No one has the answers to everything.
Quite often, one of our posts on Facebook brings an enthusiastic discussion about religious beliefs, generally with one side doing their best to convert the others. While I always enjoy and appreciate everyone's comments and exchanges, it pains me when a religious group begins to be so dogmatic that they can't accept the possibility of someone else having a valid point.
The problem, as I see it, is that every religion believes that they are the true one, and that's what causes all of the division all over the world. Christians adhere to the Bible, a book that has been translated and re-written by just about everyone in history — even Thomas Jefferson. Gnostics go by the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written at the same time as most of the Bible, but only translated once. Those who believe in Spirituality believe that their connection is directly with God, while Jews go by the Torah and Muslims go by the Koran. Buddhists go by the Four Noble Truths and Hindus adhere to the Vedas. There are many, many belief systems and each one has their own sacred text.
Who's to say which one is right and which isn't? Some of these beliefs are thousands of years old — without making any changes, while others are re-written and revised throughout history. How can we say which is true and which is not? Wars are started over these concepts and belief systems because believers are adamant that everyone else believe in the exact same way that they do. The thing that fascinates me about all of this is that everyone has a Creator and everyone has a primary Prophet or Teacher. Only the names are different. Many of the original texts follow along the same lines then man and ego stepped-in and that's where the beliefs begin to differ with each other. Yes, I've studied most of these belief systems, so I do know a little something about this topic.
It's sad, because everyone says that the Creator loves us and cares for us, yet people kill or attack others in his name. Once the churches began to gather and amass more followers, in every case they became egotistic — wanting more power and more wealth. They began to revise their belief systems to make followers more dependent on the organization, rather than their ability to connect with the Creator directly. Christianity loves to quote the Bible, but the Catholic church re-wrote it numerous times, creating concepts and beliefs to give them more power. The Protestant belief system came about because King Henry VIII wanted a divorce, so he created his own religion and edited the Bible to suit his purposes. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that I'm aware of that has a track record of re-writing their sacred text; all the others have stayed with their original versions. So what does that tell us about our belief systems?
Growing up in a Baptist household and being at the church several times each week, I learned very early on that not only did my parents not have the answers to my questions — but neither did our pastor, his wife (who was my teacher) or any other church officials. Their response to me was always, "Because that's what we believe!" I'm sorry, but that answer doesn't always work for life's questions, and it was that answer that prompted me to learn about other religious beliefs in order to find the answers that I most needed.
That's what ultimately brought me to Spirituality. There are no man-made rules to keep track of. No one demands a percentage of my money to sustain their personal lifestyle. Everyone is respected and most of all, Free Will is honored and respected. Free Will, as ordained by God, is one of the greatest gifts that we have. We can choose our own path and go the direction that our soul leads us. We get to choose what we believe and how. Spirituality allows me to connect directly with God. There is no middle-man to intervene on my behalf. I can connect with the Angels, who are God's Messengers. What a beautiful experience this has been, and it allows me to feel secure in my beliefs and not feel that I need to convert anyone to them.
So why is it that those who follow God feel compelled to force others to believe as they do? Is it for their own personal validation? We know that the more followers a religious entity has, the more money they have coming into them so that they can build enormous houses of worship, maintain expensive trappings and homes for their leaders and appear to be more powerful. Yes, they say that it's for their ministry, but do they really need multimillion dollar facilities to teach and share with others? Here's a cold, cruel fact — a bigger, fancier building doesn't make you more spiritual.
For nearly 27 years, I was a wedding planner, and I've been in every type of church or chapel there is. It's amazing working with these organizations on the business side. It's all about money — not about service. Not everyone gets to see that side of religion, but I did. Yes, there were a few exceptions, but for the most part, it was difficult and expensive for a couple to have a wedding in their own church. Fees for everything and several wanted to charge me fees, as well as charging the couple. It was all about money and power, and there are no exceptions to that statement.
I'm not here to have a debate about religious or spiritual beliefs. Only to make a few of statements about it:
- I respect your beliefs and expect you to respect mine and others on this page.
- God gave us Free Will, so don't try to force beliefs onto others.
- Do your own research about your personal beliefs. If you believe in the Bible, learn more about the history of it. If you believe in any of the other belief systems, learn more about them, too. A little knowledge won't hurt anyone, and it will probably help deepen your faith.
- Every religion or belief systems has its good points and its bad ones. No one is inherently right or wrong.
- Religions and spiritual beliefs are just as much about culture as anything else, so respect those who believe differently.
- We won't have all the answers until we die and then it'll be a little too late. I've always said that the ultimate joke on humanity would be that God didn't support any of these religions.
The bottom line is that just because I personally love turquoise blue, it doesn't mean that I don't also love pink, purple, green, yellow, red, and orange. It also doesn't mean that everyone else has to love turquoise blue. There are a lot of colors out there, and each person has the right to like whichever one speaks to them at any point in their life.
In the long run, I have to go with a quote from the Dali Lama "My religion is kindness."
Teri Van Horn