I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is. ~ Albert Camus
An interesting fact prevails in all of these various religions that were established at different times based on different messages from different Prophet’s in different cultures. The surprising fact lies in the “similarities” in these “religious” systems. The message and the moral basic core principles are identical. When one investigates further, we can see that there are many similar rituals practiced by the followers of all these various faith systems including monotheistic and polytheistic ones. For example, the similarity of two faiths and belief systems which is widely considered to be opposing in fundamental concept, Islam and Hinduism have quite a few similar rituals: one being monotheistic and against idol worshiping, while the other a polytheistic, with an idol for each of their gods and their respective attributes. They both have holy water, both have the practice of circling around their place of worship (Muslims around Kaaba, and Hindus around their temple), both cut their hair after pilgrimage, both fast, both offer sacrifices, both bow to their Gods. Further, they have the same beliefs in good and bad, love, peace, and respect. Yet it is believed by their respective followers as an opposing religion surprisingly.
No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means. ~George Bernard Shaw
As people evolved and developed into more intelligent beings, so did their ability to comprehend, learn, communicate and better understand life. In our current advanced age and time we still have trouble communicating and understanding our own language, nuances, behavior and most importantly controlling the integrity of a message, which only proves that this communication skill is still in a state of evolution and will continue to be for a few hundred years. Thus, many people who try to learn the doctrines and writings of this man-made religion happen to question aspects of it which doesn’t appear to be logical or make sense. Many such doctrines are questioned on a few selective messages therein which clearly doesn’t appear to be part of those with divinity. Particularly, messages that defy or contradict equal respect for both genders, tolerance and respect for all religions, serving humanity regardless of race, color or creed, be forgiving, how to be modest, and rights of all human beings to be equal. Such differences between what the Prophet’s preached which is considered to be divine and what the religion proclaims has caused many to explore these religious beliefs further. The result of such questions which are often considered as blasphemy in nature by the stubborn and illogical religious heads of these religions has provided very few logical answers that are convincing. Clearly, man has evolved much further than expected by those who formed these religions a few thousand years ago. It is quite disappointing to still watch a small portion of the more educated and advanced people of today often blindly follow a specific fundamental set of religious beliefs and practices that often defies any logic, divinity or are in line with the original messages by their own Prophets. Although we witness each generation evolving into more intelligent begins than the last, many of us still trust and follow the wisdom of people who lived several generations past. This is where people began to shift their faith from God of mankind to religion. Perhaps in a way a shift from humanity to community.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. ~ Mohandas Gandhi
However, no matter the religion or the respective deity or symbol, all of them preach very similar aspects of life, morals and values and often indulge in similar practices and rituals. What makes them different are the rules, laws of conduct, social norms, symbols of identity, attire, social behavior and systems of control that were developed by people who soon took control of the followers of the prophets under the banner of religion. This need and desire to control and exercise power over the respective communities or followers, gave birth to the evils that human beings fester till date. Ego, pride, arrogance, and vainglory are some of the key characteristics of these appointed spiritual or religious leaders of these faith systems today. Surprisingly, these are the same characteristics of Satan under which he refused to obey God and bow to his creation – man. Under these very influences these leaders often abuse their power and try to manipulate their people to achieve their personal goals and egoistic aspirations. They often are very wise and recruit people who are accustomed to obeying commands blindly due to fear of persecution from the powerful. But the true shock is when educated people armed with some basic rational thinking also choose to blindly follow such leaders and actively participate or support in their egocentric and political aspirations under the pretext of religion.
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama
History has proved time and over again, that each of these religions or faith systems had begun with peaceful intentions. Each of these religions were spread with humble intentions but each had a handful of leaders who used violent force unfortunately due to their individual choice, limited wisdom, ego, and the lack of any other system available to them but religion as a viable political system to manage people and install familiar culture that is easier to manage. Each of these “religions” went through a phase of power struggle soon after their inception and the demise of their Prophet. In the immediate years to follow, each had their share of religious leaders trying to use and manipulate the then political leaders and kings to their advantage, each have good followers and bad ones, all of these religions had leaders who were good and bad as well, every religion has their share of positive social and scientific contribution by people from their faiths. Some had great builders and ambitious plans to expand their cultural richness, some were conquerors of different strategic lands and some tried to spread their culture, beliefs and religious practices by force. But regardless of the religions or practices, all have the same fundamentals of good values and morals and each have their own set of social rules and norms that drive and influence behaviours based on moral living, love, tolerance, peace, justice and faith in the creator.
A just laicism allows religious freedom. The state does not impose religion but rather gives space to religions with a responsibility toward civil society, and therefore it allows these religions to be factors in building up society. ~ Joseph Ratzinger
I oppose religion based charities. I believe if a religion preaches to serve humanity, then the charity work should be without the need to convert their faiths. Not in this age and time. The people of faith, especially who are seen or hold the position as leaders or experts should not speak words of hate, anger, rage and incite such concepts in people. If anything, these are the people who should be preaching tolerance, love, peace and instill hope, faith, and inspire morality. But all that we see is many such people doing exactly the opposite and tragically people following them like cattle. People of good faith should rather strive to inspire others by their character, demeanor, deeds, love, respect for others as opposed to their attire, communal strength, and rituals. And above all, should evolve with time. The need for progressive evolution has become more essential now more than ever. Past mistakes of others and poor past leaderships should be left in the past and we need to see ourselves as the new builders of society.
That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God. ~ Albert Einstein
If we can primarily be human beings and begin to behave like one that could alone ignite a flame of enlightenment. Do not choose to be blinded by your faith systems, and live in the assumption that your faith is the only path to heaven. If this is true, the creator would not have sent several prophets. Followers of the wrong faiths could be wiped off this planet if the creator chooses, followers of other faiths will not be prosperous and happy, followers of other faiths will not have their prayers answered and people who follow wrong faith systems will not be able to procreate and give birth to pure innocent souls. Thank the creator for life, for making us human, giving us the ability to think, creating us and this world with all its endless resources, our ability to learn and appreciate, love, be loved, procreate, help others, and appreciate his or her divine powers being exercised on us and creation every day. Do not be blinded and instead choose to thank for a man-made religion, rituals, age-old beliefs and fables, or mundane stories of proof less miracles. Learn, read, explore and understand. Do not blindly follow like a cattle, and have the sensibility to differentiate between the man who speaks the true words of the creator or God in good faith about love, peace, serving his creation – humanity, tolerance, forgiveness, enlightenment and spirituality from the man who speaks of hate, violence, intolerance, rage, ego, pride and anger in the name of religion. If we can learn to love and live peacefully for ourselves and the others it could start a new beginning. If we refuse injustice towards one and all regardless of their cast, creed or color we can bring change. If we can lead by example of character rather than a display of costumes and rituals we can influence another. If we can be charitable to all humans regardless of their religion, color or culture we will bring peace. With such a balanced approach and the will to coexists by mutual respect and understanding and by removing ego and pride from the equation, mankind can and will eventually develop a much more peaceful and resourceful living. They can leave behind a life of love, and peace for their loved ones to enjoy, thrive in and sustain for the other following generations to come. But we must remember to eliminate the dreaded characteristic of the evil: “ego and pride” especially associated to our faiths and our belief systems as it has no place in there. We need to realize that if we feel the need to keep our faiths, then we need to keep the faith in God of mankind as opposed to the man-made religion, religious leaders, religious systems, rituals and beliefs. Learn and seek yourself for the truth and answers using your logic and intelligence and you shall find it. It is in your heart where God resides and in your conscience where truth resides.
I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. ~ Khalil Gibran