This was originally posted on 9/4/2012.
There is a story that has been circulated online about a conversation that took place at an interfaith conference between the Dalai Lama and the Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff.*
When recalling the conversation, Leonardo Boff confesses he thought the Dalai Lama would defend oriental religions as being the best, but instead, His Holiness answered, “the best religion is the one that gets you closer to God and makes you a better person.”
Expanding on that, he went on to say, “whatever makes you more compassionate, more sensible, more responsible. The religion that will do that for you is the best religion, for you.”
Clearly inspired by where his thoughts were leading, His Holiness added, “I am not interested, my friend, in your religion, or if you are religious or not. What is important to me is your behavior with your peers, family, work, community and in front of the world.”
I am a Christian and have been all of my life. I was born into a Christian family, as a young girl I chose to be a Christian and many times throughout my life I have chosen to remain a Christian. However, my idea of what it means to be a Christian has changed so dramatically over the last decade that it sometimes feels like I have completely changed religions.
I have changed enough that some Christians have even questioned if I still have the right to call myself a Christian. To them I would say, “the best Christianity is the one that gets you closer to God and makes you a better person.”
I might even add, “whatever makes you more compassionate, more sensible, more loving, more responsible … that’s the kind of Christianity one should pursue. You should not be so concerned with what I believe as how I behave … with my peers, my family and friends, at work, in my community and in front of the world.”
Just as some have reasons to choose a new religion I have reasons to remain a Christian and yet, that doesn’t mean that I am not changing my religion.
I hope I continue to change my religion as I grow and learn more about what it means to be the best kind of Christian – the kind that moves me closer to God and makes me a better person.
*I could not verify that the story is true, however, the ideas presented seem to be harmonious to the Dalai Lama’s philosophy and the teachings of Buddhism.