The Evolution of Religion from Adolescent to Adult
“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” -Dalai Lama
I adored the stained glass figures that greeted me at the door and I craved the sound of the guitars steel strings as it was carefully strummed. The songs, the hymns, sung by young and old for hundreds of years still put my mind at ease as I used to settle into my pew and now my bed.
The pastor’s booming voice doesn’t break through my wall of thought anymore. He spoke of loving thy neighbor and being the light in the darkness. Each sermon ended with him stating “Don’t let Sunday be the only day you stop and think of God.” Yet, even though this was preached to me every week that is exactly what I did.
I would leave the stained glass building as the same hypocrite I was before I entered it. Nothing in my heart had changed. Yet, I believed I was a better person because I graced the church’s stone steps with my delicate feet. The lack of empathy and sympathy I felt for my fellow man was still there, and shown through my every word and action constantly contradicting each sermon that Jesus ever gave. Gradually, the blind faith with which I had followed Christianity as a child drifted away and left me hollow. My prayers contained no meaning for me and because, in my heart, I didn’t care it was as if God had ceased caring as well.
I learned later that religion is a relationship. Carving out time every day is necessary for the relationship to take root and grow. Just as it is pertinent to speak to a best friend everyday, it is equally important to speak to God often.
This is what I had forgotten, and as I turned inward to find myself, I, ironically, grew further from myself.
One night I lay in bed and pondered whether I should look into a different religion. I had, and still have a great respect for Buddhism and its many philosophies, but it occurred to me that I had never read the whole Bible, so I made it my goal to read a chapter of the Bible every night and if I felt abandoned by the time I was done; I would find a new religion.
I am now 2/3rds of the way through the Bible and have taken each book’s unique message to heart. The Old testament taught me about having complete faith in God while the New Testament taught me that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. I don’t go to church any longer. I have tried to go back and take in the beat if the drums and the silky smooth voices of the singers, but I enjoy to be alone in the quiet of my room more than in the noise if the atrium. My brain and my heart are now my temples. The only philosophies I listen to are those in the bible, and at the base of each of those is kindness.