Do you have a religion? If not, it’s easy for now! But if you do, let me ask you a few questions…
What is your religion?
If you are a Muslim, how many Muslims do you know, if you are a Christian, how many Christians, if you are a non-believer, how many non-believers do you know?
Do you know how many people in the world, with the same name, believe in the religion you believe in? Billions, millions, hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands?
And think about your co-religionists; how many of them are exactly the same as you?
Your parents, your spouses, your friends, your siblings, your friends; with whom do your beliefs overlap one hundred percent?
No? Normal; if you already believed the same, would there be any point in being “another person”?
And how devoted are you to your religion?
For example, can you live your whole life like the people you see at the highest level of your religion, like the prophets?
And are there any such people among your acquaintances?
It is normal; so why can’t you be “complete” as your religion demands?
Why can’t you do and live fully all the things you “believe to be right”?
Is it too complicated?
Are there things in your faith that will never fit into your life?
Well, the religion you believe in has good advice, right? Don’t do evil, don’t kill, don’t be unfair, be just…?
Can you keep up with them?
“As best you can”, is that it?
But you can’t follow them all, because you are human, aren’t you?
But do you get offended by those who cannot obey what you can obey, to those who do not believe what you believe by the same name? Do you see them as incomplete, heedless, thoughtless?
I think it would be absurd to say no, because if you didn’t think so, why would you believe in such things?
If yes, then tell me: How would you feel if those who follow the parts that you cannot follow thought the same things about you, said these things to you, accused you of heedlessness, misguidance, ignorance?
Well, don’t be angry, I don’t mean to make you angry…
How did you come to believe in this religion?
Do you belong to a different religion than your parents?
Is your religion the same as theirs? So you were born into it, huh?
But you’re sure that this is the “right way”, I guess?
So how and why are you so lucky?
Have you thought about how you are different from “religious” people like you who were born into other “religions” and have continued to believe in them and practice them as much as they can throughout their lives?
You think you can get the “eternal reward” with the beliefs you inherited, am I wrong?
And why is your Creator, in whom you believe, doing you such a “favor”?
Why not others, but you personally and those like you?
Aren’t you mistaken?
Does practicing religion like supporting a football team lead us to heaven?
Anyway, I think we are at a sensitive point again, shall we change the subject a little bit?
Do you really know what your religion commands you?
Actually, fundamentally, essentially, you know what your faith tells you?
How much have you thought about it so far?
I am sure you think more than others; are you sure?
Otherwise, why else would you be deprived of so many of life’s blessings, why would you act so contrary to your instincts and impulses?
Do you agree one hundred percent with everyone who believes in the same religion as you on the basics of your religion?
Are there no differences of opinion between you?
If there is, is that not a problem if you are of the same religion?
I mean the foundations of religious belief; can they be different within the same religion?
Sounds like a possibility, don’t you think?
Look, some people behead people because it is the basis of religion; some people try to do good to all humanity, even to all life, because it is the basis of the same religion. Someone else secretly despises everyone except those who belong to his religion; someone else belongs to the same religion as you, but doesn’t care about anything; he is only after his own paradise…
Which one is your religious brother? Which one is the same and just like you?
And when someone says something against your “religion”, do you jump up? Do you take it personally, as if it was said only to you?
Do you feel the need to say “this is not the real religion!” when someone criticizes practices of your religion that you consider “extreme”?
Does your religion prevent you from seeing other people’s suffering, does it prevent you from sharing it?
You are very different from some of your co-religionists, aren’t you? So why do you reflexively act as if there is no difference?
Let me ask you one more thing:
You must think your religion is a good choice. Would you recommend it to other people?
Your faith is not exclusive to your race, to your relatives, to the people living around you; it is a universal message, isn’t it?
So what is this message saying?
For example, why should people living on the other side of the world choose your religion?
How does your faith offer them a “better world”?
For example, does believing in that religion make you a better, better, happier person than them?
What does your faith offer or suggest to a prosperous and healthy Dane, to an African whose entire village is starving, to a wealthy American merchant, to a Mexican drug dealer, to a Buddhist peasant meditating in the mountains of Tibet, to an old nun serving as a missionary in the Third World, to a Russian teenager passing out in the front row of a rock concert, to an Asian landlord with dozens of wives, to a Dutch researcher conducting cutting-edge scientific research in a laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment, to a homosexual youth who has been pushed out of society and marginalized, to an indigenous man hunting seals in the Arctic Circle, and even to millions of different people around the world?
Why should these people put their own lives aside and choose your faith?
What does the message you believe in promise them?
More importantly, how does that message make you a better person?
Is it really doing it?
How will other people benefit from this exclusive faith? Will they repeat a few words, learn a few rituals and go on with their lives? Or will they have to live just like you?
Well, they tried, but they didn’t like it, what happens? Will they be “killed” on the way out? Will they be able to leave that religion as easily as they entered it? Will they want to leave?
Okay, I don’t want to overwhelm you! Are you allowed a few last questions?
So, let’s put religion aside for a moment and touch on a few things about you, shall we?
Tell me, without you, would anything important be missing from this world?
Would the world continue in the same way if you didn’t exist, if no one remembered you, or if you were never born?
Have you thought about the difference between your presence and your absence?
So, in short, why do you exist, how much time have you spent thinking about it so far?
Are you here by cosmic accident, or were you created for a special purpose?
If you have a religious belief, then it’s no accident that you’re here, is it?
Are you the most honorable of creatures? Is this what you are experiencing, the greatest “honor”?
And do you hope, when you’ve lived long enough, to do something worthy of that honor?
To give real meaning to your existence?
If your existence is not accidental, then why?
Why do you exist?
To react the first thing that comes to your mind, to believe the first thing you see from your family, to repeat what those around you do?
And I wonder, O my soul, will you live long enough to answer these questions properly?