With my recent blogs, I have focused on our food supply and our physical health, plus the health of our nation. Well, with all of the rhetoric about our national health care system, what do you say we hit the pause button? Instead of discussing what enriches your stomach (and your health), let’s focus – for a few blogs – on what enriches your soul. As a starting point, let me ask: Do you dare to reevaluate your religion? Is it currently fulfilling all of your spiritual needs?
Do you know that more people change their religion between the age of 50 and 75 than at any other point in their life? In that context I think it is fair to ask two basic questions. Do you think that your current religion is the one and only true religion? And have you ever considered another religion? The world lists 730 established religions and 3,200 different sects. With such diversity (and remember that humans have 3,000 to 8,000 languages and 5,000 ethnic groups), do you think that God created just one religion? And is it – lucky you! – your religion?
How much do you know about the world’s religions? Or even the great religions? First, there were the primal religions, established by the primitive tribes. Then, over the course of history, there came the development of the first two great religions, Hinduism and Judaism. After their popularity and spread through a significant part of the world, there came Buddhism and Christianity. Religious scholars often refer to these two religions as the “adolescent” or “rebellious” religions. Buddha was a Hindu who rebelled against Hinduism; and Jesus Christ was a Jew who rebelled against Judaism. The result? Two more great religions.
What about the fifth great religion? Islam. Coming after the first four great religions, Islam offered the viewpoint that the earlier religions were developed from real connections with God, and that they were created by true prophets, like Jesus Christ. However, Islam argued that the earlier prophets had failed to fully understand God’s message, that the unaltered and absolute messages could only be found in the Qur’an, and that (I bet you can guess this next part!) the one and only true religion was Islam, not the other four. Now, when you listen to your own religion, doesn’t that sound a bit familiar? Don’t you consider your religion the best!?
Well, there are other viewpoints. You could, for example, believe that God loved diversity and created all of the 730 established religions. You could believe that all of the religions are equal – or at least deserved of our respect and tolerance. Or you could progress from your religious beliefs to more spiritual beliefs. What did Gandhi say? In heaven, there is no religion. There is only God. Or how about the Dalai Llama quote: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Can you appreciate that viewpoint? Maybe the world doesn’t need more religions; maybe the world just needs more kindness?
So, as we start through a new series of blogs (taking a short break from our focus on your physical health), let me ask you to reevaluate your religion. Let me ask you to think more about spirituality. Now, that does not mean that you have to devalue your religion. It does not mean that you have to toss aside your religion. It just asks you to question if there might be some path to improve your connection to God? Some path to improve your connection to more people. Maybe, there could there be additional paths to improve your happiness, your sense of peace, and your overall sense of well-being?