If you’ve been following along with this blog, you’ll notice I publish a lot of content about religion, life, and philosophy. In my personal life, I actively study religions and philosophy, with a primary focus on Buddhism, Christianity, and Stoicism.
It comes up in conversations from time-to-time within my friends circle. This led to an interesting question posed by a friend of mine over the weekend:
“Why do you spend so much time studying religions if you don’t even believe the stuff you’re reading about?”
It’s a question that I don’t have one simple answer to – there are several reasons, and to say I don’t believe the stuff I read about isn’t entirely accurate. But after considering the question, I found that I had several different reasons:
- I study Buddhist practices and attend dharma talks because they have a significantly positive impact on my life. I don’t consider myself “a Buddhist” (anyone can practice mindful living no matter what their belief system is), but actively studying and putting its guidance into practice has done wonders for my mental and spiritual health.
- I study Christianity because I have a different perspective on it now. Learning about it from a scholarly perspective helps me to see and understand it without the pressure of having to conform to a religious organization’s interpretations or perceptions. It’s also a healing process for me. While I don’t see myself ever subscribing to this faith again, I can certainly rediscover things I appreciate about it that may help me find common ground with those who do believe in it.
- I study Stoicism because I find it interesting, relatable in many ways, and it reminds me that we aren’t necessarily “more advanced” than our predecessors in terms of critical thinking. One of my favorites books is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and I believe it is a great example of this point.
- I study world religions because I believe they all stem from a common thread. Political motives aside, religion thrives throughout millennia because of an inner yearning for spiritual connection and understanding. None of us know exactly what happens after we die, but I think there are kernels of truth to be found within many religions, and things we can undoubtedly learn from them.
- I study religions and philosophy because they interest me. I’ve always been a curious person, so digging into these areas of study is enjoyable to me. It makes me think, question, and explore.