Today I was talking with my granddaughter, Moya, age 9, when she came home from school.
While I cleaned out her lunch box, she said, “My friends keep talking to me about religion and I don’t like it. There is no god up there. That’s silly. Where is ‘up’ anyway?”
I asked her, “Why do you think kids believe the things they do. Where did they learn it?” I also added, “Where did you get the idea there was no god? Who taught you that?”
I explained to her that kids usually believe what their parents tell them to believe. Our family, or at least the ones who are part of our lives, are not Christian. We are Buddhist or atheist. Other people might need something ‘out there’ that loves them and has a plan for their life, but we don’t.
“Your parents didn’t teach you god was a real thing, Moya. You should understand why we don’t. You should, as you mature, think about the pros and cons of both. Question it. Then you can decide for yourself if it has value for your life, or if you decide you have no use for it you should know why.”
“Ask people why they believe what they do. I did. Most people said it was what they were taught when they were young.”
“Are parents always right?” she asked.
After thinking for a minute she added “What if the parents didn’t believe the same thing. How do the kids know who to believe?”
“That’s a good question,” I told her. “It would be confusing if one parent believed in God and the other one didn’t. What if one person was Jewish and the other was Catholic. Both believe on God, but each has very different rituals.
“Tell me,” I asked her, “Why do you believe there is no God?”
“Because it doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to believe it just because someone else does. Especially because they can’t tell me why it is true. People make things up and say God did it. How do they know that? Or they say things like, ‘God says . . .” when I know he didn’t say anything to them. That is lying.”
“There are many religions throughout the world.” I explained. “They teach many things. I believe the most important thing about any religion is that it teaches you is how to be a better person. Can you to learn the right thing to do? Do the teachings tell you to have blind faith? Does it teach you that you are responsible for your actions, and if you do something wrong, it affects your life? You are responsible. Or does it teach you to pray to God to fix your problems?”
I was a Christian when I was young and lived at home. I went to Sunday School and church was old enough to move away from home . I couldn’t see that it helped anyone. People went to church because all their friends did. It was another 15 years before I started studying Buddhism. That was 30 years ago. Even my mother left the church for Nichiren Buddhism.
These are heavy concepts for a nine year old to wrap their head around. She hasn’t has much experience in the world. It would be great to have an unseen entity fix things without us having to worry about it. We learn from or mistakes. If we don’t acquire the wisdom to do things ourselves we don’t change.
I have been told more than once that to get into heaven you only need to make sure to ask Jesus to come into your heart and all sins (causes you made) will be forgiven. Then you can go to heaven. People focus on heaven because they think they will be happy there. I never could buy that. You could be hateful, cheat, steal, even molest a child, then ask for forgiveness and you are saved!
Will that create a happy life? I doubt it. It also makes more sense to me that heaven and hell are a state of mind we live every day.
“Your teacher told me you were acting out on class. She had to make you sit in time out. ” I continued. ” When she turned around to talk to someone you got up as if you didn’t have to listen.” You got into trouble. You caused it to yourself. You are responsible for your unhappiness. This is what I meant by cause and effect. Everything you do affects your life in some way, either in a good way or a bad way.
“If you make good causes by doing the right thing your life will be happy. Not laughing happy. Good happy. You enjoy life.”
“Aways try to do the right thing and learn from your mistakes. Be good to people. Treat them the way you want to be treated.” Moya was listening hard so I continued to try to help her understand.
“Many people who say their life is about loving God believe they will be happy that way.”
If I say anymore it to will be too much for her. But I’d like to add something else for the readers who have as account on Facebook. The God posters are getting to be too much. I can understand it on the timeline – to a degree. It’s your page. You can post anything you want. But respect that other people may not be Christian. If you want to send out messages through messenger to the people you are connected to, don’t just automatically send it out to everyone. It isn’t like your timeline where things get pushed down if you aren’t there to see it.
Those messages that were sent out through messager sit there until you personally attend to it. My faith is Buddhism. I had to write back to more people than I cared to, asking them to please stop sending me Christian religious stuff. It isn’t appreciated. I don’t send Buddhist quotes or Gosho passages to you.
If I want to talk about Nichiren Buddhism I will write a post on my blog. That blog post will go to my timeline. You might see it if You are on fb at that time. But I don’t send it to you personally. If you want to send yours, go through your list and select those you know would want to receive it. Or make a Facebook page that expresses your belief and ask those friends to “like” it. Then your religious quotes will go to those people. Be respectful.