Different Religions

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Disclaimer: This post is written in my knowledge, my thoughts and my experience, and if religion is something you feel very strongly about, I suggest you skip this post, though this is not a rant about religion.

It’s no secret that dearest Loius and me are born and raised with different religions (He is a Roman Catholic, I am a Buddhist/Taoist mix- the typical Malaysian Chinese religion I’d say), though many would think otherwise for some reason :P For those who do know, it’s always the inevitable questions:

“How do you/you guys handle it?”

“Are you going to convert?/Will you convert?”

“What will your/his parents say?”

And so on and so forth.

Having been with dearest for about 2 years now, we’ve seemed to handle it pretty well, at least in my opinion. I attend mass with him in church whenever I can, and he accompanies me (And Mum) to temples whenever we do go. We remind each other of our obligations and encourage each other to fulfil them- for example I always remind dearest to go to church, to always remember and give praise to God and Jesus and to fulfil any other religious obligations he might have, such as reminding him of important religious days, e.g. Lent and Easter.

I’ve attended Sunday school when I was in kindergarten, went to a convent (S.M. St. Anne) when I was 13 to 15 years old and read the Bible, so I can say I do have some knowledge about dearest’s religion, though I am loyal to my own.

In regards to his religion I try to teach and guide him to the best that I can and understand, while he also guides and corrects me should I be wrong/misunderstand/do not understand something, and vice versa when it comes to my religion- I explain to him the history, the significance and so on. In other words, we are very tolerant with each other’s religion, and try our best to learn as much as we can about them.

My parents, especially Mum, has always taught me that there is only one God in the whole entire world- it’s just that His teachings are spread through different people/prophets, e.g. Buddha and Jesus, through different methods and come in multiple forms and deities (As in the case of Taoism), but in the end there is only one, and that we should always respect and try to know and understand other religions because although they may seem differ in their teachings and methods and the like, the end goal is ultimately the same- to live a good life.

My parents definitely do not mind dearest being from a different religion, and also allow him to attend church (And also encourage it), but I do think they draw the line at me converting, as liberal as they are.

It’s not a problem to dearest and me, because, well, we don’t exactly plan to have children. And even if we do, we both have agreed and plan to allow the children to choose whichever religion they eventually want when they are capable of doing so, while being exposed to both sides of our religions (The good and the bad) with explanations of what’s going on, the significance of whatever rituals both religions might have and the like. Just as long as they don’t become extremists :P

That all being said, dearest and me do not “leave everything to God“. I personally feel and think that it’s a bad habit, a very bad way of thinking. We may pray, ask for guidance and blessings and all, and seek comfort during desperate times, but in the end it’s up to us to work for it and to change ourselves- we don’t believe that God will magically drop food on your table or give you straight As or rain money down for you or make you, or even others change overnight. God may have plans for you and set a path for you, but it is ultimately up to you yourself to discover, with your own mental and physical strength, your own capabilities and the faculties bestowed onto you, what your true destiny is, because everything does happen for a reason. By “leaving everything to God“, I feel that you are surrendering and not trying your best to discover what He ultimately has in store for you, yes?

Prayers, piety and/or devotion alone won’t 100% help you. You have to help yourself.

I am very glad though, that despite our different religions, dearest and me have nothing but the utmost respect and tolerance for the difference :) I can say that we have never argued about religion- we may argue about everything else, but we’ve never disagreed on religion.

And here’s a little secret, while we’re on the topic of religions- my Mum is a medium, though she has only acquired it recently, for the Thousand-Armed Bodhisattva Kuan Yin. A medium, in Taoism, has their body “taken over” by a deity for usually for the purpose of helping others, and this phenomenon is prevalent mainly amongst the Southeast Asian Chinese, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. Mum acquired this naturally- which means she has been “chosen”, compared to some mediums who actually learn the skill. One does not simply become a medium, even if one does want to.

Even so, she has respect for other religions- there have been Christians and Muslims who have consulted her and seek her help (On their own accord), and she does not push Taoist amulets on them as some mediums may do (Speaking from experience). In fact, she asks them to use their own religious paraphernalia- holy water and the rosary for Christians, for example, and does not ask them to go to temples or pray to anything else apart from who they themselves believe in. She deals mainly with illnesses/health (Healing) and businesses/career thus far, though once in a while she has been asked about ancestors and relationships, and even when she tells people about whatever they want to know and helps/tries to help them, she would also beseech them to make their own effort and not just rely on divine intervention/help.

Sadly, some people cannot accept such a phenomenon, thinking that it’s abnormal (And if I may say, some think that this crazy), but dearest knows of this and is supportive of it, even if he has never seen/experienced seeing it in his entire life before until recently, and I am thankful to him for it :) It was hard for me to accept it at first too, honestly, as although my Mum and I grew up around this culture, it’s pretty surreal. But then again it’s hard to be sceptical too. The younger generation tend to shun this and disparage it as superstition and “old-fashioned”, but I personally see really nothing wrong with it, especially if it can really help you, yes? Plus, such things, as I’ve said, happen for a reason.

I’ve been digressing.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, dearest is tolerant, supportive and understanding of my religion, and I am of his too. I’m glad we can talk about our religion freely and not impose it on each other, and discuss with an open-mind. I think that it’s important in the beginning of the relationship to lay this down- your religious views and expectations, if you have one and believe in it, so that no or very minimal religion-based clashes occur, as we have did, and it seemed to work :3

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