When currently talking about faith, we can often encounter disapproval from the young or a sigh of exasperation from the elderly. Many times these two reactions mix to create a huge brawl at the dinner table. What is faith these days? Who believes what and why? People who have been through a lot with their faith talk about their beliefs for the editors of GentleWoman Poland.
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In Poland, the Christian faith is the leading faith. However, for a good few years now, Mass attendance has been reaching an all-time low, while apostasy has been growing in popularity. The church community has begun to firmly divide. Hence the opinions of the elderly about the youth and their approach to the church. However, is this a good approach? Young people are looking at the world in an informed way. They ask and seek answers, often against what the institution of the church suggests. The general principles adopted by the church have become well overdue. So what surprises us about seeking change? If we disagree with an institution, can we still believe?
Emilia [23 lata]
“For me, believing in God has never involved going to church. However, it was a kind of duty for me, which I meticulously fulfilled for many years. In fact, that’s how it was until I moved in on my own and was able to reflect on my choice, without the surrounding voices of family and friends. It was then that I faced the question – what is faith for me? This question drilled a hole in my stomach every time Sunday approached and I did not go to church. After some time I came to my answer. For me, faith is a relationship. A relationship consisting of friendship and love. A relationship that I don’t have to strive and fight for, because it just is. Like any other it requires nurturing, in the form of conversations, sincerity, smiles and good intentions. And it is in this definition of faith that I live best. I talk to God, tell him about my life, ask for help and give thanks for what he sends me every day. I don’t need the surroundings of a wall, bells and depressing chants to do that. There is a lot of love in my definition of faith, because God himself is love and goodness to me. Someone who filled my heart and head, and when He does, everything becomes easier.”
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In recent years we have seen a huge interest in Buddhism. The idea of experiencing has appealed to the public, resulting in more and more posts and videos on the subject. Spiritual development, affirmations, manifestations are very popular terms lately. However, is it really such an “ideal” religion? Buddhism has no personal God, faith is placed in the unlimited power of the Universe. Thanks to the rational principles of Buddhism, it is one of the few religions that has avoided conflicts and wars on the level of beliefs. Despite many beautiful principles, such as mandating respect for every living being, you will also find many inaccuracies and problems. To become a Buddhist, one must attend a monastery as a disciple. The problem, however, is that full obedience is required of the students. Opposition to the wisdom and enlightenment of one’s teacher is unacceptable. Another troublesome element of the faith is the view of women. In Buddhism, women are considered somehow impure beings and less important than men.
Ania [27 lat]
“I’m a Buddhist. I identify with my faith, and of course I can’t imagine putting so much faith in anything else. Admittedly, I don’t agree with everything, but I think it’s impossible to agree with everything! There are principles that do not convince me, that reject me, or that seem irrational to me. I don’t think men are “above me,” it’s an old belief that unfortunately still works for some. However, in addition to such principles in Buddhism, we have a number of others that fill life and the heart with love and kindness. Faith and spiritual development are an endless source of love for me! If I didn’t have it I would probably quickly become a bitter, closed-off girl. Buddhism is a religion of experience, I think that’s what makes it so unique. The supreme being is man, and it is in ourselves that we look for the so-called “divine particle.” As a result, I am constantly working on my behavior, my thoughts and actions. Thanks to this faith, I know that doing good starts with myself. First it’s me who has to find harmony and love within myself to be able to pass it on to someone!”
Some associate Hinduism with restrictions, others with respect. It all depends on one’s outlook on the world. This religion mixes features of religions from all over the world, but is most associated with restrictions on eating meat and, of course, reincarnation. In this religion, domestic cattle, especially cows, are considered sacred, so eating them is strictly forbidden. The same is true of other factions of Hinduism – there, general bans on eating any meat also function. Another curiosity of this religion is the sacred objects, of which there are many. They can be landscape elements, architecture or animals and other living creatures. So is this the right direction? After all, it is impossible to worship everything. On top of that, we still have to deny ourselves eating meat for the sake of faith….
Anijka [24 lata]
“I am an Indian living in Poland since birth. The faith was passed on to me by my parents. My dad is originally from India, so it was natural for him to believe in Hinduism. (…) Like any human being I was searching a lot! Especially living in Poland, where we have a Christian faith. I was curious about other beliefs, in addition to that I also faced a lot of placard pointing by Hinduism… And I think it is because of these harder times that my faith is so strong. Hinduism prohibits harming any being by deed, thought and word. We are supposed to be cordial to each other and show assistance. All the more rejection of me as a child was incomprehensible to me. Hinduism recognizes that any faith that leads to God is good. You can imagine what my surprise was when others did not accept my faith! But I knew that Hinduism is filled with love and principles that protect the lives of people and animals. I think it is a religion that makes us feel taken care of, respected and loved. I am proud to admit that I am Indian!”
One may not believe in anything. If there are already shortcomings in every religion then why believe in something that may turn out to be wrong in the end? Atheism is a view that, in analyzing religious language, means not finding meaning in deities. Because the words and principles of various religions refer to figures whose existence we cannot rationally prove, atheists claim that believers do not understand what they are praying to at all. All holidays and rituals seem irrational to them. Any argument of faith for atheists is completely unnecessary, because no argument is rational enough for them.
Milosz [29 lat]
“I never felt the need for faith. I didn’t hold out hope that some magical, higher power would help me embrace life. I do not negate those who believe, because many of them have tried to make me realize that it is easier to live with faith. They are probably right, however, this is not my direction. I don’t like to put the responsibility on someone or something, so praying for something to succeed seems pointless. I have read a lot about various beliefs, rituals, rites and I treat it as part of the history of the world and humanity. When he needs support and love I direct myself to those closest to me. Then we talk about various events and problems, looking for solutions together. I have my principles, a moral spine based on respect for others. I think human kindness is not defined by faith. I consider myself a good person.”
Faith is love
Every person who took part in an interview with GentleWoman Poland used the word – “love” – at least once in their speech. Whether they believe, how they believe and what they believe in, they all cared about the same thing – to love and be loved. We live in a time when we expand our awareness every day, respect, tolerate, accept every person. Since we all care about the same things, why not let everyone follow the voice of their heart and the principles that will work best for them? After all, at the very end it will still count – love.