Sunday, January 3, 2010

The One True Thing

"However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?"

"All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth."
~ Gandhi

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
~ His Divine Holiness The Dalai Lama

"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today..."
~ John Lennon, 'Imagine'

For most, if not all of my life, I have not been religious. I would occasionally go to church with my great-grandmother, or grandmother, and in the summer, there was vacation Bible school, but that was the extent of my exposure to religion. For a while as a teenager, I was attracted to the ceremony of the Catholic church, and still find it fascinating, I have to admit. The husband and I got married in a Methodist church, and later on Chickenhead was baptized in the same church, but other than an occasional wedding, I haven't been to church in years.

But. I have seen far too many hateful, hurtful things done in this world in the name of God. And while this doesn't mean that I think that all Christians or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus are extremists who will do harm for the sake of their beliefs, it has led me to believe that for me personally, organized religion is not for me.

I don't believe that any one religion is the 'right' religion. I don't believe that his Baptist God is better than her Catholic God. I don't believe that God is a vengeful entity who will punish us when we do something wrong. I don't believe that life is a contest in which you must perform a set number of good deeds in order to get to heaven, and that if you do 'bad things' it's an automatic e-ticket to hell.

What do I believe? I believe in a Divine Spirit, call it God if you feel it must be named. I believe that 'God' is a loving and forgiving God who wants us all to do well during our time on Earth. 'God' wants us to learn from our experiences, our successes and our failures. I believe that each person has a moral responsibility to be kind to their fellow man. I believe that man has the capability to make the choice every day to do good or to do bad. If you choose to do good, you not only enrich the lives of others, but also your own life. If you make the choice to do bad, you destroy everyone including yourself. God does not make those choices for you, you do. I don't necessarily believe in Heaven or Hell, but that's just me. I do believe in karma, and that what you put out in to the world will come back to you. If you try to do good, good will come back to you. If you do bad, bad will come back upon you. I don't believe that someone necessarily has to die in order to be rewarded for their well lived life, or get their just desserts.

My mother in law gets upset that we don't take Chickenhead to church on a weekly basis. I don't think we need to take him to a church to have a relationship with God. And if he wants to explore different religions, I'm down with that. I would love to attend services at a Jewish temple, or Buddhist or Hindu ceremony; I think it's important not only for children to learn tolerance by experiencing other cultures, but it's also important to continue learning tolerance as adults, too. We can all learn just as much from Gandhi and Buddha as we can from Jesus, Mohammad and Shiva. Peace...



phd in yogurtry said...

Be true to your beliefs, not anyone else's. And I love your chosen quotes. All of them. Especially kindness as a religion. A-women.

cathycan said...

God is love.