I Identify as Jewish because my mother’s mother’s mother was Jewish, and I have a Hebrew name, and of course because of the food, but I think of my Jewishness as more race than religion. I identify as Christian because I believe in the things that Jesus espoused (love and forgiveness). I identify as Buddhist for similar reasons. I think of my Christianity and Buddhism as more philosophy than religion.
Not that I am a non-believer. I have a lot of faith, but what I believe is that the divine is something that we don’t, and most likely can’t, understand. Our eyes and ears can only see and hear a small fraction of the spectrum of sights and sounds and if we can’t even see and hear everything around us how can we possibly expect to understand all of the mysteries of the universe. I think it is our instinct to try to make sense of the things we can’t understand and so we create stories to make sense of it all and those stories, while different in many ways, are also very similar.
I think if you asked yourself, “What would Jesus do?” and “What would Buddha do?” the answers would be remarkably similar. I think those two stories are (at their core) the same in the same way that different languages have different words for the same things. Not only are those stories the same, but the people telling them (and all people) are, at their core, the same as well.
People hoping for peace in the world will often say that there is more that unites us than divides us and maybe it sounds like that is what I am saying too, but it’s not. There are similarities and differences, things that unite us and things that divide us, and we get to choose which we want to focus on. Maybe there are way more things that divide us. Maybe there’s only one thing that unites us.
What do you want to focus on?
I read somewhere recently that optimism is a practice not a personality type and people often refer to their religions as practice as well. I would say the same of focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us. These are all acts of faith and they require practice.