Within the past year starting in Spring 2016 up to now, I have accepted almost every opportunity that I could get to explore my spirituality. Since my freshman year of college, I challenged myself to learn more about the bible and Christianity as I did a weekly bible study with my spiritual advisor at the time. As we continued with bible studies, propositions of getting me baptized were presented but I never felt ready to make that big leap into being saved and the strict lifestyle associated with it. The other reason was that I realized that I am more of a spiritual person rather than a religious one. I don’t believe Christianity is the one and only way to getting into heaven, paradise, nirvana, or whatever you want to call it. I think that all religions have validity and so I started to Identify myself more with a new faith called Bahaism which is centered around multiethnic inclusivity and belief in the commonality of all religions (i.e peace, love, and community).
When I told people that I was Bahai, they thought I was in a cult or some made up religion but to be honest, any of the religions we have in existence could be made up. Even though I considered myself Bahai since freshman year, I didn’t know any other Bahais to orient me to the culture and faith. Unlike other faiths, Bahais usually meet once a month to worship together either in their temple or someone’s house so I felt shy to go to their meetings. It wasn’t until fall 2015 that I contacted the Boston Bahai group through their website requesting to be connected with the Bahai youth. I have to say Bahais are very resourceful and can match you other Bahais anywhere in the world. They responded to me within 24 hours and I was invited to a devotional by one of their youth leaders. One of my good friends and roommate at the time was nice enough to tag along despite being a devout Christian as she was scared that this “crazy cult” would abduct or brainwash me. However, the people turned out to be very nice and the devotional was mainly reading some of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh (the founder of Bahaism) and singing from a hymn book (written by other Bahais from around the world). I also got to learn a bit more about how Bahai leadership works and was impressed by the fact that the nine leaders of Bahai are actually elected by the Bahais themselves. I attended two more devotionals and someone even gifted me a prayer book for women. However, after 5 months of being a somewhat devout Bahai, I decided that I wasn’t connecting to the faith. Understanding Bahá’u’lláh’s writings was kind of difficult considering that he wrote them in the 1800s. The writings also kind of seemed cult like to me as he sometimes writes as if he is a manifestation of God. To put that simply, he seems to think that God is speaking through him.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that Bahá’u’lláh’ thinks himself as a manifestation of God considering that Bahaism is based on the belief that all the religions are based on different interpretations of the same God. Simply put, the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, etc all saw the same God but perceived him/her differently. If you understand anything about perspective, it does make sense. There’s no way we could all be visited by God and all view him the same way. However, I think what separates Bahaism from Christianity, which I grew up with, is that Bahá’u’lláh’ wrote the books for Bahaism whereas the Bible was written by multiple people so it can be interpreted as more reliable than a guy claiming to be getting direction from God and writing books praising himself.
Due to the less credible history of Bahaism and my inability to connect with the readings, I decided to go back to Christianity. My parents, especially my mom, was delighted that I was now sticking to the family religion. I started to read the bible again and even decided to get baptized in the protestant way (in total submission of water rather than my infant baptism in the catholic church where the priest sprinkles water on your face). Even though I now affiliate with Christianity, I still don’t believe that Christianity is the supreme of all religions. I still believe other religions have validity. My decision to be Christian is based on what makes most sense to me and what best facilitates my connection with God. I am not the most devout and I am still a sinner but I feel at peace now being confident in what I believe in. This journey of self-exploration with regard to spirituality was worth it and I would recommend it to everyone.