[Should We] Adhere To A Single Religion?

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    [Should we] adhere to a single religion?

    Okay, here’s a touchy question. Do we really need religion? Can spirituality exist without religious dogma? These are only a few of the questions being asked about religion today. Right alongside a rise in fundamentalism, we’re seeing a rise in questioning of the fundamentals. Do you remember the day you chose your religion? Few people do because few people get to choose their religion. Generally, it’s a series or cluster of beliefs implanted in our minds at a young age, based on our parents’ religious beliefs. And for many, the desire to belong to a family or tribe overrides our rational decision-making process and gets us to adopt beliefs that may be highly damaging.

    While religion can have immense beauty, it can also have immense dogma that causes guilt, shame, and fear-based worldviews. Today the majority of people on planet Earth who are religious choose a single religion to subscribe to. But this percentage is shrinking as more and more people, especially millennials, are adopting the model “Spiritual But Not Religious.” I believe that religion was necessary for human evolution, helping us develop guidelines for good moral conduct and cooperation within the tribe hundreds and thousands of years ago. But today, as humanity is more connected than ever and many of us have access to the various wisdom and spiritual traditions of the world, the idea of adhering to a singular religion might be obsolete. Furthermore, I believe that the blind acceptance of religious dogma is holding us back in our spiritual evolution as a species.

    The core of a religion may be beautiful spiritual ideas. But wrapped around them are usually centuries of outdated Brules that few bother to question. Can a person be a good Muslim without fasting during Ramadan? A good Christian without believing in sin? A good Hindu who eats beef? Is religion an aging model that needs to be updated? A better alternative, in my opinion, is not to subscribe to one religion but to pick and choose beliefs from the entire pantheon of global religions and spiritual practices. I was born in a Hindu family, but over the years, I’ve created my own set of beliefs derived from the best of every religion and spiritual book I’ve been exposed to. We don’t pick one food to eat every day. Why must we pick one religion? Why can’t we believe in Jesus’ model of love and kindness, donate 10 percent of our income to charity like a good Muslim, and also think that reincarnation is awesome? There is much beauty in the teachings of Christ, the Sufism of Islam, the Kabbalah from Judaism, the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita, or the Buddhist teachings of the Dalai Lama. Yet humanity has widely decided that religion should be absolutist: In short, pick one and stick to it for the rest of your life. And worse— pass it on to your children through early indoctrination, so they feel they have to stick to one true path for the rest of their lives. Then repeat for generations.

    Choose a religion if it gives you meaning and satisfaction, but know that you don’t have to accept all aspects of your religion to fit in. You can believe in Jesus and not believe in hell. You can be Jewish and enjoy a ham sandwich. Don’t get trapped in preset, strict definitions of one singular path, thinking you must accept all of a particular tribe’s beliefs. Your spirituality should be discovered, not inherited.

    Lakhiani, Vishen (2016-05-10). The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms (pp. 26-27). Rodale Books

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