Monday, March 7, 2011

A Plea for Religious Tolerance in the Bible Belt

This blog was dedicated at the outset to covering both politics and religion. Yet I've neglected to write much about religion recently. Today, I want to start making up for that oversight by providing an interesting perspective on religion that has been seldom offered on this blog. The post poses a challenge to how many Americans think of religion. I can guarantee that it will be worth your time. Without further ado...

Hello Gadson Review readers!

First, a thank you to Marcus himself for his continuous brilliantly stated insight into the current state of the world’s politics. A second thank you to Marcus for letting me invade with my own $0.02.

Clearly, Marcus is an expert on politics, including the numerous tangents that the subject brings. This will be a bit of a departure from politics, delving into the realm of religion, which for me, always stirs interesting perspectives.

Where Marcus and I live is in the heart of the Bible belt. There are signs everywhere that say “Jesus.” When I first arrived in the Delta and saw these in peoples’ yards, I thought there were so many people trying to express their frustrations in the world. I could just imagine people saying “Oh, I had such a bad day. Jesus.” People couldn’t actually be serious with those, right? Boy was I wrong. So that led to a fascinating investigation on the mentality of religion and philosophy. I was born and raised in a Buddhist household, which I believe is much more a way of living life than it is a centralized religion. What Buddhism teaches is how to rid yourself of any misery, any sorrow, any suffering, and to live a truly happy life. Of course, there are much more sophistications to the teachings than I am expressing here, but this is the general underlying philosophy. It is a universal language that we can all speak, and thus reminds me that we’re all equals in this world: we all suffer, and we are all trying to find a way out of it. Most of the time, Buddhists find this in meditation and learning from the different Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ teachings: nothing is permanent, for change is the only constant.

But I get sideways looks for being different. Do Buddhists believe in God? Why don’t Buddhists believe in God? As a matter of fact, Deltans, I do believe in God, but in a different sense. I believe that there is a God in everyone, that everyone has the power to have unconditional love for each other, the wholesome goodness and purity of the heart, and the power to change the world. For Buddhists, everyone and anyone can become a God (or a Buddha/Bodhisattva). It requires a lot of work (over many lifetimes of reincarnation, which is another subject for discussion at a later time), but it is possible. So, there are such things as Christian Buddhists. Or Catholic Buddhists. Or just Buddhists.

Thus, I challenge the Deltans of the world to look into the greater philosophy of the world, look past the sign in the front lawn that declares a dedication to only one inspirational person, and put that dedication into each and every being. It’s amazing what we would all be able to see: the beauty in everyone and everything.

Margaret Mou, guest writer. 3/6/2011.

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