Some Thoughts on Life and Religion…

English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...

How can any human be happy in life without religion? It’s possible but even when you’re not a ‘follower’ of any kind, you’ll still be lumped into a group by others who are/are mot.. You’ll be ‘branded’ as an agnosticatheist, a humanist, or any form of free-thinking follower of secularism

As anyone who knows me well enough will no doubt tell you; “Dave doesn’t ‘do’ religion!” That doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong for anyone else to hold religious beliefs, of whatever strain they might be, neither does it mean that I’m unable to see the good in many people, irrespective of their religious following.

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths…(Muhammad Ali)

But I can also take inspiration from various ‘religious’ leaders and/or theological teachings because, irrespective of the religious context, many of those words are actually little more than sensible guidelines for living a good life.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ…(Mahatma Gandhi)

Previous visitors will know I’ve written on the broad subject of religion several times in the past (see example). Religion has also been the subject of heated debate over a pint down the pub from time to time. Despite being one of the well-known taboo subjects for pub conversation, we have been known to touch upon it during our regular Sunday afternoon office hours sessions at the Fisherman’s Arms.

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness…(Dalai Lama)

I’m not averse to talking about religion with anyone however; what I vehemently object to is the radical and/or fundamentalist types. The evangelical individuals who almost forcibly ram their beliefs down the throats of others. If you need to pedal your religion don’t try ‘selling’ it to me, I’m likely to get a little fractious. A factor that any Mormon or Jehovah Witness ‘missionaries’ will probably testify to, after they’ve been unfortunate and/or stupid enough to come knocking on my front door!

Often it’s not the religious dogma that I actually find fault with, more the application of those religious ‘beliefs’ by humans. It matters not whether it is Christian theology, the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish principles for life or even the Six Articles of Faith aka the Iman (concept) within Islam. It’s how these are interpreted and applied in life by humans, to their own life and to the life of others, often to their own ends.

No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means…(George Bernard Shaw)

Over the centuries and still now unfortunately, intense religious belief has often been a danger to humanity. It has been the reason (or excuse) for so many conflicts between different groups and nations. Thousands upon thousands of lives have been snuffed out in wars waged in the name of religion. You see the bad part of most religions is actually down to its followers i.e. the human-factor.

No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion…(Abdul Kalam)

That said, there is a lot of good to be found in many of the religions and spiritual beliefs in our world. Most mainstream religious beliefs start off with a set of rules, tenets or instructions and guidelines for life. Take for example the Ten Commandments of Christianity (which actually dovetail with Islam to an extent), or the concepts of Hinduism or Buddhism, even those (arguably) less ‘main-stream beliefs such as the Rastafari Movement or some Pagan beliefs and elements of the Wiccan Rede have their merits.

But there is also far too much hypocrisy in many who profess to hold strong religious beliefs, a predominance of superiority and self-importance, not to mention those people who wear their religion simply as a badge or uniform. Or, even more worryingly, as a conduit to their control over others.

We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection…(Dalai Lama)

Any religious belief should be something that actually shines from the inside outwards; benefiting both the ‘believer’ and consequently those around him/her. Although he probably won’t mind being described as an ‘Evangelical’ Christian, Nick Vujicic (see below) is one of the few people holding strong religious beliefs, that I’m happy to also describe as an inspirational human.

Having been born with the extremely rare Tetra-ameli Syndrome, Nick struggled mentally, emotionally and physically in his early life but eventually, he came to terms with his disability. I think you must agree, Nick comes across as a person whose words and deeds also show; he’s a valuable motivational member of the human race. That kind of gives him a right to tell others about his experiences, or call it preaching if you will.

Don’t be angry about what you haven’t got, be grateful for what you have…(Nick Vujicic)

Forget about any of the religious connotations in the things Nick talks about for a moment; if he can live a life without limbs and also be happy, what have you (or any of us) really got to complain about? Which brings me around to one of my great maxims for life;

No matter how bad you think things are, there is always someone worse off than you are!

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