I am struggling here, too.
Somebody tells me something I hadn't thought of before, or hadn't thought of that way before, and I think "Well, yes, that makes a lot of sense to me. I think I'll try to put that into practice." How is that not "thinking for myself?"
If I then find out that there is a community who think the same way as I do about that sort of thing, so we socialize, compare notes, maybe even sit in meditation together, how does that change whether or not I was thinking for myself when I first considered the thinking we share?
I am confused about the distinction the thread is trying to tease out. I am OK with the idea that religion usually involves shared beliefs, practices, literary references, etc. (allowing that people do sometimes talk about "their" religion, as differences from what they share with others). But I just don't see how agreeing with somebody discloses whether I'm thinking independently.
I also don't see how I would become subject to a dead person (Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed...) just because I admire some or many of their thoughts. Their thinking is done. I can look at it, take what I think has merit, and pass on the rest. In fact, that's what I do, and from a longer list of thinkers than that, not all of them "religious" (Socrates, for example.)
OMG, I'm a cafeteria everythingist .
LOL, Cafeteria everythingist !!! I love it. Heck, I recently loved an idea from an ex anorexic(not eating paper)and thought that is a good idea when one is tempted by pop tart ice cream sandwiches. I took what had merit and passed on the rest.