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Freedom of Religion - Don't try to convince others of your Belief - 30 Sep 11

30 Sep 2011  Vrindavan, India

Category: Religion

Swami Balendu

In the last days I have been writing about missionaries whose main aim is to convert people of another belief to theirs. I also mentioned that this does not make sense in my eyes. I could never try to make others belief in my way, no matter which way that may be. Let me explain this a little bit further.

Different religions are in my opinion made by different thoughts. The people who wrote the scriptures and those who started a religion had a certain opinion and a certain aim. The rules that they set for believers of their religion are based on that aim. And of course they are based in their culture and society, too. In a country like India, people may easily believe in things that people in other countries don’t believe in, simply because of their cultural background! This is why I see it as very difficult to try and convince someone of another culture of your belief. And again there is the question: why would you even try?

There can be different views upon religion in one area, too. You can have a fully different opinion than your neighbor. You can even have a fully different opinion than other members of your family. Why would you try to change the other one? I am sitting on this side of the table and have one opinion. You are sitting on the other side of the table and have another opinion. Why would I get angry about this? Why would I have a problem with you sitting next to me just because you have another opinion?

Maybe my words and what I write in my diary ends up in a scripture some day because someone decides to put it there and make a religion out of it. I am of the opinion that nobody should take what I say word by word and as a law. I just express my own opinion. If you have another one, it is fine for me! I will always honestly tell what I believe and I will not change that statement according to whom I am talking to. I will be me and I can tell you what I believe. I don’t expect you to change or think like me! I know that my parents have a different opinion on religion in many ways but I don’t expect them to change and think like me! Be tolerant and let others believe what they wish to believe in.

I fully believe that if you see a friend being pulled into a sect or a group that has bad practices, you should tell him what you think about it. It is your love that will try to make him understand that what he wants to believe in could be bad for him. But in the end it will be his own decision and you have to let him believe what he wants to believe.

Religion is imagination, it is interpretation and it is also old ideas of people who lived a long time ago. Some of these ideas are valid today, too, while others seem fully ridiculous. The problems start when someone thinks of his way as the only right one. Then he tries to convince others of the same way. All religions and all sects actually claim that and I believe that this is why people start turning away from religions. They feel that they don’t have the freedom to feel and decide for themselves what is right or wrong. They are told which way to go but they want freedom! Religions want to control and religions want to convert. Let people believe what they wish to believe. I would always choose freedom and love.

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Tags:: Religion, Personal statement, Change, Tolerance

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Posted By Swami Balendu

Swami Balendu

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Comments

Perhaps the best way to convince people of a belief or a way of life is not to use words but to show them with actions. People her your words but they see what you do more than your words. Sometimes it's more than talking the talk, more than often it's about walking the walk.

Reply By Tricia on September 03, 2012 02:45


One of my favorite quotes about how to behave in the world is, "Live and let live." In other words, live your life to the best of your ability, according to your beliefs, values, pleasures, and desires. But allow that same freedom to live for all others, regardless of how different it may be from your lifestyle. It is true that if you love someone very much, but disagree with their life choices, it is hard to let them live that way. But ultimately, all you can do is tell them how you feel and treat them with unconditional love. Even if they make mistakes and change their ways 100 times, you will always be there to forgive and accept them, but never trying to change them. They will love you for it! In my life, I have grown up around many different religions. My father was raised Catholic and my mother was raised Lutheran. As they grew up, they disliked the way their religions confined them to certain rules and rituals that they didn't really believe in. When they met each other, they came together in the name of love, abandoning the religions that they were brought up in. When I was born, we lived in Utah in the U.S. That state is known for its affiliation with the Mormon religion. In fact, we were one of very few non-Mormon families in the whole town where we lived. We experienced discrimination in many ways, simply because we didn't affiliate with their religion. We were not bad people; we didn't harm anyone or even belittle their religion or beliefs. But we were different. We decided to join the Unitarian church, which is known for its tolerance and acceptance of other belief systems, just in order to say that we went to church and "fit in" with the Mormons! Though we were outcasts in our society and didn't believe in their religion, I always had respect for my Mormon friends and neighbors-- they were very kind, moral, and hard working people. As I have learned, the religion you belong to does not determine your quality as a person. Whether Catholic, Lutheran, Mormon, Unitarian, or Hindu for that matter, there is an inner spiritual nature that connects us all. I think every religion can agree that love, peace, and respect are values which we should live by. And the differences between religions are just the stories we tell about the way things came to be on this planet...but they generally don't deny the basic truths that all people adhere to. In conclusion, if we live our lives and let other people live theirs, I think we will find that we have more in common with them than expected!

Reply By Emily on October 03, 2011 05:52


It doesn't matter if we pray to Jesus, Krishna or Allah, in the end it is all one. This is the truth and if we all could see that there would be no war for religion in this world. Many lives could have been saved.

Reply By Ina on October 01, 2011 12:03


Tolerance is the key to this problem. You don't need to tolerate it if someone tries to convince you of his belief though. I fully agree with you. If the other person has a different opinion, let him or her have a different opinion, no problem. But it is difficult with fanatics to make them understand this!

Reply By Monica on October 01, 2011 12:02


I love your opinion, even if it is sometimes different from mine! Freedom of opinion is one of the basic rights that we must live and let others live in the same way! Let everybody be how he or she is! Much love from across the ocean

Reply By Olga on October 01, 2011 04:12


Reply To your Comment

Dear Olga, Thank you for your words. Yes, we don't need to be of the same opinion to send each other love in friendship!

By Swami Balendu on October 01, 2011

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