When I was 16 I turned to God to save me from a pending consequence of my failure to prepare myself for a rather major exam at school. Not being ever inclined towards the religion I was born into or God or faith, like all scoundrels do, I resorted to invoke the power of the creator for a miracle to save me. I was failed by my new found and short lived faith.
Faith, indeed, has up to the present not been able to move real mountains…. But it can put mountains where there are none. ~Friedrich Nietzche, Human, All Too Human, 1879
Later again, during the same winter, I woke up to the sound of someone banging at my door amidst a roaring winter storm in my dormitory at school. A building and the surroundings that was claimed to be notoriously haunted sitting alone below a hill surrounded by sprawling fields and mature trees. The abandoned church and an old cemetery beside added the buildings added to my naive fear and fright when I realized that I was staying alone in that section of the building being the holidays that December. My immediate reaction was to immediately reach out to the Holy Book that sat beside my bed holding the power of assurance and protection from all that is considered to be evil and harming. But this time, the moment I grabbed the book and clenched it against my chest, I noticed the banging on the door had stopped and in a few minutes the storm had shockingly settled. It was perhaps that that moment my faith in my religion was reluctantly born.
As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit. ~Emmanuel
The preceding years lead me to learning more about my religion, and exploring the power of prayers and faith in, what was then, “my” God. As I explored further and tested my new found faith by prayers whenever I found the need, I was often rewarded with all that I had asked for at that moment. Thus my faith in the creator and the power of prayers solidified. But I thankfully had the wisdom and never did seek for anything that was materialistic or based on greed.
Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. ~Kahlil Gibran
But as life took over and time passed where the time to fight the daily hurdles and challenges of took precedence, my incline towards my religion declined. But often it found its way into my heart as I began to learn more and observe the disparity between the Godly people and their true virtues. I began to see the hatred and anger being spread by those who claim their religion to be that of peace and love. I increasingly began to question the numerous faith and basic sensibilities defying rituals that were followed by all the religious around the world including that of mine. And the arrogant claim by those who consider themselves to be holier than others about not being allowed to question the rituals and religion began to develop a sense of implied force on my beliefs. The need to follow like sheep, obey the rituals and cultural systems developed and instilled hundreds of years ago didn’t sit well with me.
The faith that stands on authority is not faith. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Later as time and life permitted I ventured to learn and educate myself about the history of my own religion. The origin, how it was initiated, the Prophet, the teachings, the events soon after the prophets death, the political factions, the compilation of the holy book, the development of cultural norms, laws and rituals, the people who were instrumental in spreading the religion, the early oppositions etc were very interesting and highly educational to say the least. I paid careful attention to read and learn from various materials to form an unbiased opinion about my religion. Then I took this approach further to learn about other religions and faith systems around the world. My intention wasn’t to become an expert in any particular faith or a theologian. But my efforts were only fuelled by my interest to explore and learn the history of other faiths, what they preach and how they were born and spread. Although I occasionally did seek to understand which of these religions were better in comparison, but my findings often proved to confuse me more. Similarly, my respect for other faith systems grew and my acceptance of their moral beliefs and values increased. But I could never find any respect in the many mindless rituals and basterdized and corrupted versions of all these faiths.
All religions must be tolerated… for… every man must get to heaven his own way. ~Frederick the Great
Sadly, all faiths and religions have its share of legitimate and made up stories and tales, politically motivated laws and wars, crusaders, manipulations of the rituals and norms by the then leaders, several territorial and economy based wars, mysteries, wise kings and humane commanders, and a hand full of ruthless and senseless leaders. There are many within each of these religions who may agree and disagree with these facts as well. Some blinded by their fear of learning the truth that may alter their age old beliefs, some who chose to mindlessly follow the opinions of those they place their faith in, some insensibly defiant, and who fear losing their spirituality and faith in their God should the rituals and history known to them are proved wrong.
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
But amuses me most is the fact that all Gods messages are almost identical. The moral conducts and the values asked are exactly the same. Do not kill the innocent, spread love, be charitable, do not lie, be generous, pray, be righteous, be generous, hold moral principles, respect one and other, all creation regardless of caste, creed or color are made by God, respect, protect and serve all of Gods creation are some of the common messages from all of these Gods. And all these messages were often conveyed to man by those who were considered to be prophets. The messages were pure, clear, made sense and were highly inspirational.
Our respective religions were born soon after the demise of these prophets. The people who were soon, elected, appointed or took over the responsibility of upholding the preaching of these prophets eventually developed and established the respective religions. And as time passed each of these religions developed their respective cultures, laws, and territorial expanse by either war or offering protection.
Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. ~Mark Twain
Today after many hundreds of years after all the major religions had been established many of us sit pondering and questioning several misconceptions and rituals that many of these religions have been carrying. We, the more civilized, developed and educated people of today and the most intelligent of all of Gods creation still indulge in senseless behaviours that all of our respective individual faith systems condemn. Hate, prejudice, intolerance, disrespect and discrimination still continue. We have developed, advanced, challenged and changed age old paradigms and constitutions and progressively evolved. But we never have managed to let our religions to progressively evolve along with the ages and time. Many of us continue to conform to age old rituals and tales of our respective faiths, seek to follow blindly but never strive to get explore and learn, refuse to face the truth and continue to disrespect the very core moral behaviours that each of our Gods have asked of us.
There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it. ~George Bernard Shaw
But I for one am now perhaps more at peace with my faith and spirituality. I have grown to respect and accept every faith as I hardly see any difference between them. Although I still continue to question several rituals and tales within many of these religions, I have witnessed and seen that each of these faith systems get their prayers answered, believe on the same moral conducts, and the followers are allowed to progress, question, learn and be happy by their respective God or creator of mankind. Faith heals, faith empowers people, and for many the belief they have in God and the powers of their faith helps them sail through many of their troubles in life. I have grown beyond stereo typing a terrorist or a Zionist by their faith or religion and learned that the political and economic objectives influence all of the wars and hatred and not faith. Good people and bad people exist in every faith or religion and it is not a representation of their religion, but just the way human beings are. I do not belive any religion or faith is greater than the other but merely the same concept on moral values with different methods of worship and rituals based on the cultures and time when it was realized.
I have taken a strong stance against religion base charities as opposed to charity for humanity regardless of their religion or color. I have little regard for those who claim to be holier than thou. And I believe that bringing respect and identity to ones faiths must be done by an individual’s character and deeds rather than their attire and proclamation. Being a greater, tolerant and humble human being is much greater than being a good religious person. I still fail to understand the blind ritualistic behaviours of certain religions where a living man is treated as God and continue to be baffled by the often highly educated people who blindly follow many senseless rituals and conform to certain highly primitive thinking. But I have also learned that there are several things that we may not understand today, but time and wisdom shall open us to better understanding and acceptance towards out own self, faiths and other people.
My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance – but for us, not for God. ~Albert Einstein
I many have lost and found my religion many times, but I have never managed to lose my faith in the creator, good, and serving humanity. Serving humanity regardless of their religion, color or race is certainly more gratifying than otherwise. And accepting and respecting everyone beyond their individual faiths has become supremely important in our world today than ever before. For, if you are a believer; when you die and if you do happen to face the creator, it is your individual actions and decisions that shall be questioned on your conduct in this life. Your excuses, influences and circumstances will hold no value against your own beliefs, behaviour and faith.