Mar 212011
 

So the other day in religion class we got on the topic of Buddhism. Don’t ask me how because I couldn’t tell you. I felt like it was enough of an accomplishment that I knew to write down words pertaining to the topic when the teacher left the room for a bit. So myself and the two other students (the third was sick) all came up with similar ideas: meditation, prayer, reincarnation, karma, etc.

And after the class was over I found myself still thinking about Buddhism and the stories of the monks who dedicate their whole lives to study and to their beliefs. I thought about the countless religions in the world and how they are all so sure that they are “right.” That what they practice is the one truth. The one way. And as Catholics, I’m pretty sure we all feel the same way.

Most Christian faiths share the same general beliefs concerning the Holy Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that we are baptized into the faith, that Jesus died for our salvation and that there is a heaven.

Yes I realize I’m being painfully generic, but bear with me for a moment. Then we look at those “other” religions: Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Some religions believe in multiple gods, reincarnation and read from different sacred texts than we do. And each group is so sure its members are worshiping correctly. So, who’s right?

As a Catholic I obviously raise my hand and say “we are,” but as a global citizen and overall curious individual I still have to wonder. I just don’t see how it’s possible that a Buddhist monk who dedicated his entire life to understanding the world, never harmed anyone, and prayed 24/7 wouldn’t end up in a good place after death. Or how a child in an African village who was never exposed to Christian philosophy but prayed regularly to what he was taught wouldn’t either. And then there’s always the scary thought in the back of my mind that maybe we’re the “wrong” ones. Maybe this whole “nirvana” concept is right and we’re all coming back as something else. But the thoughts that overpower these aren’t so much “thoughts” at all; it’s faith.

When you strip religions to the core, the one common thing you’ll find with all of them is faith. Each group has faith that what they are doing/worshiping/believing is correct. So who are we, people of faith, to judge others just practicing their own? Don’t point fingers. Don’t look down at other people’s practices. So what if someone stops five times a day to pray towards Mecca? Maybe we can learn something from them and take specific time out of our day to pray. In my opinion, we all have something to learn from each other, and if we stopped yelling “I’m right, you’re wrong” so much and actually listened to people of different faiths, maybe the world would be a more unified place.

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