An interesting situation arose back when I was studying for my undergrad; I feel like I remember it as clear as yesterday. It was my second year of uni, so 2008, and it was winter-to-spring time as we had wrapped up the Inter-University Dance competition and my body was down to size zero, so of course, as one does, I would sit by the cafe and eat cheesecake basically every day (so much for all those workouts, I was back to size 4 within the next 2 weeks, thus, The Betrayal of the Cheesecake). I remember, I was just finishing up my latte and class was over, and as I busied myself with the local newspaper, a girl walked up to me. She asked, “Have you met my friend? Would you like to meet my friend?”
Judging from her earnest expression, I understood that she might be a preacher, come to tell me about Jesus. I was hesitant, not because I’m not of the Christian faith or have any adverse feelings, but because these conversations generally get awkward when the person proceeds to inform me that I’m going to hell for not believing what they do. Politely I told her, ‘sorry, but I’m not of this faith and I might not be the person to have this conversation with.’ Intrigued nonetheless, she and her friend sat down and asked if they could have a discussion. I looked around and knowing that I didn’t have any classes for the rest of the day, and an interesting discussion at bay, how could I refuse?
She proceeded to tell me how she converted from Hinduism to Christianity, because she felt like she didn’t have any religious or spiritual connection outside of major festivals to her faith. How when she meet her friend (whom I assume got her interested) introduced her to the Church and now she has found a friend in Jesus. I told her thats all cool and all, but my interest was quipped when she mentioned that she had converted.
When someone converts to another faith, its very interesting, because what drove them to leave behind the faith that their parents nurtured them in, to another. I understand it when someone must do it to marry someone, or when wants to raise their children in one faith rather than multi, or when one had a moment in their life that drove them to whatever faith they choose. Her reason of connection made me uneasy and felt that it wasn’t a good enough of a reason. Connection to faith can be made in a number of ways, and when you are raised in one, that connection must have been very weak for you to break it.
I proceed to ask her: ‘I understand that during religious festivities, the feeling of connectedness comes very easy. Between the hymns, the prayer and the rituals that follow, the atmosphere is quite set. Did you ever research your faith?’ She giggled and said ‘no, who does that.’ As if googling something or looking for a book on the basics was a ridiculous idea. I was amused and asked, ‘well, I’m sure you did some research when you meet your new friend, so why didn’t you when had a 3000 year old faith that you were born into. Between your mother, the priest and all the books and literature, you couldn’t find something that answered your question of where do I find my friend?’ She was of course at a loss of words. We proceeded to discuss the lengths of literature in the Hindu religion that points to where you may find your friend, from Krishna, the most relatable God in his many avatars and stories, to
Shiva, who quite simply stated ‘I am within you and you within I‘. I don’t know how much connectedness you could get than that. It makes me wonder how someone so young can come to such a conclusion about where their spirituality lies.
Spirituality and religion are a personal experience. A unique experience that grows as one does with the trials of life. However, when one contemplates leaving it, I wonder, have they given it their best shot? Have they talked to their priest about the life Jesus lead and what reasons motivated him before leaving him behind? Have they read the stories of Krishna to understand how he resides in your heart and from there the universe flows? Have they bothered to read the philosophy behind the Adi Granth and how simple the language is to understand? Have they truly understood the depth of meditation that Buddha enshrined?
I am by no means a religious expert, just a curious person who does a simple google search when I have a question.