I'm just going to blatantly admit right now that I am not religious of any sort. I do not deny there is a higher being nor there isn't one; you can say that I'm agnostic - I listen, research and try to grasp an understanding on beliefs out there in our world and try to learn from good teachings.
However, what struck me (whilst I was browsing through a friend's commitment to volunteer for a Christian group) was there is many religiously labelling themselves; religious identification. I am no stranger to religion: I grew up in a Buddhist home, baptised as a Christian, converted to Islam, and followed my mother to Jehovah's Witness congregations. I have always been a dubious child, often questioning the teachings and understanding of a particular religion. Now, as an adult, I can clearly state that religion isn't for me. I just admire the faith and passion of believers and often ponder where their strengths in their belief stem from - Is there really a God and this is channelled through believers despite the difference in religion?
Looking through briefly on the teachings of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, shows many similarities about a 'God', kindness towards others and basically, a decent human being with moral standards. Yeah, this topic has probably been covered over a gazillion times, but it just fathoms me why there are so many religions out there when, in all essence, promote the same principles?
Personally, I think 'God' is pretty much the religious symbolism for 'Love'. Damn, why not just make 'Love' a universal religion?
When you research what 'love' is, books or just simply searching on the Web, love is unconditional, knows no boundaries, comes naturally when you care for the well-being of others. One cannot explain why they love another person - isn't that why love is often associated with being 'crazy, unfathomable and blind'?
Deborah Anapol stated (November 25, 2011):
"Love is bigger than you are. You can invite love, but you cannot dictate how, when, and where love expresses itself. You can choose to surrender to love, or not, but in the end love strikes like lightening, unpredictable and irrefutable. You can even find yourself loving people you don't like at all. Love does not come with conditions, stipulations, addendums, or codes. Like the sun, love radiates independently of our fears and desires.
Love is inherently free. It cannot be bought, sold, or traded. You cannot make someone love you, nor can you prevent it, for any amount of money. Love cannot be imprisoned nor can it be legislated. Love is not a substance, not a commodity, nor even a marketable power source. Love has no territory, no borders, no quantifiable mass or energy output."
This is a great read from this website: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-without-limits/201111/what-is-love
If we were to love everyone, despite our differences, although easier said than done, we would not see crime. Everything said from the list of different religions I listed mentions being kind and good to others, bear no grudge or hatred, and having respect for others - isn't that what unconditional love means?
Yes, it is hard to find unconditional love as we also cannot force love but maybe if we lived by the teachings of all the religions (omitting different religious aspects and bias), maybe we'll someday learn to find peace and love for others.
If we loved more, we would show respect and understanding, and with respect and understanding for others, we try and suppress our human flaws, whether it be anger, greed, selfishness and etc. When humanity tries to suppress or fix our errs (not saying that we'll do it perfectly) and love each other unconditionally, ultimately I think, we'll succeed in making our world a better place.
I am not shunning religion as a whole, but I just think that if the invisible walls/boundaries of labelling/associating oneself from a particular religious group, were to be broken down, that is when we would find peace. Sadly, it is in the human nature to be associated and be confined within a "group mentality" (For example, I call myself a blogger, foodie blah blah blah).
I feel that:
The word 'God' is the symbolic personification/embodiment of 'Love'. We often associate love as mysterious and unconditional; it is the better part of humanity and despite all our flaws and differences, there is a part of us that wants to love, and create an idyllic, loving environment within our society. Love manifests itself through relationships - family, friends, pets and others we create an association with.
Furthermore, I find that humans use religion as a source of hope, looking towards 'God' for answers when I believe 'God' is in us all - if we look deep within ourselves and learn what Love can teach us, the most answers are already there. When I say "religion is the root of all evil", it simply means that humans have used, twisted and bent religious teachings to supplement their greed for power and control over others who believe in a faith.
Most importantly, and ultimately, like everyone says: You've got to love yourself before you can love others.
I should try to make an example from what I've stated. As an experiment, I shall attempt these two statements:
1. Love those around you - taking time to appreciate and do not take for granted the time they are with you. Show small, but genuine actions of love (call loved ones to tell them that you love them, do something that pleases them, etc.), without expecting anything in return.
2. Patience and Kindness - I've got a damn well fiery temper when provoked at the slightest. I shall try to hold my tongue and abstain from any conversation rife in anger; I shall only speak with calmness and kindness.
Wish me luck!