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Faith, Religion and Spirituality

August 15, 2011

I apologize for my silence last week, but I could not find a window to write, I was in between two trips with my little ones, and it was hectic.

This week, I decided to tackle a polemic subject, but a very important one in my opinion. There are volumes to speak on the topic of Faith, Religion and Spirituality, but I just want to share my personal views on this vast subject.

symbols

I was raised as a Catholic and grew up in a country where 99% of the people were Catholic too, nobody questioned my beliefs and I shared them with pretty much everybody I knew. I spent a lot of time in France and there too, in spite of the fact that there was more diversity, the "official" religion was Catholicism as well.

It wasn't until I moved to the US, that I was suddenly exposed to many different religions and views of the world in this respect. I have to say that I never doubted my faith in the process, but I realized that GOD can be seen in many different ways.

Realizing this fact put me in a brand new spiritual path: MY OWN. I realized that having faith, does not necessarily mean being part of one particular religion, and spiritual growth has to come from the inside out and not the opposite. As valuable as many of the Catholic teachings where to me, I had to find deep in my heart, my real truth.

To me, Religions are all worthy of respect, but they are nevertheless human institutions, and therefore, not perfect. Some of the teachings or practices of many religions are not always worthy of God, so, we can belong to a religion, but we can't be blind about this fact.
Also it is dangerous and unrealistic to believe that any single religion possesses the whole truth. I believe that the major risk in belonging to any religion or even in being agnostic, for that matter, is becoming too polarized and foster separation instead of unity amongst our fellow human beings.

In fact, it is interesting to see how many parallels one can find in different religion doctrines.
As one of my favorite phrases states: "Every religion is like a different flower in the garden of GOD". When people become too attached or lost into the details of their religion, they loose sight of what is really important and they start to see separation and conflict. We should always remember that before we are black or white, jewish or catholic, men or women, etc. we are human beings and we should strive for unity not separation. I am sure that is God's will too.

No long ago I learned about the Bahá'i Faith, one of the youngest of the world's independent religions. Interestingly they call it "Faith" as opposed to "Religion", which I think it is quite appropriate, considering their message of unity. I personally found their message to be in line with the world we live in, while bringing the teachings and values of most ancestral religions. I can't imagine any person of real faith disagreeing with any of their core beliefs (outlined in their website's home page), it is worth a look: http://www.bahai.org

The COEXIST bumper sticker is one of my favorites, it shows the symbols of different religions or currents of thought and its message is simple but powerful: it is all about tolerance and respect.

coexist

No matter how fulfilled or joyful we are with our own beliefs or religion, we cannot and should not try to impose it on others. We can certainly share our views and opinions (without being pushy!), and if people around us are curious they will find ways to learn more, but it is not our job to bring people into our path.

As one of my favorite authors (Deepak Chopra) puts it: "GOD is not an entity, but rather an experience", We need to experience GOD in our own lives for our faith to be real, and it is a very personal experience! Our Spiritual journey in this life is unique and we have to respect everybody else's. As well as we have to respect those that do not have any Spiritual belief at all.

I personally feel really thankful that I had a religious upbringing, because it opened a window into the realm of faith and spirituality, but I am also very thankful for having being exposed to other views, other beliefs, other religions, in order to grow and find my own path. I feel that much stronger about my faith now, because it is mine, I am experiencing God at a personal level.

So let's just remember that no matter where we are in the Spiritual spectrum, we all deserve respect.

Have a great week!

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