Poor lost Hans. It was not long after leaving home that he began to regret his decision and began to be filled with incredible doubt. Just as he was about to turn back he saw a tower rise in the distance. His curiosity got the best of him and he pressed on, if for no other reason than to discover what this tower was. Hans was greeted by a monk upon entering the looming building, inside he saw monks and ever day people alike conversing and meditating. It was the monks however that captured Han's attention, they seemed so calm and at peace. He asked one the secret to their serenity, and the monk sent Hans to the top of the tower to converse with the Tower's Elder. The Elder invited Hans to study with them and explained they achieved peace by studying nature and the Pokémon Bellsprout. Hans readily accepted hoping this would be what he was seeking.
Studying with the Sprout Monks was going well and Hans was appreciating much of what he was learning, but it was not fulfilling him quite like he had hoped. Silver, the thief Hans had earlier encountered arrived at the tower and began to mock Hans and the Sprout Monks, "You worship one of the weakest of Pokémon! The best Bellsprout grow strong and evolve, yet you all stand here stagnant" As Silver left the tower Hans meditated on his words and saw they were somewhat true. He decided he would not be stagnant but would continue his journey and find a way to evolve.
Slowpoke once saved the town by bringing rain and was now sacred there. Hans could hardly believe his ears, how could an unintelligent Pokémon be considered sacred or special in any way? But had learned from the lowly Bellsprout so he sat by the town's Slowpoke Well to observe, and while he observed he fell asleep. When Hans awoke he felt light as a feather, much of the stress he had been feeling was gone, but he still felt he had wasted his time in Azalea Town. He passed right through Ilex Forest, not even stopping at the shrine within, he was feeling too carefree after his nap.
Upon arriving in Goldenrod he made a beeline for the Game Corner to try his hand at gambling. He was normally too risk adverse to participate in such an activity, but today he felt rested and nihilistic! If religion wasn't going to help him find himself perhaps cards could. Although he had moderate success and was able to exchange his winnings for a new Pokémon, an Ekans he named Ida, he could not have been more wrong. Hans felt wasteful and empty inside, the stress had returned in full force! He regretted ignoring the Ilex Forest shrine earlier.
He continued on in his journey and in Ecruteak City attempted to go to Bell Tower to pray but was turned away by the tower's guardian sages. Instead he went to the nearby Burned Tower. There he ran into Silver again who ridiculed him mercilessly. Hans was feeling more lost then he had when he had left New Bark Town. He decided he would head home, but would go sightseeing at the Lake of Rage on his way.
Just his luck as he neared the lake he got lost. While feeling particularly dejected and thinking all hope was lost he stumbled upon a cabin. Inside was a man meditating who simply gave him a gift and told him that we each have a power hidden inside of us. The man had a map of the Lake of Rage area on his wall and as Hans made his way back to civilization he realized that he had been so focused on finding his purpose he had forgotten the lessons he had learned from the religions he'd encountered on his journey.
Hans decided than that he would incorporate those lessons into his life as he continued to try to uncover for himself his true purpose. He would be flexible like the Sprout Monks, he would remember to relax from time to time like the Slowpoke, he would pay attention and stop frequently to learn so he could live without regret, he would avoid wastefulness such as gambling, and he would cherish what he has because it could burn away at any moment.
Religion is neither good nor is it bad, but it is instead a tool. The tool is intended to bring us closer to the divine by inspiring peace, growth, and community within our lives. Sometimes one religion tool makes our hand ache as we use it and another may seem dull or ineffective. When this happens and we see others using the same tool to great success we begin to wonder if it is not the tool that is faulty but ourselves. Although we should never use a bad tool as an excuse to stop striving to better ourselves, sometimes a religion does not fit us or our life. In these cases the onus is on us to find the tool that makes us feel comfortable and at home. While we search it is important we recognize what we liked about using each of the tools or philosophies, so that we can construct our own value system. For some of us the perfect tool to bring us spirituality is the one we build ourselves.
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