This morning I got a note from a former friend in China. She had converted to Buddhism and was happy with it. Good for her. Something I have noticed about her is that she talks the talk of some buddhists but does not live it. Such as the KINDNESS aspect. She is all about the rituals the chanting and life of it – which does not seem to include empathy, compassion, caring, love etc. It is all about HER. I realized her core person is selfish and cold no matter what religion she may join.
Thinking, I remembered a coworker who is a born again christian. I have realized he is a NICE guy but not very caring. The REAL EMOTIONAL well being and lives of others are beyond him BUT HE IS VERY RELIGIOUS! Someone at work may need some help but he has to be ASKED to help them. He does not seem to care about people. He uses his religion as a tool of arrogance, I believe. He was probably that way all his life. Like the Chinese woman and her buddhism. It does not change the essential aspects of who a person is inside.
I thought of my girl friend, a Chinese living in a European country now. She seemed cold when I met her. I thought it would just be a friendship. She is an atheist (like me). Some atheists are warm and other cold. It strips us of our pretensions, I believe. We have no deities to hide behind. As I got to know the woman that became my girl friend, I realized she was a very WARM CARING person that would do anything for her friends and I. It is who she IS. Her parents are cold stern people – from what I have learned – but HER ESSENCE is KINDNESS.
When someone tells me they identify as part of some religion or non religion, what I look for is who they truly ARE, beyond the label. Joining anything does not matter. It only changes the rhetoric. Who we ARE and GROW TO BE matters. Life can change us to be more cold or warm. More loving or cold, hateful or warm. What matters is who and what a person are and become in LIFE.
Not the labels.