Religion and Me

I’ve always had a problem with filling in forms asking for personal details. If you were to look, there’s always a section asking you to choose your religion from a set amount of options, the basics being Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. If you practice anything other than these four major faiths, then you’d be left with the option of Lain-lain, or Malay for ‘Others’.

Anytime I’m faced with these options, I always pick Buddhism as my religion. But thinking about it now, my family aren’t exactly Buddhists per se. In my home, we have an altar with the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) and two other deities whose names elude me. Hanging above the altar we have a picture of a Hindu goddess, whose name I can’t recall either.

I know my family has worshipped these particular deities from before I was born. The thought brings me to the question: for many of us, is religion something we choose for ourselves, or something we are born into, to obey and follow without question?

I have mixed feelings about religion, or rather, people’s attitudes towards religion. I understand that for many people, the tenets of their faith provide a guide for them on how to behave or conduct themselves appropriately. These people have my utmost respect because they live in accordance with noble principles of the highest order and are exemplary members of society.

At the same time, I find myself distressed and disturbed by people who proudly proclaim themselves as practitioners of certain faiths but act in ways that not only shame themselves, but the religions with which they are associated.

For instance, over the years, my family has had numerous run-ins with Christians. At first they seemed jovial and nice, but upon discovering that we were not Christians ourselves, they became disdainful and kept their distance from us.

Note that I am not out to stereotype all Christians of all denominations as selfish and pompous, but there are bad apples like these that simply stun me silent with their blatant hypocrisy!

Then there are those who use religion as a tool of division, hatred and intolerance. One need only look at the Crusades and Muslim terrorist organizations to understand this. Violence is frowned upon, but violence upon people that don’t profess the same faith is allowed; where’s the bloody logic in that?

On a more personal note though, I’ve never really had a personal need for religion. I guess I’m disillusioned by it. Religion scares me more than it makes me want to practice it.

I can’t say I don’t understand why others practice the faiths they do, but it’s something I’ve never felt myself. That’s not to say I don’t believe in God; on some level I suppose I do believe in a higher power.

I believe in reincarnation. Not reincarnation as in coming-back-from-the-dead (I’m neither Jesus nor a zombie), but more along the lines of our consciousness inhabiting another body after we die. It’s just that we have no memories of our previous life / lives when this happens.

Some people turn to religion to help discover their purpose in life. I think I’ve already found mine: to help make the world a better (read: more awesomesauce) place for the people I know. Sounds simple but this is a guiding principle I almost always use to guide my actions.

On another note, it’s strange how I wouldn’t really consider myself a religious person though I have had people telling me that I seem quite spiritual. Would anybody care to enlighten me on why this is so?

Also, harkening back to the question I asked earlier: is your religion something you chose for yourself, or are you practicing it only because you were born into it? Why do you follow your faith?

I’m looking forward to your comments and feedbacks on this issue.πŸ™‚

About Jared

I am all the awesomesauce you could ever want in a handsome, neat package, and you know it.
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12 Responses to Religion and Me

  1. Joanna says:

    In every religion there are good and bad followers. Christianity, as beautiful a religion as it is has had major issues in history i.e Spanish Inquisition and the heat that the Roman Catholic church has been receiving in recent years on accounts of sexual abuse amongst others. As long as you’re grounded in your own beliefs, regardless of religion then you’ll be fine. After all the Always-Do-What’s-Right religion is perhaps the best one to adhere toπŸ™‚

  2. EL CID says:

    All religions espouse the same idea. In the pursuit of happiness, which in fact guides everything we do in our life, religion provides a means to that end. And i believe the means its uses is indeed noble as it is true. However, what the masses of people have failed to understand is that it is not the only means by which one can reach god( ie happiness). Religion and God should be mutually exclusive. THere has to be a realization that you do not need the help of age old books, or ancient wisdom to guide you to seek for that happiness within you. I personally believe that the greatest modern tragedy is religion. Even after thousands of years we have people hanging on to rules and rituals that binded society for an equal length of years. Don’t get me wrong, i believe that everyone should have a religion, but not as a strict rule to life, where it governs all freedom of thought, and people are subservient to the written word. I believe the preservations of religion is vital not as a means to reach god, but rather as a culture, that gives us an identity. Religion as a way of life, rather than a rule to life, is what i espouse. It is the duty of every scion to preserve that culture that has been passed down for centuries, but not be bound to it. We might as well be nodding sheep being led to the slaughterhouse if not. The religious patriot is the greatest harm unto society.

  3. Haneef Isa says:

    Another well written entry by you Jared. Religion is a delicate issue. Being a muslim myself, i do believe in God and everything i was taught. To be frank, i am not really a good muslim to begin with, but i tried to slowly understand my religion and hopefully-eventually i will fulfill everything that i am obligated to. I just dont want to be those people who claim they pray 5 times a day, but it all just for the sake of showing it to other people. That is just wrong.

    For me, religion is what you think tells the truth. If you are already born into it, great. If not, keep looking and hopefully you will find the one that is closest to your heart. Allahyarham Yasmin Ahmad once said “everyone is looking for God. It is just their ways that are different to one another”

  4. malvinder88 says:

    In my 2 years as a full time Christian Missionary, what i learnt when i teach is that. We impart the knowledge, then it is up to the person to pray and ponder about the teachings we have taught them. Most of the time they receive their answers in prayers . What they felt after a period of study and prayer is usually happiness that feels their soul and home. It is like a light and most of all they feel happy practicing what we taught them.
    The key is to study on it.
    For me, confusion is set by the adversary as a trap to lure humans away from God, what confuses you cant be the religion that is right. The bottom line is, what religion makes you feel happy and fulfilling inside at the same time it makes you feel close to the Celestial realm. It is up to you.
    This website might help http://www.mormon.org

  5. kay li says:

    manifesting purpose of life needs a strong pillar to hold on. either your own faith or religion. for me, religion provides a space for people gain their own faith through group learning. it’s about choice.πŸ˜‰

  6. orkid says:

    hi papa!
    i’ve been missing u sooo much!

    anyway,
    in my opinion, there is a thick line between being religious and being spiritual.
    being religious more like when a person person a lot of ritual practices, wearing clothes that symbolizes the religion, more to the physical practice.
    however, being spiritual is in your soul. you know deeply that we, in this world, is being “monitored” or “controlled” by supreme power, we believe we have purpose in our life, we believe in karma, we always want to do the right thing, we know that we are not superior and we are not living forever.

    for me, you are being spiritual, which is good. spritual person may not necessarily become religious.
    and when we see the “bad side” of any group representing any religion, i can say that they are being religious without being spiritual. Because any religion is against terrorism, fraud, cruelty (for example).

    So what i am trying to say here is that yes, we need religion however the values and spirit of the religion is really important. Yes, u looked religious (or mistakenly looked by other ppl) because u always practice good values in life. But for me you are being spiritual.
    huuu. do u get what i mean? haha. i hope this wont confuse u even moreπŸ˜€

  7. Sen Loong says:

    A religion is a belief that you choose on your own in life. Always seek and find the truth.That the most important thing. It’s your personal relationship between you and God. Study and seek and ya, try to pray. I’m sure you will find it.

  8. Haris H. says:

    Well religion to me is something personal. Let’s say a gift or a belief that there is something bigger in this world or the next. Some are blessed since they were young to believe in this while other’s are still looking. I believe it is important to have religion both in good times and in the bad. To answer your question I’m gonna say to me it’s part of both. First I was born in to it and than I had faith to choose it. To answer the second question I would like to quote on Albert Einstein, “Without faith nothing is possible, with it everything is possible.” (Or something like that)

  9. Henry Yew says:

    Religion, I believe, is not something you born into. As far as I am concerned, no children is born into Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or any other religion. Normally, parents have the notion that the concept of faith has to be inculcated into the child as early as possible, and often we, being the children, will just follow blindly because we trust that “our parents know best”.

    Yes, perhaps they do know what is best for us, but then when you reach a certain age, you will begin searching for faith yourself. Your perspective of life will determine your path towards a faith, and whether you believe in God or not also depends on the kind of life that you have gone through.

    So nobody was really a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Christian when they were three months old, three years old or even thirteen years old. And just because your parents are Buddhists or Christians or Muslims do not necessarily make you one as well! Your journey in searching for a faith rests entirely on you, but parents do help in determining your choices sometimes. However, the personal conviction that you get is entirely on an individual basis.

    And yes, some people do profess a certain faith and yet behind the curtains they commit crimes that go against their faith. It’s really a shame, but then again it goes to say that some human beings are hypocrites themselves. It has the potential to make other people’s efforts go into the drain, but it is a test of faith for some people.

    So don’t worry about your path. As you continue walking, you will continue to seek and search.

  10. joe says:

    hmmm.. personally i think that it’s a matter of how we as an individual relate to the higher power. I guess the level of intimacy of our relationship with the God we know would be reflected in our character and the way we carry ourselves. Blindly practicing religion begets hypocrisy, and it happens unknowingly until we examine ourselves. That’s just what I think anyways. =)

  11. Aaron Oo says:

    I personally believe that all religions being practiced will always teach their followers to do good work and never the opposite. I have definitely encountered something similar to your case but mine was more exaggerated. Now, he asked me which church I go to. I told him I’m Buddhist. And he told me that I still have to time to come over. I was actually amused by that. Since when it’s all about forcing people to hop over??!!Does it actually mean that if I help to convert a person I go to heaven? Well, I’ll rubbish that off.

    I always believe that religion is a privacy matter and it’s between you and God alone. Nothing else than that. I’d always believe that every religion is beautiful; just like what Joanna mentioned that there are bad apples too in any religion. I too believe in karma like you. As long as I do the right thing; at the right time; and at the right place – I have definitely done my part upholding human rights, justice and live my life to the fullest. I am happy being a Buddhist because it taught me the way of life (I’m sure others too) and be contended with what you have and never be greedy.

    Jared, just live your life to the fullest. That’s all! Cheerio.

  12. Jason says:

    Haha man.”To help make the world a better(MORE AWESOMESAUCE) place for the people I know”.Perhaps that’s why people seem to think you’re spiritual.Haha spirituality.IMHO there really isn’t anything much to talk bout really cos whatever it is,it all boils down to the simplest of things in the end,just like what you have as your personal guiding principle.Religion to me is a guide that ultimately leads to something similar with what you have as your principle.Me,I eat well,sleep well,play Borderlands whee,doing all those happy enough without anything negative nagging and gnawing at the back of my brain;the conscience center to be precise haha.And as long as it stays that way,I know God’s with me haha.Even if I’m not,I know he’s still on my side regardless.Of course that doesn’t mean I get a free pass to blast people to smithereens like Rakks haha.Well nway,that’s just the gist of what I believe in.πŸ™‚ As for you,great job man so far I frankly believe you must be one of those who are already somewhere ahead of the pack.πŸ˜€ Take heart with what you believe in while remembering to always stay open-minded enough to receive new/established ideas that you may encounter in the future.Well,it’s always good to leave some room to improve ourselves right?And yeah,may God bless you right up til the finishing line!πŸ™‚

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