I was born in a household where spirituality was more important than organized religion. My mother was born catholic, my father Jewish. We were raised with a belief in God, but we did not attend church or synagogue often. We believed the most important thing was to be a good person and do right by others, and this could be done whether one attended a house of worship or not.
When I first read the tenets of Buddhism I instinctively recognized them as something I knew to be true ever since I was a child. This was interesting to me, because even though I believed in God I was told that the Buddhists did not.
Actually, this is not quite accurate. The buddhists believe that if you believe in God then God exists. For you. If you do not, then He (She?) does not. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because this existence is illusion anyway. We create our own reality.
So I choose to believe in God, and God exists for me. I have seen my prayers answered, though not always in the way I wanted them to be. And the God I believe in would want people to follow the buddhist ideal of compassion and love for all living things.
One does not have to believe in God to be a good person. This is a matter of personal responsibility. Do it because it is right, not because ‘God’ says so or will punish you if you do not.
And the buddhists are right about karma. There is such thing as universal law, and one does ‘reap what one sows’. Keep this in mind and you will lead a spiritual life, regardless of what religion you believe in – or even if you believe in none at all.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.