Comparative Religion must be one of the most comprehensive and interesting spiritual studies I have submerged myself into and I am a better person for it. Many similarities exist between each individual religion. Being exposed to the reasons and histories that birthed from cultures and ethnic communities I never truly understood before gave me the ability to develop a great respect for what another holds spiritually significant for their very life being. Each week offered new resources to peak the curiosity and seek out more understanding about the various figures, histories, cultural influences and current continuation of spiritual practices, many of which are nearby to me within my own community that I never really looked at before.
Gaining the historical evolution of various religions instead of just hearing the same creation stories I grew up trying to decipher from fairytales and myths offered me the chance to truly learn and place importance on why many of these religions came into existence and the purpose they play for various societies. While I am currently living in an era of religious division and community competition, I saw that each one originally existed in its own culture to create cohesive societies, to protect the communities with practices and standards they strove to uphold, and gave the people in each society a sense of belonging to a purpose that benefited the good of many.
Many spiritual practices I may not fully comprehend or know much about were dismissed easily because they weren’t seen as truthful or important compared to my own practices. Now I see that most of those faith communities believe just as strongly as any other and with just as much importance of creating good for all. I see that historically, interpretations have muffled much of the truth for all of the different faiths and that the ones who are really listening to the voice of origin and universal faith are still speaking of and leading others to a bigger, calm, universal truth.
Mostly I saw that there are so many other communities of faith sitting within my own community of faith and non-faith right here every day. There are centers and temples and schools all within blocks of each other. I’m sure I have looked at the places and at the people but never really saw them, and never really approached them with the curiosity of wanting to hear them and learn about them, instead of the curiosity of wanting to confirm my own thoughts about what they are to me.
Through much world travel and my own open spiritual yearnings I have been blessed to have been immersed in many various cultures and to live in the midst of much of their spiritual lifestyles. I was lucky that although my very southern Baptist grandparents and the teachings were closed and hateful to other forms of faith, that they were still loving people of faith. While being strictly held within that faith I was also living in a catholic boarding school, and attending the Methodist services with my other grandparents. While many Catholics have a darker stricter tale of their childhood education, I had the priest that would bring in various religious leaders from far and wide to meet his kids. I had the priest that stated the “One God, One Love, Universal Divine and We’re all in this together.” My favorite part of this course was the continuation of the universal theme of unity. Learning about other cultural spiritual practices and beliefs creates a deeper respect for any person and their faith, regardless of how it differs from our own practicing belief.
I loved the references, the reading lists and the additional research options. I will admit that I skimmed over lessons many times because they were simply way too long to try to read through and then do the additional work in conclusion. Most of the times the links were incompatible with my system and I ended up searching out the information word by word to try to find something similar and acceptable. Yet still, these are where I learned the most fascinating amounts of information from in architecture, art histories, and ancient civilizations.