> I'd like to learn more but the religious aspects are a turnoff.
This is a shame. Within the frivolous details we debate so much religion holds a wealth of wisdom and value that anyone can apply to their lives and benefit from.
I took a similar stance when getting into meditation. I was looking for a way to deal with stress and I was certainly not "religious". I quickly found that modern/western Buddhism is stripped free of a lot of the Asian cultural traditions that I perceived as religion.
"This is a shame. Within the frivolous details we debate so much religion holds a wealth of wisdom and value that anyone can apply to their lives and benefit from."
I have to agree. Many of the fruits of the Enlightenment have been very positive, and the oppressive and totalitarian aspects of what passes for organized religion deserve to be rejected in the strongest possible terms.
However, the viciously anti-religious attitude that the Enlightenment has spawned and which has had a resurgence recently thanks to narrow-minded bigots like Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, the mainstream media's relentless focus on church scandals, some forms of religious extremism and supposedly religiously inspired terrorism (all of which I condemn in no uncertain terms) has led a lot of people to reject all of religion wholesale -- which is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
There are many profound, thought provoking, inspirational, and beautiful ideas, images, and messages in religion. And there's an incredibly wide and varied range of different types of religion -- to an extent that most people are simply not aware of.
Despite what we may see on the news or read in books by the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris, religion is not all about domination, pedophilia, or unquestioning obedience to some leader or dogma.
Unfortunately, many people do buy in to such myopic visions of religion, mostly through ignorance and propaganda. As a result, they're really missing out on the parts of religion which are positive, constructive, profound, and even liberating.
That said, I'm not a believer myself. I'm agnostic, but a student of the history, techniques, and beliefs of religion (among many other things). I want to learn about every aspect of religion -- good and bad, light and dark. Few fields as large as religion are as simple as they might first appear.
To be clear, I think the philosophical and some of the metaphysical ideas that come with meditation have a lot to offer as a way of thinking about the world. I'm talking more about the stuff like "aligning chakras" and "energies" and all that.