In January Gotham/Penguin will publish my new book A Religion of One's Own. For years I've avoided reducing rich ideas to ten steps or seven guidelines. But then I realized that there's a certain poetry and magic is such reductions and formulas. Therefore, I offer ten ways to fashion a religion of one's own:
1. Meditate. Learn a formal way of meditating, or be contemplative in nature, alone, at work, or at home.
2. Live ethically. Do no harm and make your life a positive contribution to humanity. Work ethically for ethical companies or organizations. Change work if necessary. At least, keep trying to have a highly moral life work.
3. Live responsibly. Read the signs for who you are to be and what you are to do.
4. Have a dream practice. Dreams give you strong hints about what's going on and how you can adjust. Without them you have no guidance but your own consciousness, which is too limited.
5. Be a mystic. Expand your sense of self through art and wonder. Achieve special states of awareness. Have a greater sense of self through losing yourself.
6. Be intimate with nature. Especially take daily note of the sky: sun and moon, clouds, weather, planets, stars. Learn from animals. Be astonished by geology and plant life.
7. Be a monk or monkess. Adapt monasticism of any variety to your daily life and to the world in which you live. Spend time carefully. Read deeply. Study. Honor the book, good food and community.
8. Aim for bliss. Not superficial happiness or possessions or wealth. Not entertainment. But bliss: knowing you are in the right place and doing what you are meant to do.
9. Develop a philosophy and theology of life. Think about your life. Work out some principles for yourself. Don't follow the crowd. Take the road less taken, the narrow gate, the path you see behind you.
10. Learn from the world's religions and spiritual traditions. You don't have to join or believe. Find insights and methods and beautiful expressions and images. Don't separate secular from sacred. Make you own collection of truths and art works.
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