An essay donated by Diane Holder
Follow your beliefs, in love, without fear
I was about 10 when I decided that I could not be a religious person. The
only religion that I knew about was Christianity, so my real decision was not to
be Christian. There were two basic reasons that stopped me then, and still
prevent me from returning to my birth faith. The first was the idea that I,
simply because I was female, was born inferior to men, as a helper. As a
budding biologist, I found that hard to reconcile with what I saw in nature.
The second was the idea that good people who have never harmed another, but who
don't believe as I do, would be prevented from obtaining salvation.
For a while, science became my religion, I went to college and got degree
after degree, I worked and worked and then my life hit one of those inevitable
bumps that forced me to stop and take stock of myself. Only in one area did I
feel that I came up lacking. I was not a spiritual person. Older and wiser, I
took a second look at Christianity and found that my basic reasons for not being
a Christian still prevented me from adopting that faith, although I found some
good messages that I had no problems with. I looked to other faiths, and found
something that really astounded me.
There are some definite differences between the major religions, but for the
most part, the message; the essence of the message, is the same. The basic
concepts on how to treat others, especially the poor, weak and sick are all the
same. I am puzzled, to this day, that people are so ready to kill others, fight
others, and fear others based on the mechanistic differences between the
religions. I find it strange, because if people truly followed the basic
teachings of their religions, this should not occur.
I came to the conclusion that there are many different roads to the same place,
and it matters little where you start and what path you take, the end result is
the same. I began to read about psychology and pop physics and was astounded
that even here the same patterns that I found in many of the religions were
If there is a Satan, an evil sprit, or an incarnation of evil I would give it
the name 'fear'. I feel that all the actions of people of good faith that
cause pain to others, happen when people are afraid. Fear breeds intolerance,
and in my view, intolerance puts up a huge wall on that road to the sacred.
If fear is the major evil, then judgment of others is its handmaiden. We can
judge a persons actions as despicable, we can even punish that person if those
actions cause undue pain, or harm to others; but can we judge that person? Can
we really say that if we had walked in their shoes we would have turned out
differently? We can't for we will never be that other person. The only person
who we can judge is ourselves. Even then, can we really do that? Or is our
energy best spent trying to be the best person we are, rather than judging the
person we wished we were not? I don't know, after all I am not religious!
Yet when I see a new life start, a beautiful sunset, hear a child laugh, go to a
concert, watch an athlete perform, look at a work of art, a butterfly, a kids
painting, I can't help thinking that I have just caught a glimpse of the
divine. All these things come from things being fully and completely themselves
and being observed doing so. Buying something I want, getting another degree,
winning a competition, while pleasurable, don't give me that same feeling. At
the end of the day they don't really seem to matter as much.
To conclude, to the religious I say, please follow your faith, in love and
without fear. To the non-religious I say follow your heart, in love and
without fear. Hopefully we will all meet again at the end of
that road upon which we all are traveling. It is the only thing I can believe
on a spiritual level, I guess it is the scientist in me that maintains that if
there is a deity that created such a wonderful diversity of life, not just among
humans but all across nature, why would that same deity then say there is only
one way to reach it? Especially when it has gone to so much trouble to ensure
that the same message be received by so many religious and nonreligious scholars
alike -- albeit in different forms, and through different filters -- each
uniquely suited for a particular cultural condition.