Most thinking people will admit that they have doubts when it comes to faith. I was born a Hindu and Hinduism’s easy-breezy style of focusing more on rituals and less on dogma is perfect for the mind taught to trust science when it comes to belief.
Over the years I have described myself as an agnostic, an ugly word that conveys more of a sense of wishy-washyness than a genuine interest in exploring the dimensions of spirituality and faith without blind belief. I have a friend who prefers the term “spiritual”, de-linking herself from the smothering hold of religiosity and creating a strong set of moral values of her own.
I suspect many of us who were born Hindus choose to do that. We are not comfortable in believing in a literal “blue” god or a multi-limbed destroyer, but they serve as useful anchors for a belief system that is personal and customized. We don’t have priests telling us how to think and behave and no compulsory practices that reinforce our Hinduism and this gives us the freedom to create our own morality.
But what can we fence-sitters call ourselves? “Atheists” is too harsh and most of us would be uncomfortable categorically denying the existence of a higher power – we have all had moments when we gasp at the sheer wonder of the world; no one can be unmoved by a look a clear night sky, when the glowing stars make us feel at once minute and universal.
Take a look at the following passage and see if a beautiful term pops out at you. It is from an address by President Obama at a Prayer Breakfast this morning at the White House.
We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Torah commands, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” In Islam, there is a hadith that reads “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.
Yes, I am a humanist. Anybody who believes in the Golden Rule must be.