Counselling and Psychotherapy Author, Consultant in Equalities and Diversity, Counselling and Self-Awareness Trainer
Religion and Belief
Sects and Groups within Religions
A subject about which the Prophets must turn in their graves over are the number of man-made sects that have been established, each claiming their version of the truth, or ritual and religious practice is the correct way. No Prophet created a sect or a division within their religion. They simply gave out a set of truths and principles to live by. One set of truths, one set of principles. Yet now we see all kinds of different groups, often displaying levels of intolerance to members of other sects or groups within their religion.
If religions are to have any relevance in the modern world their members must put aside their differences and return to the fundamental truths and principles. Our world is already fragmented in so many ways, so many differences being taken as reasons to persecute and oppress. Religion should be a force for right human +relations, for bringing people together. But if they cannot achieve this within their own religion, then there is little hope of bringing people together in the wider world.
So what are the basics to unite around? I would suggest the following:
There is One God, whatever name you might use.
It is better to forgive than to retaliate.
Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.
As you sow, so shall your reap, in this world or the next.
Live by these and you can dispense with all of the reasons people find to persecute and oppress people of different religions, or different traditions within their own religion.
Hypocrisy in Religion
Is it me, or am I just seeing too much hypocricy and falsehood when it comes to religion these days? It is absolutely clear what religion expects of you, and yet here we are at the dawn of the 21st century and we have so-called Christian leaders bombing countries for oil - and let's stop all the spin, we know it's a reality, we know who got the contracts in Iraq and who will get them in Libya. So, please, it is time the politicians of the world stopped being so stupid and stopped thinking their behaviours are not being seen for what they are.
And, please, let's be clear it is not just Christians who are out-of-step with their religion. We still have so-called Muslims who believe it is right to kill people indiscriminately, whether it's a suicide bombing or targetted specifically at individuals and groups who think or believe differently. And who actually believe it will get them into Paradise. It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic and, in some parts of the world, downright dangerous and inhumane
And then there is the Jewish faith. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour. But hey, there's some land we want to build on, we'll take it, yeah, and anyone who protests and throws rocks at us, we'll shoot them. Talk about bringing your faith into disrepute.
It is time for the true people of goodwill from all faiths to stand up for the true teachings of their religions, because if not, then things will get worse, and the next generation will learn a false view of their religion, and the falsehoods will become more and more entrenched in hearts, minds and actions, and the actions that stem from them will become more and more extreme. Is that what we want? If we don't change it's what we'll get.
Somewhere in Heaven are Moses, Jesus and Mohammed (peace be upon them) and they are sitting wondering what the hell humanity is doing and creating. I use these words with deliberation. And you know what, I bet they're best of friends. Now there's an example for the world to reflect on.
It seems to me that tolerance is acrucial quality and attitude that is desperately needed within world religions. There is so much 'we're right, you're wrong', and a readiness to attck or oppress those with different views and beliefs.
The Bad Act, the Good Act and the Pure Act
I don't wish to spend time differentiating between good actions and bad actions. These should be obvious to anyone of goodwill who follows a religion. But there is something more than the good act which I call the Pure Act. The pure act is an action that is good, but which is not tainted by personal motive. It is the action taken without linkage to seeking personal gain, whether in this world or in the life to come. In other words, the pure act is an act undertaken without any thought of receiving, for instance, blessings for the action. It may be a self-sacrificing act but the key is the motivation. Am I acting purely and simply in response to the need of another, or of my religion? Or is my motivation tainted by a sense of my being rewarded.
The parable of the Good Samaritan within Christianity is an example of a pure act. A heartfelt response to a fellow human being in need with no thought of any kind of gain for offering that assistance.
I don't say much but every now and then something occurs that I just have to comment on!