It’s a bit fascinating when one stops to consider just how universally hailed and praised ancient religious texts are by their respective believers – how, through those works and teachings direct from divinity, simply reading and knowing their messages somehow instills such fervent and absolute belief in the Creator responsible for providing them. It is these very texts that are the most important factor in bringing or converting so many folks to following that belief system.
What’s more, however, comes with the nearly incomprehensible amounts of dedication and effort poured into understanding them by so many different folks across the blowing sands of time immemorial… something true even -especially!- right in the here and now.
People genuinely do spend their lives studying words and lessons in such sacred texts. All the more, the number of individuals that dedicate their entire lives into better interpreting those passages, and then teaching or sharing -reflecting and ruminating upon- that knowledge to others, in order that their flock might glimmer meaning and understanding, through assorted religious services.
Each week vast numbers across the globe spend countless hours reading and rereading, while also attending group events to reflect on the words and ideas found inside (such so-called Bible Studies, or what all have you) with other folks of similar mindsets. Then, at least once a week, nearly every religious belief system will present services that, while also including “entertainment” with song or serving as socializing events, have at their absolute heart a focus on a particular teaching, parable or passage (out of thousands and thousands).
And yet… why is that? Why do we do so? How exactly is it that they play such an integral role in leading someone to devote themselves wholly to whatever that belief system is?
Do those sacred and holiest of texts only support preexisting thoughts on account of that individual; aligning perfectly with everything they already thought or believed of life?
Or is it instead more a case of their presenting such an overwhelmingly compelling and incontrovertible case for the higher power at hand as to leave no room whatsoever, not even for the slightest of doubts… and so ultimately making for an open and shut case, as it were?
It is, in reality, neither of those – at least not so much as being the result of very real, all too ever present rewards which come from following such instructions and teachings to the letter.
The reason for any of this is rather deceptively simple; being something most folks in possession of such faith would readily provide as an answer to that big ‘ol “why?” hereabouts. No less, it is also what leads so many to devote themselves to sharing that faith of theirs with others around them – hoping to bring that person down a similar path, in order to offer them with the very same sorts of “rewards” which they already enjoy in their own lives.
Even so, it seems decidedly important to point out that reasoning plain and clear, in order to gain a deeper understanding as to just what’s at play & behind this all. Now then, there’d also be many that cite concerns on the “next life” or the fates of our immortal souls as the most critical factor in grasping such insight for themselves. This is indeed important, to be sure, but it also seems to me that it can’t properly explain the phenomenon behind this in full.
Moreover, gaining an expansive mastery of understanding whatever lessons from God…? It really doesn’t lead one to a “higher position” come the traditional understanding of the afterlife – or, at the very least, not presenting to someone a “better seat at the (heavenly) table” upon their mortal death as compared to someone else who, while a believer as well, did not themselves become quite so deeply familiar with or steeped in that particular religious text of theirs.
At least in Christianity, the understanding is that the acceptance of and faith in Jesus offers one all the necessary redemption and salvation as proves necessary to enter into heaven… even in spite of whatever sins they might’ve perpetrated during the course of their life. This makes gleaning that wisdom as much as proves conceivable something of an unnecessary endeavor if their sole concern there happens to be the ultimate outcome of their own personal afterlife.
Simply put, being either a “bigger” or “better” believer in some way or another…? It’s just not needed in such a way, nor does it present anyone with any advantages or superiority over a fellow believer who, it could easily be said, is not exactly themselves on equal ground when it comes to their “mastery” of those divine lessons from God. In the eyes of our Creator, all men and women are inherently equal – no particular soul ever attains more of God’s favor by doing this or that differently, just so long as they lead a good, positive and moral life while also harboring faith in divinity.
Let’s say, for example, a person memorizing and knowing firsthand every single last word, teaching and idea from any one belief system never presents someone with any actual bonuses nor rewards -never earning still more of God’s favor- during the eternity we’ve been told will come to us after our mortal demise. His desire there appears clear that, when it comes to the matter of our assorted fates beyond this here mortal realm, possessing simple belief and living with an absolute repudiation of sinfulness, evil and wickedness are what matters.
This should all start to seem rather obvious when we examine the actual contents of those sacred works. They deal, not so much on preparing for or improving our station in such an afterlife, but largely only dealing with our lives right *here* in this mortal realm.
Ultimately, the most common thread tugged on when explaining the intrinsic value of gaining real faith and belief to those who might not presently possess it at the moment…? It’ll most often center around how vastly improved one’s life becomes upon accepting whatever particular belief system is at hand – and subsequently learning+following that religion’s assorted teachings.
This “improvement”…? It’s not even so much because someone feels any cumbersome burden as having been lifted from off of their backs, someone already knowing full well and good that they each have an eternity of blissful utopia awaiting them (a reunion with all of their dearly loved ones and finding themselves existing alongside of divinity, for starters) but because of just how dramatically it improves their lives on Earth right there and then… almost immediately!
What’s instead responsible for this comes down to how following those divine teachings work to provide us with all the tools necessary to lead truly exceptional and joyous lives *while* we’re yet on this Earth. It’s both why believers feel their faith is such a treasured prize, as well as why they so often desire to share it with anyone… and everyone!
So the greatest real world priceless aspect derived here is thusly the benefits ascribing to such influence and shepherding brings to our mortal lives. What’s more, those very same personal teachings are things that are often *not* ones which otherwise come naturally and effortlessly to us; things our ancient cultures+societies wouldn’t have integrated or carried out. We have our better angels whispering delicately in our ears (to be sure!), yet all the same our far lesser demons urge us to succumb to baser instincts and pettiness.
Love and compassion towards family and friends might come naturally… but to show kindness, forgiveness and mercy to one who has somehow significantly harmed or wronged us on a deeply personal level? To generously give the shirts off our very backs to a stranger in need? Giving clemency and aid to our greatest “enemies”?
These simply are not things that come easily, on sheer instinct alone. They require nothing less than the most exceptional and disciplined of souls, having rigorously devoted themselves to learning and realizing various religious teachings that demand a genuinely trained and studious sort of mindset. Even something as simple as monogamous marriage could’ve just as easily never have been in favor of nomadic lifestyles of hunting, gathering, and philandering – with those couplings being of considerable importance in both having and raising children.
So the reality is that, were we all seven billion of us somehow able (almost miraculously) to embrace every last positive parable and teaching our Creator provided us with so long ago? This world would be one utterly transformed, being made into a far better -nearly unrecognizably so!- place where we each looked out for and took care of one another while eradicating war, conflict, interpersonal bickering, malice and other such undesirable bits of pure negativity.
As for a specific example of this notion (and from a slightly different perspective than most of us might be most familiar with, regarding Judaism in place of Christianity)…? So then, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar is Yom Kippur, which translates to the “Day of Atonement.”
Now sure, there’s the usual bit of fasting and hours spent deep in prayer that take place with Yom Kippur. But of the most critical aspects on a purely human level, is something that comes with the direct asking of forgiveness from our fellow man – those who we perceive our being responsible for having somehow wronged that party during the course of the year/our lives.
Therefore, right alongside the “normal” religious or divine aspects to such holy days, we also find the sort of mindset that can only improve our immediate and present-day lives/surroundings. It makes those observers of Yom Kippur reflect deeply on their own sins and mistakes, seeking to find and uncover times when they erred and went astray from the so-called path of “righteousness.”
All the more, as a part of asking for that forgiveness, it demands nothing less than the wrong doing party temporarily stepping outside of their own perspective, in order to reflect and gain insight from the vantage point of “the other side” – being the person who they themselves personally wronged. Once that understanding has been gleaned, they are to then plead for forgiveness from the “victimized” party – someone who is also expected to follow their own better angels and resolutely forgive the perpetrator… at least, that is, offering up their forgiveness just so long as the person’s plea for it is believed to be entirely sincere in nature.
Now none of these actions are things we would ever do normally; something carried out simply in the course of our day-to-day lives. Yet it’s something that we indeed *should* be doing… all of us, doing it every single day! Imagine just how greatly indeed it works to serve and promote a truly matured person, one embracing qualities of better understanding, who turns to compassion and love over revenge and hatred, all while enhancing their innate “goodness” in life. Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, whether they belong to a loved one, a stranger, or someone who’s rather despised, universally proves to be an experience we can only ever hope to grow from (if only in some way or another.)
On the intensely personal level, those tasks carried out during the course of Yom Kippur can prevent both of the two parties or “sides” from going down an ever-so-slippery slope – squarely towards the waiting maw of a dark abyss thay devolves into outright conflict that, if continued unimpeded as such, would only bring *both* sides considerable detriment moving forward; a battle waged where only losers exist, not victors.
So here, on this Earth, the greatest reward from our religious beliefs comes in improving the quality of our own individual lives. Divinity offers us the necessary steps to present the perfect way of handling things and living our lives as ideally as possible… to do good -doing the *right* thing- as opposed to risking harm by going with whatever we might feel is best if left solely to our own devices, such flawed and imperfect creatures we are compared to our Creator. These divine teachings are nothing less than “instructions” detailing the path toward the best of conceivable outcomes, the very greatest of all worlds, and the absolute most fantastic of futures.
Thusly, it is this one fact, above all others, that makes applying oneself toward better conceiving of such theological matters something of a quality we should all possess and increasingly pursue over time.
If we all of us were to live our lives dedicated to following the very same sorts of guidance/notions from divinity, we’d scarcely even recognize a civilization absent any conflicts and war, devoid of malicious violence, senseless death, destruction or such acts of generalized mayhem – to instead focus on doing all that we can to bring aid, comfort and success for anyone… and everyone… that we possibly could!
Just the same, however, in such a world as that? Rather than solely making us “carry the weight and lift the burden off of others, and only onto ourselves”…? So too would anyone and everyone be doing the same thing – yet instead doing so for us, personally! We’d carry the burdens of everyone around us, as everyone around us lifts our own burdens off our weary backs.
As amazing of a place as our contemporary world is here today, still could it rather easily be so much better indeed. Were we only to rededicate ourselves towards the benefit of the many over our own selves, to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and goodness; while continually embracing the sorts of paths that have moved us so positively into this impossibly futuristic world we now so greatly enjoy?
Although this itself might perhaps be too much to realistically hope for during our lives, across all of mankind, we can in fact affect such change by carrying out those efforts personally and “leading by example.”
And *this*, all of it starts with realizing and embracing the very teachings and lessons that got us to where we now are – focused squarely upon the pursuit of selflessness over selfishness, charity over greed, equality over bigotry, love over hate, and with knowledge, understanding, reason and logic being placed above nearly all else.
Yet despite an open embrace of the future, never should we forget where we came from – realizing that lessons and guidance will continually be uncovered through learning of both the mistakes *and* the wisdom of our forebears collective pasts.
I suppose that, in a certain sense, one could say that those sacred works provide something of a roadmap to a life where following those ways exactly most often leads to the most ideal and contented of lives. This, being realized as such believers often become only more resolute in their faith – having already experienced how the process simply “works” and following along, even when doing so goes opposite our initial instincts, is the very best or most perfect of choices we might have at the time.