It’s this time of the year, a few days before Eastern when, for instance, Jehova’s Witnesses knock on doors to convince people from their religion and belief system. The other time when this happens quite often is before Christmas. Yesterday, when it happened again, I just said “thanks for asking, but there is nothing I want to discuss with you.” I’m wondering why they have no working customer relationship principles in place. They should know that I’m very consequent over years in not having any conversation with them.
What follows here is my personal perspective only. I do not call out a single religion. That’s not my purpose at all. And if one of the many religions in this world is beneficial to you in your life, that’s totally fine. But please respect that others may have another point of view. Tolerance and respect are what we need the most, especially as nowadays religions are again so mixed up with politics. Even worse, often “culture” is meant, but it’s called “religion.”
My early experiences with religions didn’t convince me
I remember when I was a child at age twelve or thirteen, alone at home when the doorbell rang. Then these guys stood in front of the door when I opened. At this time, I had no idea what “Jehova’s Witnesses” would even mean. I was told in school that there was a God in the sky who created everything and controlled everything. It didn’t make a lot of sense for me. It didn’t feel right. I had immediately the idea that whatever people called “God” is something we had to discover within ourselves, if at all. In school, I was told to be wrong and to learn my religion. It ended with bad grades, as you can imagine.
As a child, I debated the issue with these guys from “Jehova’s witnesses” for almost an hour at the door, letting them know my opinion. They made lots of efforts to convince me of the opposite. But the only things they could tell me were quotes from the bible. But it was nothing they could put into my context. Nothing tangible. So, I was still not convinced of their religion. The discussion ended when my Mother came home.
There is no single truth in the world, especially not if it’s built on beliefs only
Fast forward to today, I still have an issue with religions, because they are all built on an intangible authority that has different names in different religions, quoted from books that have different names in different religions, with questionable origins. And, of course, every religion provides their list of rules, what to do and what not to do, what’s good, what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong. If you follow these rules, you will be fine. If not, bad things will happen to you. Overall, lots of opinions and beliefs. But almost no facts. Of course, each religion claims to have the universal truth. And that means that all the others are wrong.
What none of these religions does, is to encourage people to think on their own and to question everything that comes their way. And that’s exactly what drives me crazy, this idea that one religion is right and from this perspective, another one is wrong. But we all know that none of them has neither the facts nor the truth. Regarding encouraging people to think systematically and critically, only Buddhism teaches people to question everything and to make their own experiences. And that makes Buddhism something else, but not a religion, as they provide more a framework that inspires thinking rather than a set of rules to be followed.
How should this polarity between good and bad, right and wrong help us to solve a single issue of the many urgent issues on this planet? And this polarity was and is so often driven by different religions fighting against each other.
This is simply not how this world works and not how people should interact with each other. Things are never only black and white, and today’s reality from climate change to personal relationships are far more complex on many levels. In my opinion, nobody has the truth because the world and the universe out there are way too complex that we humans could really understand it thoroughly.
What we have, are scientific facts (physics), and they are not built on religions, but on how this universe works. In parallel, have a look at various spiritual thinkers, and compare what they experience and how. Often, both domains discover similar things, but on a different level of consciousness. And that’ fascinating for me especially when you have your own experiences with meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices like feeding that cats or washing the dishes, that allow you to make a deeper connection with our world, and the universe we are a part of.
Let’s look how science and spirituality come to similar conclusions from different perspectives
The scientific part on how we are all connected to each other, to the Earth, and to the rest of the universe, is best explained by Neill de Grasse Tyson:
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”
Now listen, for instance, to Thich Nhat Hanh, who explains connectedness differently: why you can see the cloud in the rain, which is built on science and not on a belief system.
“It’s like a cloud in the sky. When the cloud is no longer in the sky, it doesn’t mean the cloud has died. The cloud is continued in other forms like rain or snow or ice. So you can recognize your cloud in her new forms.”
So, as a writer, look at the transformation from the cloud that became rain that allowed the trees to grow which was necessary to create paper. You can clearly see the cloud in the paper, and also the sun because the tree also needed the sunshine to grow. Play with these thoughts to get a feeling how connected things actually are. For me, that’s highly fascinating.
Understanding that all living beings are connected to each other, how does paschal lamb or the goose or turkey for Christmas fit together? How can sacrificing animals for a religious habit ever be justified?
In my opinion, it cannot be “peaceful” to kill one being over there to celebrate “peace” over here. I follow a simple principle: All life matters, and there is no species that is more important than another one. Furthermore, as a human being, I have no need, no reason and, therefore, no right to kill another living being. That includes animals. And “taste” is not a reason, it’s just an excuse to change a habit. I will never understand how people can “enjoy” something that’s based on so much cruelty and suffering for others. Don’t leave the animals out of the equation. Furthermore, animal based “food” is a disaster for the environment (watch CowSpiracy), a Holocaust for the animals (watch Earthlings), and it’s only healthy for the pharmaceutical industry, but not for people’s health (watch Forks over Knives).
I haven’t seen a religion raising its voice for animal rights. Why?
Living what I discovered in my heart, unconditional love, how could I possibly follow any religion that still builds on sacrificing animals for religious reasons? Could it be, that this is merely pathetic or a common and unquestioned habit, because people have always done it this way?
Please wake up and question your habits and beliefs. What seemed to be right in the past, must not be the right thing today, as our consciousness level should have increased.
I made a simple decision for myself: Understanding the principle of connectedness and the need to increase compassion in this world led to the decision to stop animal cruelty on my plate, and in other parts of my life (it takes some time to replace shoes, bags, and other equipment).
Being vegan, considering my body as the temple of my soul, not supporting animal cruelty, is my daily spiritual practice.
The difference between religion and spirituality can be reduced to one principle: Religion separates, Spirituality unites.
Instead of providing rules and beliefs, spirituality encourages you to make your own path and create your own stories. This sets you on a journey of enlightenment and self-discovery to which the only limits can be set by yourself.
Discover your own path, and find your truth!