We’ve heard the importance of maintaining peace, encourage tolerance, and even the importance of doing good deeds in order to have a peaceful, ideal society. While they are not exactly wrong, they are not the only way to achieve the ideal life for everyone. It is necessary to also dig deep and find peace within yourself. And as cliché, as it might sound, we do need God in that matter.
Religion has no definite rules and exact guidebook. It is one of the things that can be interpreted differently, maybe my concept of religion and faith could be different from yours but it doesn’t make us less ‘religious’ in some sort of way. In fact, all these differences are what makes us, you know, us. It’s part of who we are as a whole person in a larger group of people out there.
I was born 22 years ago in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I grew up with much understanding of differences ever since. My father is a Buddhist and also the Head of Buddhist Temple in West Jakarta while my mother is a devoted Catholic. I went to Catholic school ever since I was in kindergarten up until High School, all while I went to the temple near my place every Saturday. At some point, I do have my faith got mixed up especially when I was just a regular 8th grader. One day, my little brother got very sick and I instinctively clasped my hands together and started to pray to Jesus Christ, all while I’ve been praying to Buddha the day before.
But the more I grew up, I began to realize something. It is that whatever your beliefs are, as long as it is not harmful, then it’s okay to hug it tight and share the love and kindness to everyone else around. It then comes an opportunity of a lifetime to experience it even further because, in March 2018, I got an invitation to fly 5.342 km away from home all the way to Australia. It was delightful! Turns out I was chosen as the representative of the Buddhist youth along with 17 other youths from different religious backgrounds in Indonesia, to meet and experience it firsthand how do the Australians live with various backgrounds and cultures and of course, religion. That was the one time I got to be in some serious occasion and got to be called ‘Delegates’ because the event itself was prepared by Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affair and Australia’s Government as their first step to spread out peace both for the Indonesia and Australia.
The meeting doesn’t just end there because one year later, Indonesia and Australia were agreed to have an official interfaith dialogue. Australia is officially the 32nd country to have talked about the interfaith matter with Indonesia. It was another enjoyable moment for me and my friends to witness it firsthand, how more than 5 religious groups came and sit together to share their knowledge. It was a great chance for me personally, to have a deeper lesson straight from the experts.
I talked to Mr. Dya Singh of the Sikh for quite a while and he was truly inspirational.
“I prefer the word ‘acceptance’ rather than ‘tolerance’ because tolerance means ‘okay, you might do something different with me but I will tolerate your action’ while acceptance is a more welcoming words, where you are being accepted as a whole equal being no matter what you are or what you believe.” He said and I totally agree with his remarks.
God is everywhere, even in you, me, and (probably) Koalas and Quokkas. All these years of learning Buddhism and I can confidently say that there are pieces of God within every living being, and by God, I mean all the good and divine values that it holds and I’m sure that all of us also have the power to do positive actions, like God. And some might be asking, “If we are part of God, then why we still should believe in God or even have religion?” even that’s the question I was asking Mr. Singh and here’s his answer:
“Having a religion is like an anchor, it is there whenever you need some kind of other support that you might not have with anyone else. It keeps you on track, it gives you the chance to be the best version of yourself. When people try to seek for God’s actual presence, they won’t find it. Why? Because they seek with their mind and mind has its own limit, whereas God is limitless. The universe is so vast and also limitless, and so is God. People might live well on their own, but when they feel an empty hole somewhere deep down, it is the spiritual needs that they need. And if you do not see God in all, you do not see God at all.”