All through history, religion “always was and always will be.” What draws people of every race to believe in a higher power/Creator? Whether worshiping the sun or idols of mythology, mankind has always been drawn to worshiping something or someone. A God to offer hope and ask for answers. A lot of them were known or slightly known to me, while others I did not know about were simply fascinating. Learning the history and customs of religions I hardly knew existed, was the most pleasurable part of this class.
As I began these discourses, I found that the majority of the world’s religions have pretty much the same clear message: “As you give so shall you receive.” For years, I maintained such a hardened outlook on some of the religions of the world. I came to the realization that it was merely personal bias and contempt before investigation. After hitting bottom from addiction, I looked towards a new faith, and have been developing a new philosophy in life, and this course has afforded me another tool for growth.
I also had a misconception about one religion that I thought I knew about, Hinduism. I have a good friend who is Hindu. I now think I have a much better understanding on the concept of reincarnation than I did before I took this course. I always thought that all Hindus and Buddhists were looking to attain a deeper and deeper level of spiritual awareness during each lifetime until they achieved oneness with God. Now I know that early Hindus and some modern followers are more interested in discontinuing the cycle of reincarnation so they can finally be at peace. It is not much of a difference; it can even seem just semantics, but it helped me understand why I did not seem to always understand where my friend’s beliefs and opinions were forged from.
I appreciated the lesson on Suffering and Death. The burning questions of “Why do bad things happen? What can I do to mitigate circumstances so that I do not suffer? What happens after death?” These are questions that we are faced with in our Chaplaincy, personal life, and sometimes in just friendly debate. I have gained more certainty in myself with learning how other cultures/religions deal with these questions, enabling me to not only state my opinion, but to also back it up with facts.
One part of this course which I very much liked was attending different Churches and temples and interviewing people about the core of their belief systems. When we get past the variations of language and culture, we can see that the true core of each faith (which is so often forgotten by traditional religions)is love of God and expressing that love by being kind and loving with our fellow man. I would say that the best part of my experiences was finding the YouTube videos of an old friend of mine who I had not thought about in years. I gained insights that will assist me with dealing with individuals of different backgrounds. It would be outstanding if this Comparative Religion course was taught in high school! I believe that we all have a belief in something and how we worship is as individualized as we make it. Divine Spirit exists for all of us, our respect and praise is the same. It is just our methods that differ.
I really do not see any parts of this Universal Life Church class that I failed to like. I think I’ve discovered a new passion! There were a lot of uncommon words that were grouped together throughout these lessons, and it made it difficult to get a handle on what the lesson was. It was frustrating at first, but it made me re-read quite a few sections and slowed me down, which enhanced my understanding. This class has been a perfect beginning point for me, and has given me the basic ideas on which to study different religions.