- Ask yourself: "What religion, if any, do I follow?"
- There is no right answer and of course you don't have to follow any religion. However, simply the process of coming up with an answer will give you greater clarity on what your life's path is meant to be.
- The sooner you embark on this quest, the sooner you can course correct.
A couple of months ago, I was sitting at a pub with a medical registrar who was a number of years my senior. We'd just had dinner with a group of colleagues, all of whom had left, and it was just the two of us remaining. I'd had a number of conversations with my registrar over the past month about Medicine and life. I'd even proposed the idea of starting a medical education YouTube channel with him. We'd become quite good friends despite the power imbalance. On this particular night however, somehow the conversation turned to religion.
Now religion is something that up until this point I haven't considered a great deal. I was born into Hinduism as this is the religion my parents follow. However, living in Newcastle, Australia where our nearest temple is ~2 hours away, we were never the most strict Hindus.
Though not all Tamil people are Hindus, the majority are. Hinduism is more than just a religion. It's an integral part of the Tamil culture. To renounce Hinduism would be like shunning your own people. So, by default, growing up I continued following the same Hindu practices my parents did.
As a 22-year-old male with a scientific, but also this spiritual, background, I was caught in a hard place. To believe or not to believe. Ultimately, I had gotten to this point by taking the following approach:
I believed there to be a God, but it was my opinion that ultimately it didn't really matter what religion you followed, they all essentially had the same concept of God as the supreme being. Each religion was just a journey to the same endpoint.
I need to just take a moment to emphasise that at the time I was probably as uneducated as someone could be about religion. I knew almost nothing about all religions and I hadn't actively thought about them mainly because:
- I preferred spending my time doing other things.
- I believed that if I did investigate religion too much I'd come to the conclusion that in fact God isn't real and I'd be in a tough place culturally. So I felt the easier thing to do was to bury my head in the sand and ignore these questions as long as possible.
Subsequently, my beliefs were extremely fragile and subject to change based on how much persuasion I received. I am still not extensively versed in many religions but I now have a more basic understanding of Christianity and Hinduism.
Anyways, during this conversation with my friend, he talked about how when he was a similar age to myself, he decided to investigate religion a little more. He was born into Christianity but he too, like many modern young adults, felt that religion perhaps was a myth. After extensive research into Christianity though, he discovered its truth and ultimately decided to identify as a Christian and largely follow Christian beliefs.
He mentioned that this journey was probably the most important thing he had done in his life until that point.
From my perspective, he appeared to have such clarity about his purpose and direction in life and from what he told me this all stemmed from his discovery of Christianity. There was an idea he talked about that has stuck with me to this day which I'll paraphrase in a more memorable way since I can't properly remember it:
The question of, "What religion do I follow?" is perhaps THE most important question you can answer in your lifetime.
This resonated with me because I realised that if you truly understand your thoughts and feelings around spirituality and religion and are able to articulate them well, then you can find your direction in life. As someone who thinks a lot about my future, my purpose and my life's meaning, I'm constantly searching for answers. And whilst I know the answer to this question might not solve the 'purpose of life' question for everyone, I do believe everyone can derive some benefit or clarity from embarking on the journey.
As an example, if, after thinking and learning more about religion, you decide that you want to be an atheist, then I believe that knowledge gives you incredible power. It signifies that you are the master of your own life and it empowers you to choose the life you want for yourself.
On the other hand, if you were to choose something like Christianity as your religion, you may be similarly empowered, albeit in a different way. Instead of being caught in the flux of indecision associated with having the entire world as your oyster, you may be more oriented around spreading the word of God and trying to gain forgiveness for your sins.
As for me, I haven't quite come to my own conclusions yet, but when I do you'll be sure to hear about it.