This I Believe
When I learned about Buddhism for the first time, it was a moment that changed my perception of life. Admittedly, I’m not a Buddhism aficionado; I’m a practicing Catholic. However, a philosophy of Buddhism in my reading of the book “Siddhartha” by Hermon Hess altered my perception of religion entirely. The idea that all religions could somehow lead to the same end was not only new to me but also extremely fulfilling in a way. It allowed for so much freedom. But now a philosophy that I had grown up with for my entire life was being challenged. The new challenge then was to reconcile these ideals that were so meaningful to me. Essentially the question became “how can there be one all-powerful God but also other religions which profess something different but are also correct?” I suppose that this leads nicely into my belief: love is the most important thing. It seems a strange leap to make, but my philosophy is as follows: God is concerned with love, and as long as one loves in his or her best capacity, they are correct: correct here meaning in line with God’s will. I believe that God has a plan for everyone, but that the plan is essentially the same: love one another.
But why then am I Catholic? Why not Buddhist or non-denominational or Baha’i? Obviously a large influence was how I was brought up. Being raised in a combined Catholic and Eastern Orthodox family had a huge impact on my opinion of religion. However, after later questioning, essentially asking, “Amanda, why are you Catholic?” I realized that for me, this is the way that I can love most fully and be most free. It seems like an oxymoron, “a free Catholic;” perception is generally that Catholicism is one of the most restrictive religions on the market. After reading much of C.S. Lewis’ work, however, I’ve realized that by believing in Catholicism, I am afforded the freedom to love as I believe fit, but not just me, everyone.
Certainly I’m not arguing that Catholicism is the religion for everyone, I don’t believe that it is, and that’s where my belief in Catholicism and God’s will of independent love intersect. I believe that it is our purpose to love to the greatest extent and the fullest capacity that we can, through whatever means that is achieved. No matter how one does this, I believe that love is the answer. For me, being Catholic has provided the most direct means of loving fully, but I believe other systems are just as valid. I believe every river leads to the same ocean, and that ocean is love. This I believe.