Religion can be relevant only if …

  1. it teaches and makes us value and respect all human beings regardless of race, creed and class
  2. it teaches us not to ridicule the beliefs and practices of others but instead to learn why others believe, practice and conduct their religious life the way they do so as to understand others better and extend effective help to others in a way that will be more readily acceptable to them
  3. it teaches us the wisdom to deal with life on this earth and to live moderately and considerately and not let the materialistic philosophy and pursuits destroy oneself as well as one’s family, colleagues and neighbours
  4. it teaches wrong from right and right from wrong and provides us with the strength, courage and will to favour right but reject wrong
  5. it inspires and emboldens us to vehemently reject injustice and to courageously insist that justice be done no matter what consequences we ourselves may have to face
  6. it provides us freedom to explore, to learn, to ponder and to make decisions for each of our own self and extend the freedom for others to make decisions for themselves
  7. it prepares us to face suffering be it economic reversal, medical illness or death as well as to wisely manage economic prosperity, good health and long life as the case may be
  8. it frees us from slavery to wrongful customs, burdens and entrapments of every kind so that we can hold true to what is just, righteous and good for oneself and others
  9. it saves me from my self importance and enables me to regard others better than myself:

Philippians 2. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (The Holy Bible)

In conclusion, speaking from the standpoint of my own religious community, if only I and others who claim we follow CHRIST will truly and faithfully study, understand and practice our Faith and be more like CHRIST, we would have more substantially contributed towards making this country and this world a better, fairer and considerate place. True religious practice is not to blame and fault others but our own selves. If my religious faith is not relevant to today’s world and the next generation, it is me who is at fault and I need not look further than myself to take the blame. It isn’t science or materialism which renders my religious faith irrelevant; it is my failure to fully comprehend the essence of my faith and the lack of real practice of it which puts people off it. When I read the Holy Bible, my attitude must be to let the Holy Bible speak to me and to judge and change me rather than my propensity in rushing to apply it to others.

Religion that is relevant is truth, values and principles that have been internalised in those who profess faith and belief so that the genuine and authentic outward expression of it will attract rather than put people off.

(Sharing at the Inter-Religious Forum commemorating the seventh anniversary of the passing of the Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda at Buddhist Maha Vihara, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Friday 23.08.2013)

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