There are many religions seeking to bring comfort and happiness to humanity, just as there are many treatments for a particular disease. All religions endeavor to help living beings avoid misery and find happiness. Although we may prefer one religious perspective to another…[E]ach religion works to lessen suffering and contribute to the world
-The Dali Lama
Beautifully said—if only I could completely agree with it. The Dali Lama often speaks of the “oneness” of all religion because, the way he sees it, all religions essentially have the same basic message: love thy neighbor, do unto others…, etc. Insofar as religion seeks to bring humanity together, its presence is a good thing.
But what about those times when religion does not bring peace, but a sword? What about when religion divides those whom it hopes to unite? There is a tendency by those who subscribe to the Dali Lama’s philosophy to then condemn religion as something undesirable. The thought goes something like this: so long as religion is uniting and benefitting us on earth we ought to allow it, but when it makes things or relationships difficult for us, it should be rejected.
So many people my age subscribe to this philosophy and end up thinking it doesn’t really matter what you believe so long as you consider yourself a “good person”. The problem with this is that you end up believing in nothing other than yourself. You are the authority. You are your god. And why should it be any other way—if religion is really just about what brings you comfort?
Personally, I think Pope Benedict’s definition of religion makes a lot more sense:
“True religion consists in love of God and of neighbor”
Love of neighbor is an important part of religion that we cannot neglect; but it must come from our love of God—a God with whom we have a relationship and a God who is not ourselves.
Love of God and love of neighbor: the two are inseparably linked.