There are two topics I have consistently tried to avoid discussing in this column since I started writing for the Inquirer in 1987. They are politics and religion. The reason is that there could never be any complete agreement about them. Once started, there is no end to the discussion or arguments by all concerned parties.
The other reason is that I never had any intention of changing people’s religious or political beliefs. In fact, I have great respect for them, no matter how incompatible or opposite they are to my own beliefs. Most wars throughout the history of mankind were caused by differences in either religious or political beliefs.
However, I would like to make an exception against discussing religion in the case of the following letter I received from a 24-year-old reader, Melissa Mallorca (not her real name), because it contains a misconception or misunderstanding of my own religious belief, which needs to be corrected.
Here is Mallorca’s letter, followed by my observations and comments.
“Why has your existence been kept from me for years?
“I’m a Born-Again Christian, my faith has never withered (maybe you mean “wavered?”) through the years.
“At the same time, since I was 16 (I’m now 24), I have been trying to study NLP (you mean Neuro-linguistic Programming?) through books and this TV series, ‘The Mentalist.’ I never knew somebody like you existed here in the Philippines.”
In a box
I really have no problem with people having different religious beliefs from mine, because I have absolutely no desire, nor intention, of converting them to what I believe in. I have very great tolerance for beliefs that may be inconsistent with my own.
Religion puts people’s minds in a box. Converting from one religion to another is like jumping from one box to another. Your mind is still in a box!
As for the years of not knowing that a person like me exists in the Philippines, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s only now you are ready to listen to other viewpoints. I have been writing for various newspapers and magazines since the mid-’70s. I even anchored a radio program over DZMM for 21 years, and DWIZ for one year.
“Everything that contradicts my faith, all thoughts and information, I immediately dismiss. However, my inner self tells me that there is something more about one’s self that may still be discovered. A certain purpose is calling me, and it is vague to me up to now.”
I used to think the same way you do. I was born and grew up in the Catholic faith, and I believed what was preached by priests, that “outside the Catholic religion there is no salvation.” I’m glad they no longer preach such a thing. Nobody will believe it, anyway.
Your inner self (which I prefer to call the “higher self”) is correct. There’s more to discover beyond the teachings of organized religion and even conventional science. Don’t limit yourself to what one single religion teaches. You will go through a period of confusion all right, but if you persist in widening your intellectual horizon, you will soon discover the “unity in diversity” and you will no longer be confused.
You would have found your own synthesis of things beyond religion and beyond science. You are still very young at 24, but I believe you are an old soul—otherwise you would not be asking these deep questions.
“For a person like you who does not believe in religious beliefs and whatever is in the Bible, or heaven, hell, God’s rewards and punishments, do you still keep a religion?”
Allow me to correct you here. It is not true that I do not have religious beliefs; I do, in fact, I believe in all religions. They all contain some grain of truth. What I do not believe in is in the teachings of a single religion.
You see, when I asked myself, “What is God’s religion?” I could not name a single religion that I could identify Him with. I realized that God has no religion. He is not Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish or whatever. We cannot limit God to one single religion. Neither can I.
I remember what the great British playwright, George Bernard Shaw, said. He pointed out, “What one believes may be gauged not from his creed (or religion) but from the assumptions under which he daily acts.” How true!
I think any bible of whatever religion contains some important truths. And the Christian Bible particularly has been proven by scholars to contain historical facts. Many of the events written there actually took place. So, how can I not believe in it? But what I believe in is not really important, because I don’t impose it on others anyway. And I don’t expect everybody to believe as I do. Each person must follow his or her own truth, not the truth of others.
“I don’t know if I’d ever get a reply from you, sir. But I have been trying to learn about the inner mind and I never thought I’d get a lead from just reading the daily news.”
Well, you just received a reply. I wish to thank you for reading this column. If you are really interested in knowing more about the powers of our inner mind, get in touch with me (8107245), for information about my seminars on inner mind development, ESP or psychic powers, and also the many books I have written on psychic and spiritual phenomena.