[Analytical Essay] Motivation, Diversity, Simplicity, and Intentions in Religion

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Motivation and Morality.

As we grow older, we gain self-awareness and increased knowledge from our very own life experiences. I became more curious to the complex puzzle of life. Going to Church without reflecting on why I was doing it was like a customary action I had grown up with e.g. like how some people are driven to live but do not ponder on life’s purpose until they are hit with this realization at a later age.

When I had developed the cognitive capability of self-reflection, I realized I was extrinsically motivated to be a good person out of fear that I would suffer in Hell for my sins, not because I intrinsically wanted to. I also was made aware that I had committed to religion blindly without actually knowing the purpose of following it.

Food for thought:

  1. Are we really selflessly being and doing good in our lives if we are motivated by divine reward? e.g. 72 virgins 
  2. Why are there divine rewards and punishments in the first place? Shouldn’t we be a good person not for an ultimate divine reward e.g. Not to end up in Hell?

5

Hell & God.

I was instilled with this fear of death when I learnt the concept of ”Hell and suffering” as a child when I visited Haw Par Villa 10 gates of hell. I felt it was not right for me to use religion as a “motivation” to do good so as to go to heaven and not suffer in hell (divine reward).

I think it’s not fair to “God” in that very similar sense. If I want to be a good person, I would want to do it for the simple reason of being one, not to be driven by religion as a “tool” to for divine gains. If I were to engage with a religion of any sort, I think it’s important for me to have a genuine attitude towards and a personal relationship with “God”. And like any other relationships, if one party has lots of constant doubts or questions, it is not healthy nor easy to maintain the relationship in the long-term.

6 Food for thought:

  1. Why would a loving and forgiving God create Hell to punish the people for their wrongdoings?
  2. wouldn’t people end up doing or following what they are taught by the faith out of  fear of Hell and suffering?
  3. Why would a loving God want to instill fear and control into us when he knows we will be afraid of the concept of death and suffering?

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Back to Basics 

All religion inculcate the same positive value – to be a good person. If we can look pass the complex structure or standards of what we deem to be a “proper religious person” and focus on simplicity of life which is basically to be good and do good, religion can be a very straightforward thing.

It does not matter the frequency of church we go to, how helpful we are at temple, how many times we pray or read the religious book. we can create our very own personal meaning of what we deem in a religion. It can be as simple as e.g. focusing on self-improvement daily or showing more concern to the people around you.

Food for thought:

1. Is the frequency or level of commitment or effort to our religious community activities a high determinant to our relationship with God? Do the time element overrides quality of a personal and private relationship with God?

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Politics and Religion

There are contradictions between religions. E.g. Religion A claims one thing. Religion B claims another thing. Both contradicts each other fully. How do we then know what is true or false? Almost all religions claim to be the authentic or real one, but if we can see past that and choose to embrace all possible aspects and variety of religious beliefs.

We may be taught one thing, but if we open our minds to the outlook of other religious views, we may grow and learn more than we can imagine in terms of perspectives towards life’s purpose and unanswered questions. Divides and intolerance only results in tensions and conflicts.

Harmony can only come with religious tolerance, when we have the awareness to see past our differences and embrace the latter. Wouldn’t the world be a better place? Or maybe I’m too idealistic for the realistic world.

Food for thought:

  1. Should universal religious freedom include – not deeming any religion as the only one-true-authentic-one? Then again, religious teachings makes this a moral dilemma as many are taught to view their own faith as the “real” one.
  2. Even within sub-communities of a same religion, there is a difference in who originated first, the concept, purpose of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory etc. Who,what, or which do we know to follow and believe in then?

666

 Vital Influence.

Religious leaders play an integral part I feel. Whatever they say holds a lot of weight. Even within a religion itself, there may be sub-communities and I’ve heard for myself in person when a not-so-positive message is sent to the followers which causes inaccurate assumptions or stereotypes of the other sub-communities or non-believers

e.g. non-believers are not “saved”. Religious leader have a strong influence over people as they believe and follow what the former preach or share. It’s important to inculcate the right information things as it shapes the attitudes of what believers have towards non-believers or other sub-communities.

Food for thought:

1. When religious leaders send a not-so-positive message of people with of non-believers to their followers, are they aware of the impact and influence of their words to their followers?

2. If a non-believer is not following in God’s footsteps, does he have to be deemed as a person that needs to be “saved” in order to live a life as equally good or satisfying as a person with a faith?

Conclusion to this opinion piece

To check out other posts on Race and Religion, click HERE

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