Religions were banned when I was growing up.
Despite his heroic leadership of the people in founding the new China in 1949, Chairman Mao’s mentality of revolution didn’t serve the post-independence needs of the country. Instead, his manufactured unhealthy “class struggle” stifled growth and creativity.
Buddhist temples were burned down. Mao was to be worshiped.
You can take away people’s rights but you can’t take away people’s spirit.
Thousands of years of eastern philosophies and practices have been tightly stitched into the Chinese cultural fiber. The moral values, societal rules, and the importance of balance in Confucianism; the ideal of living simply, living in the present, and being in tune with nature in Daoism (often referred to as Taoism in the west); and the concept of impermanence and detachment in Buddhism. The relentless pursuit of virtues, discipline, and self-cultivation in all three.
These three most important philosophies powerfully guide the “Being” (how we show up) and “Doing” (how we act) of more than a billion people, including those experiencing the era when religions were banned. The North Star never moved.
I believe in a higher power much larger than us. I feel the cosmic magic in every breath I take and every moment I live. I constantly feel connected to an all-encompassing universal energy, an extraordinarily undividing force of love regardless of how faiths may manifest in a particular culture in a particular way. My close friends represent a wide range of religions and I love learning about each of them, which further strengthens my faith in a higher power.
In my first week of living in the U. S., I was 22, without a car, any friend, or for that matter - much of anything. A middle-aged woman from Taiwan came to my apartment to convince me to join her church. She said if I go to her church then she will take me to buy groceries in her car; If I don’t, then she won’t. Calmly and firmly, I asked her to leave.
Though unspoken, I heard her judgment more loudly than any words ever spoken. The kind that is so loud that it's not up for discussion or potentially for self-awareness.
So often, we are quick to judge, quick to criticize, quick to see things in black or white, quick to alienate, and quick to impose.
I have a pastor friend in Ohio. He doesn’t judge others based on their religions or beliefs. He proactively extends himself to invite others to share. I have so much respect for him that I asked him to read this post before I decided to publish it.
In the past 24 years of living in the US, I have been walking gingerly around the topic of religion, as I didn’t want to be alienated or ostracized.
What I realize now is that by avoiding it and by not expressing myself, I am depriving the world of my voice, and depriving others around me an opportunity to potentially see a different perspective.
We don’t have to like or adopt anyone else’s perspective, but our openness and ability to see more than one perspective enriches our view of anything (including faith) and make it much more magnificent.
P.S. In case you are curious - Yes, I was able to find a way to get groceries. And Yes - I have been to church and enjoyed it.