People sometimes ask me, "Are you religious"? I find it an interesting question.
My answer is always "Yes". But the question “which religion do you follow?” is harder to answer.
I believe that the all religions are expressions of the same idea -- a need for individual principles to live by. Of course, the society where we live also gives us certain principles, too -- but these are mostly enforced to benefit the group. Society's constraints don't give much individual guidance about how to behave except on a very basic level. Religion does -- very personalized, individual guidance.
In other words, religion is your approach to the Big Puzzle of Life -- what should I do with myself? How should I live my life?
So where do we get to that guidance? Some people would say Christ is the answer. Others say Islam. Atheists might say that a rational system of morals and ethics is enough. Some have a point-by-point rationale for what they believe. Others simply have faith.
My own religion is not formal but rather a combination of many religious ideas with the added concept of meditation or prayer. As I was raised in a Christian society but without belonging to a specific Church, I picked up certain elements by osmosis. But over the years I have also discovered and adopted Native American, Buddhist, and Hindu beliefs into my system. At the end of the day, I feel more comfortable "averaging" over human religions -- looking for a common denominator -- than I do accepting any single religion to the exclusion of all others.
You might say, "but how can you believe all those things at once?"
My answer is that I respect the fundamental purpose of ALL bona fide religions which is to help people. Each religion is a different expression of that fundamental purpose. As Gandhi (a Hindu) said, “I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew,” I think reaffirming the notion that all religions bring value to their practionners, and that no one religion should be thought of as superior to another.
Much religious thought I don’t believe is meant to be taken literally. Yes, certain people did exist as historical figures and things have been written and said about them that could – in theory anyway – be debated as to whether they are true occurrences or allegory. But again – what is the purpose? I believe a religious story is supposed to transcend the moment when it was written. The goal is to guide and inform us in our life – here, today, 1000’s of years later – not to get us to imitate some local custom of long ago. We could debate forever about whose God is called by the correct name or which day of the week should be the Sabbath or how long our beards should be. But to do so completely misses the point about religion in my view.
So to conclude, Religion is about us. We have to be happy with our own religion -- nobody else. Religion should guide, support, and help in our time of need.
If it does that, then no matter whether you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, or whatever, you've got the right one.