We live in a multi-cultural world, where political correctness was designed to maintain a level of mutual respect and understanding. However, when our beliefs don’t quite fit into the establishment, they can indicate distrust or even disrespect…but even when a part of the global establishment embraces those beliefs, in other parts of the world those beliefs are not acceptable. Regardless of what we believe, as long as we do not abuse our beliefs to justify acts of violence, we are entitled to the level of religious freedom that enables us to pursue self-realisation through whichever religion. (It should be noted that violence takes many forms: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual/religious etc. This also includes neglect, which is defined as the failure to care for those aspects)
Although countless of athiest keep an open mind toward the spiritual, many are rather nihilistic toward the subject…To the point, where they cannot maintain ‘normal’ relationships with spiritual and/or religious practitioners of any kind. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, where any faith or lack thereof is concerned. We feel annoyed or resentful, when others display a certain disregard toward what we think or feel, but that should not mean we have to change our entire belief system to accommodate them. Any philosophical or mental construct, even peace, can be perceived as an insult, dependent on the situation.
On a related note, we all have an acquaintance or two that we avoid theological conversations with. No matter how hard we try, we often agree to disagree. However, for as long as neither party is forced to submit to the beliefs of the other, there can be a modicum of freedom.
We only have collective freedom of expression, as long as we display compassion, when our opinions or beliefs are questioned… After all, verbal or physical aggression has never turned anyone into a true believer. Conversely, unquestioning submission to a belief, particularly when forced, cannot bring peace. It can never lead us to the truth. Moreover, without occasionally pushing the boundaries of religion or spirituality, where would be the development? How could we strive to attain higher levels of experiential knowledge?
This leads us to the question, why are some so easily offended, when others do not share their beliefs or outright deny their possible merits? (1.) Desire (2.) Attachment (3.) Ignorance
(1.) Desire: When we do not share our beliefs with another, it can put a strain on the relationship from the word go. Their priorities often wildly differ from our own. However, in life, we are bound to desire acceptance, unless we understand that not everyone can or will accept us. If we do not understand this, then we are far more likely to attempt to change others or ourselves to gain social acceptance. Although such desires do not have to be self-serving. They are only rooted in good intentions in rare cases, but especially then it is of profound importance to maintain boundaries and respect that others muse learn to make their own decision. It is not our right to choose for them.
Being accepted comes from showing acceptance without causing physical and/or psychological harm in the process. Without the aim to control or dominate. However, if we cannot accept ourselves, how can we accept anyone else?
In numerous cultures, women are perceived as second-class citizens. Saudi Arabia and now Pakistan, for instance. In addition, they are held responsible for the actions of men around them. In reoccurring textbook examples of abuse, they are held liable for the desire they inflame, which frequently leads to sexual assault. Upon rejection of romantic or sexual advances, they are scolded with sulfuric acid or even burnt alive, as a disincentive for other women. This serves as a means to show them what may happen to them should they refuse to comply. Fear becomes the ultimate weapon of control to fulfil mens worldly desires reinforced through a system of oppressive religious laws that currently strives for global domination.
(2.) Attachment: When we cling to faith, as if it was a life-raft, there is going to be a conflict of interest. Not everyone will want to float on it with us. Our attachment to religious or spiritual beliefs may enable one person to get through the day, but other people may not feel the same way. I’ve encountered plenty of men, women and children that do not share the same beliefs as their relatives. Some weep and pray for their souls still, as they cannot bear the notions that they will not share a place in the afterlife with their loved ones (which is simply not true, but their expectations can make it so!)
When we love unconditionally, all we long for is happiness, regardless of what shape it may take. For what it is worth, they could worship Lucifer, the Light-Bringer or former Sun-God, and we would let them get on with it. (as long as there is no animal or human sacrifice) For as long as they are free and happy to make their own choices, we are content to let them be. That is the difference between love and attachment. True love depends on non-interference without the urge for the object/subject of our affection to satisfy our needs and wants.
(3.) Ignorance: Our lack of knowledge always becomes the source of someone else’s power to do with as they please. It is the cornerstone of inequality, fear and hatred.
It is the ignorance of our true nature that prevents us from realising that we are all connected, no matter what we believe. For as long as kindness and open-mindedness is not an integral aspect of our religious practices, they can never bear any other fruit than resentment. When we perceive others as an extension of our own self, we cannot see them for who they truly are: a vibrant, unique part of a greater whole that we are also a part of. By harming them, we only harm ourselves. By liberating them, we can liberate ourselves. Ignorance is a grave betrayal to our spiritual/religious beliefs, as it leads us to view ourselves as seperate from our fellow man. Worst case scenario, it fuels our ego to the point where we view our beliefs superior to theirs…
Ignorance may be bliss for a while, but eventually it leads to immense suffering, when everything comes crashing down…when we have no choice other than to accept the reality that we’ve been denying all along. As is stated in the Upanishads, human beings cannot live without challenges. They cannot live without meaning. We are driven by a deep, inner urge to achieve the impossible, to know the unknown, to shed any and all ignorance in order to arrive at the Absolute Truth
Thou Art That🌹