themselves as spiritual that as they go about their lives, they should be striving to be healthy and happy, and to help the world around them be healthy and happy too. I love both the term and the definition. I believe if everyone, no matter their religion or beliefs, followed those basic tenets, the world could be an infinitely better place. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
We are interested in hearing about your spiritual journey! If you would like to be featured on Spiritual Sidebar, please email us at spiritualbahana at gmail.com or comment here!