Friday, August 18, 2006

Holier Than Thou

The concept of religion has been featuring rather prominently in my life at the moment. Although I was baptized a Catholic as a wee lil devil, I was also educated in the Buddhist way of life.

33 years down the road, I am here on practically a Pagan spiritual path. But let's not talk about that today. What I find most interesting is that this past week, I have been told to:

a) read the Bible more
b) chant Buddhist prayers more


So that my soul is saved and that I will have a good rebirth.

I find those comments interesting because it came from two women who have done some very despicable acts to fellow humans.

As I type this now, in a house a few doors down, a home Mass is being conducted. Interesting venue I thought because the couple who live there have an Indonesian maid who is so badly treated and this wonderful "pious" couple are also very cruel towards animals.

So, what is the purpose of religion then? A form of control to curb our "evil" insticts? A method to induce us to do good at least once a year? Or a self-serving system to assure ourselves that we have booked ring-side seats in the next life?

I am not saying there arent good religious people out there. I am sure there are and I do know some. But I am also equally sure there are very good people who are not religious and I know many of such people. Some of them are pagans, atheists or otherwise leading alternative lifestyles that are frowned upon by all mainstream religions.

While the pious people in my life are busy with their rituals and preaching to others about the redemption of their souls and the quality of their rebirth the unpious are busy as well.

Busy helping to make the neighbourhood we live in safer. Actively raising $$$ for orphanages and other needy causes. Donating their time and skills to those who need their help. Socializing with the labour force in their workplace or home, realising that these migrant workers have no friends & family here.

And they do this, purely from the heart and in most cases instinctive. Its not part of a social outreach program organised by a church, temple or mosque. Its not lead by fear that they have not done their bit for the less fortunate. Its not motivated by the thought of gaining merits and obtaining good karma.

Its done because one strives to be a good person. Just simply that.

On the flip side, I know many people turn to religion as an anchor, a guiding light in the tumultous sea called life. And that is fine because we each find our spiritual strength from some source. But how can one person tell another what their personal source should be? It defies our will as an individual to choose our own path. And its even more insulting to tell someone you should read the Bible more or to chant more.

If I had to choose a religion, I would choose one of kindness.

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. - The Dalai Lama -

My country is the world, and my religion is to do good. - Thomas Paine -

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