I lived in Spain until I was twenty three. From four to eighteen I went to a nouns’ school. My parents did not put me in that school because it was Catholic since they are not at all religious but because it was near my house and was an exigent school. Nevertheless, the influence of the nouns and my own personality (I suppose) led me to believe in God and to be religious (to follow the rites and the Catholic principles). I did not believe in Catholicism blindly; I questioned it but nonetheless I followed it essentially. I questioned Catholicism but I did not question God.
My experience in this school made me relate words like ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ to the nouns, and their grey suits, the crucifix in the classroom, the Wednesday mass at school and the Sunday mass in the church, Religion lessons, and the pictures and stories the nouns brought from their Missions in Africa, the Pope and the Vatican, the priests, first communions and baptisms.
In that school I was taught that we have to try to do our best; we have to avoid lying and cheating, being lazy, and treating people differently according to their social background, and we also have to do our best, always try to dedicate some time to help other people, and feel bad when we don’t follow these principles.
At around eighteen I started to meet people who did not believe in God and who had stopped being Catholic. I realized nothing especially bad was happening to them; their lives had not collapsed. Gradually I stopped going to church, I stopped praying, and I stopped believing. I grew to be an existentialist, maybe? and also became very interested in Psychology.
When I reflect on what ‘God’ and Catholicism meant to me I feel uneasy and I want to run as far away from it as I can. I guess I also felt uneasy at the time but I considered having uneasiness somewhere inside your consciousness was a good sign; a sign that every time you did not do your best (according to what I was taught) you were aware of it and you did not feel completely good about yourself; that uneasiness made you try to remedy it and that would make the world a better place. I felt life could not be lived without that sensation; that it was inherent to being alive.
For more than four years I have been living in a city where people from all over the world coexist. I have met persons who follow different religions. I have discussed with them in many occasions what ‘God’ means. I tried to show them why I am agnostic and I questioned their beliefs and their religions to see if they could convince me of the opposite.
I have realized that the word ‘God’ does not bring to me the same images it used to before I moved here. Actually, I am now thinking that the word God does not bring me images any more. It brings me an invisible abstraction, a pure idea with no shape. It brings me conversations about it with all those different people.
I started to practice Yoga some months ago. According to what I have learned, to meditate is to go beyond the mind. They say it takes a lot of practice and that at the beginning it is very difficult to put away your thoughts. I am still trying.
Today I was telling someone that living in this city has made me realized what my agnosticism means and in it ‘God’ would consist in the awareness, the consciousness, in every human being, that life can be very difficult and painful.
Well, I have to admit that, at this point, in my idea of God, as in my Yoga practice, I am not able to go beyond the mind. I am still in the consciousness that life can be tough.