What Religion is About


(This is an excerpt from an interview with Brother Wayne Teasdale, a Roman Catholic monk. This interview was part of “A Parliament of Souls” series.)

I think in the long run it isn’t about being right. It is about being. Being kind, being patient, being loving, not judging, drawing out the best in the other, seeing the presence of Christ or the divine in the other, not pigeonholing, being totally open.

Something really struck me a few years ago when a reporter for TIME magazine asked the Dalai Lama, who was badgering him, to give him the secret of what he believed. His Holiness looked at him and smiled and started to laugh. He simply said, “My religion is kindness, my religion is kindness.”

As a Christian I have to say my religion is love, my religion is compassion, my religion is kindness too. That is the essence. Kindness, love, compassion, patience, gentleness, nonviolence, inclusivity, including more, not being an elitist circle. This is the fruit of spirituality in action. So it doesn’t matter what you believe. It is important but it doesn’t matter in the long run. It matters what you are. And that is seen in how you treat people, how you can be to them, and how you can look beyond simply your own needs.

I would like to hear the fundamentalists talk more about love and less about being right or who is right. Only God can judge who is right and who is wrong. He knows the heart, and goes by the heart, not by the appearances or the words. What they do in their actions ? Whatever you do to the least of my brethren – and that is universal in every tradition.

In other words, in every tradition how you treat other people is indicative of the degree of spiritual enlightenment you have. It is the measure. A person can claim to have that consciousness of knowing the ultimate mysteries of the universe, knowing God directly, being united with God, but if that person is unloving or unkind in his or her behavior, then I would be a little on the skeptical side. I don’t think you get there unless you pay the price of transformation.

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