“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama
There is a vast difference between naming your faith and living your faith.
I often use the paradox of the person always early for service, sitting in the front pew who then makes faces at the late comers and those with little children who are trying their best to keep their kids quiet (sometimes using Cheerios or toys as bribes). Sometimes these denizens of the front row are the very same folks who cut you off in the parking lot or don’t acknowledge your friendly nod in the coffee shop.
Naming your faith and making sure it is on display for all to see is not the same as living a life, everyday, filled with kindness, compassion and service. Sorting your fellow community members into the worthy and the unworthy is so against the very lessons of love and acceptance at the root of faith. Feeling that a donation can buy your way in or “up” was the cause of religious separation hundreds of years ago, yet today we still see those that feel making a donation or inviting the religious from their congregation to their homes gives them the edge.
For every “pillar of the community” there are many that volunteer, serve, drop off donations and connect with political leaders on behalf of those in need among us. Because those random acts of kindness aren’t publicized and by their very nature don’t earn “brownie points” the value does not lie in how other’s perceive us but how God, or our greater being perceives us and at the end of the day – how we perceive ourselves.
In living our faith everday, starting from the inside out, it becomes who we are instead of what we do. We begin within ourselves, our homes and our families and then carry the positive energy to the world outside us. It puts us in touch with each other and with our God or Being in a way that is meaningdul and directive, and it is accepting of our shortcomings due to the fact that we are indeed all only human.