Saturday, 27 June 2015


I don’t consider myself to be a religious person. I was brought up a Catholic and I was lead to believe that catholicism is the only right way in this world. Then, through family ties, I encountered Islam, that also claimed to be the only way of this world.

Years later, I was introduced to Jehovah’s witnesses, when they knocked at our family door once, and, unsurprisingly enough, they claimed their religion was the only way to go.

When I worked in China, I found that people still pray to an infinite number of Gods - just like our ancestors throughout history in ancient Greece and Latin Rome. Heck, my name even comes from a Greek and Roman Goddess. Read any kind of European mythology and you will find numerous Gods in every country.

Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of conversing with great Rabbis from the United States and Israel and, low and behold, they believe their religion is the salvation of human beings.

I’ve read the Torah, the Vedic Scriptures from India, the Holy Bible, the Holy Qur’an, the Japanese Bushinko, the Egyptian and Tibetan books of the Dead. I’ve read about the Bonn religion, Russian and Greek orthodox religions and Hinduism. I’ve studied Shamanism and Buddhism and I could mention many more.

Yet, in 2009, I converted to Buddhism, not because I was seeking a religion. I’m openly, and honestly, not good at following any set of religious rules and rituals. I’m not even capable of having, or following, ritualistic patterns in my everyday life, let alone my spiritual one. I never get out of bed at the same time daily. I never eat at regular meal times and the list could go on. I guess I just don’t have enough self-discipline in that area, or perhaps deep down I feel it’s all a waste of time.

In all honesty, I probably make a terrible Buddhist. I don’t follow any kind of formalised, or institutionalised indoctrination and I don’t pray conventionally. I don’t chant properly or frequently enough. My meditation practice is falling a little by the wayside and I’ve probably broken a few of the vows I took when I converted.

Yet, I don’t go out of my way to harm people or other living beings. I don’t go out of my way to harm the environment we live in. In fact, the three main Buddhist principles I try and follow every single day of my life are: love, kindness and compassion towards other living beings even though it’s not always easy. I’ve always said that mosquitoes will be the reason I’ll stay in Samsara for all eternity and my thoughts of wanting to slap around a few high-maintenance, pretentiously demanding, and thoughtless tourists on holiday is very very remote from being a good Buddhist.

None the less, I don’t go around slapping people every time I feel like I want to. On the contrary,  every day of my life, I still try to make a tiny little difference in someone else’s life and do something to avoid harming the natural world we live in. Sadly, mosquitoes are excluded from this conversation. 

The atheists among you would argue that you don’t need to be religious to be kind and you’d be absolutely right. Religion doesn’t teach us to be kind. Your parents, your education, the very foundations of your moral and ethical being teach you to be kind. You don’t have to be religious to be a kind person.

We can argue that you don’t need a God to tell you to be compassionate, which is absolutely correct. You can learn to be compassionate from a friend, a relative, from doing volunteer work, from empathising with people in circumstances different, or less fortunate than your own. You certainly don’t need a supreme being to show you how to be loving.

In fact, my strong belief is that we’re already, naturally, creatures of love. We were born from an act of love and anyone who has ever done something nice for someone else will also know how good it feels to see someone happy thanks to something we’ve done. It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world.

However, I do understand that many people in the world find these qualities difficult and need guidance to adhere to them. If that guidance comes from their God, and makes them happy and better people, then so be it. Who am I to say it’s wrong. I fully understand that a lot of people need a supreme being to believe in for their own peace of mind when things go wrong, when they need help and when there is nothing in their lives but despair. 

I completely comprehend the need many people have to believe in supernatural powers that can save them. For many, faith is all there is and why should that be wrong? As long as it harms no others in the process.

My personal reasons for converting to Buddhism were:

I’m not capable of being an Atheist. I believe that, in whatever form and with whatever name anyone wishes to call it, there is a very powerful energetic source of all creation out there. Ever since studying physics back in college and metaphysics during my university days, I’ve adhered to the philosophy that the beginning of all things is energy and that energy, by its very nature can be magnified, reduced and transformed but it can never be destroyed. 

Since all energy is derived from atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons, which are particles that form the basic composition of everything. We are no more than a bundle of unified energy on two legs. Of course, this is only the opinion of a ranting woman. I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me.

For the first time in my life, during any religious gathering, or retreat in this case, I heard a Buddhist monk, who I now love dearly and who I consider to be my heart teacher, say: “Buddhism respects all religions, beliefs and cultures.” His words resonated so deeply within me, that I knew I was in the right place and among my kind of people. 

In fact, in all the time I’ve spent in India and Nepal, among Tibetan people and those who have chosen the path of Buddhism, I’ve never heard a bad word said against any religion.

The point of saying all this though, is not to convert anyone to Buddhism nor convince anyone that Buddhism is the way to go. Not at all.

My point is, if one major religion of the world, like Buddhism, can accept and respect all other religions and ideologies, why the hell can’t all the other religions? and yes, surprisingly enough, Buddhism is one of the major religions since studies estimate that close to1 billion people practice it on a global scale. 

Is a question of arrogance and pride?  Is it because each religion wants to be right about its ideology and beliefs? Or, can it simply be a question of what it’s always been about; politics, manipulation and control. Secular powers preying on the beliefs of human being based on existential insecurities. 

I’ll address, more in depth, what I mean in my next article - Religious Ideologies.

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