Almost every country we went people were dead religious.
Hindus, (semi-)Buddhists, (semi-)Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Animists… People care about religion and it often determines their lifes – organizes what they do, what they are allowed to do, what they would never do, what their moralities are, what they wear, how they behave… And sometimes even who they are. Our friend Ulan in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, called his son Islam. Because he believed in it so much and wanted his son – given from Allah – to represent it.
People often asked us what religion we believed in. Mostly we said we were Christians, because everything else would have been impossible to explane with only 15 words of the same language. Philipp, who grew up being catholic, felt very attracted to Buddhism since years. Therefore he was quite happy to wear his Buddhist necklace he got himself in India on the journey. One day in Kashgar, when he passed the most populare mosque in town after the friday’s prayer he got into talking with some guys. Then there came some other guys. They asked him what religion he believed in and wheather he was a Buddhist. He answered (like he always did) with a friendly smile that he was “a little Buddhist”. But they told him with a grim look “it is not polite to wear this (grabbing his necklace) in front of a mosque”. Because discussions about religion are always a very delecate topic he managed to change it and soon went away….
So naturally you have your thoughts about your own religion and wonder about others. You spot and observe the “strange” ways of people practising theirs. And you have your thoughts and feelings.
I moved out of church, having been evangelic before, because what my religion told and symbolized was not what I felt I believed in. I mean, come on… A bleeding, abused guy on a deadly cross who is supposed to symbolize that we should always remind all our sins because he died for them? What a motivating thing to believe in! Especially when you come across comparisons like the rich and colorful Lord Ganesha who removes all of your obstacles!
But what did I believe in? Certainly a lot! Plus I loved many trivial, daily things that result from religion. Like woman wearing skirts. People having collective prayers. Not eating meat. Not harming living creatures. But seeing people living in partially radically restricted ways to follow their believes and obliged duties? It’s easy to understand how it works for the others but at the same time it isn’t understandable at all. Sometimes people suffer a lot although they pray every day and they are the most devotional people. Their lifes often don’t work out the way they wish for although they would have deserved it so badly. But aren’t they still the happier people after all? Are we (western people) maybe so unhappy because be don’t believe in anything anymore? No guardian god, no protective and sacred familylife, no moral doubtlessness, everyone just on his own with his misery, fighting for his way.
I have not found “the one” religion for myself yet. But I have been inspired a lot by many different ones and taken a lot from them home and to my heart. Moralities. Believes. Superstitions. Habits. I try to worship every plant and every insect and every day I go to sleep I pray to Ganesha to remove all the obstacles from my way and a silver Buddha face is glowing wise and guarding over a candle in my room.