When Your Faith Isn't Faith Based
While some religions are founded on a creedal code and prosper, Hinduism maintains a fierce independence of thought.
One of the most puzzling things I often say in my lectures on the Hindu Dharma to church groups and schools is that Hinduism isn’t faith based. That is, while we have plenty of doctrines to share, we have no solid dogmas that bind “the faithful” to our fold. It is in this area that we share a great deal with our Jewish friends. To Jews, what they believe, how they conceive of a deity, or even if they take the time to acknowledge a deity has nothing to do with their membership in good standing with their religion. I’ve had students question the ability to even have a viable religion without locking adherents into a communal creed. Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that. But certainly two of the oldest religions in the world have found a way to make it work.
There is no question that Christianity and Islam have gained great power in insisting upon very exact beliefs that adherents must hold. Heresy continues to be a danger zone that few care to enter. I’ll add that in the last century more liberal Christian denominations have taken a less creedal path. But in 2,000 years it is still the exception to the rule. It makes me realize that the world’s faiths use different elements of human psychology to maintain traditions and grow ranks. Sometimes those tools are the exact opposite of what another faith is using for its own purposes. So while some religions are founded on a creedal code and prosper, Hinduism maintains a fierce independence of thought that allows its adherents to think themselves…sometimes right out of the religion…with our blessings.
Virtually every religion has a sort of demerit system. Hinduism certainly has its. But believing the“wrong thing” doesn’t lose points for Gryffindor or anyone else. Even atheism, if embraced out of true spiritual inquiry and not simple laziness can be considered a noble effort. The Sanatana Dharma has plenty of opportunities to acquire less-than-good karma. But it’s equally available to believers and nonbelievers alike.