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. 🙂