July 18     

Today's quotation:

Depending on the use to which it is put, religion can be a demonic force.  Religion should bring us together, but it is exploited by some to create greater schisms among us.  Nothing could be more unfortunate.  Religion must always be for the people.  People do not exist for the sake of religion.  This must be the fundamental guideline of religion in the twenty-first century.

Daisaku Ikeda

Today's Meditation:

We've all seen ways in which religion can be exploited in order to harm other people.  It's truly a shame that people do this, but it seems to be human nature to use elements that are supposed to exist for our good in order to do things that are bad.  Over the years, many human beings have used religion to make themselves feel better, to spread their own personal beliefs, to make other people suffer-- for almost any bad purpose that you can think of.  They use manipulative strategies such as guilt, intimidation, fear, and ignorance in the name of their religion, all the while making people's lives less fulfilling rather than more so.

And of course, this is an incredible shame because religion should be something that we trust.  It should be a part of our lives that we don't doubt.  Its motives should be pure, and its effects should be always positive.  And when we find out that some people in a religious group are trying to manipulate or harm us, unfortunately, we lose faith not just in those particular people, but in the religion as well.  It's little wonder that people are leaving religious affiliations in droves.

Religion can play a very important part in our lives, but we've seen enough people who are caring and compassionate who don't have any sort of religious affiliation to know that religion isn't absolutely necessary for us.  We can be Christians or Moslems or Jews without belonging to any particular church, without spending our Saturday or Sunday mornings in a certain building listening to someone else's version of our faith.  Very often we've seen religion bring people down, limit them, and manipulate them, even abuse them, and if that's what religion is doing to someone, it's time to drop that religion.

Religion could be a very positive way of bringing people together in love in a spirit of service, but very often our "religion" is little more than a social club where we meet with like-minded people.  If we are a part of a religion, then it's important that we give to that religion, and make sure that no one is harming us or our loved ones.  I don't believe that religion is irrelevant, but I know that as long as religions stick to dogma and allow themselves to be used, they're going to continue to become less and less important in our lives, and in the societies in which we live.

Questions to consider:

Why do fewer and fewer people identify with established religions nowadays?

What kinds of positive things can religions bring us?  Negative?

Why do so many people involved in religion try to maintain and expand divisions between themselves and others?

For further thought:

There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to person and beast, it is all a sham.

Anna Sewell

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