All human beings believe in some sets of values, which influence their actions and thoughts. These beliefs, though vary with individuals, are inevitable in everybody’s lives. The set of beliefs followed by each person is called his belief system. Every action and thought of an individual is judged right or wrong by him, according to his belief system. For example, it is the social belief system of an individual, that influences his ideas about how to behave in public and speak to others in society. This paper deals with various topics like, how my beliefs make up a religious belief system, how I acquired it, the benefits and disadvantages of having my particular religious belief system, the role of tradition in it, the role of tradition in religion in general, and the importance of being knowledgeable about other peoples’ beliefs and attitudes towards religion.
In order to discuss how beliefs make up a religious belief system, it is important to know what a religious belief system is. Almost every individual follows a set of religious beliefs, which influences his decisions. This set of religious beliefs is from his religious belief system. Every set of religious beliefs form a belief system, but every belief system does not necessarily be formed from religious beliefs. Following a particular religious belief system, makes an individual decide what is right and wrong. “…religious belief is an extremely powerful motivator of human behavior.” (Stevens, 2002). Religious beliefs change with different religions. An action or thought that seems right to an individual may not seem right to another who follows a different set of religious beliefs, though it is found the basic beliefs of all religions are the same. The fear of God is generally seen in every religious belief system, only it is developed through different religious beliefs.
The next topic is about how I acquired my religious belief system. An individual can acquire a particular religious belief system in many ways. It can be through education, from the environment in which he grows and through parents. Schools influence children’s thoughts to a great extent. If the school follows a particular set of religious beliefs or a particular religion, there are chances that the students develop an interest in it and begin to follow those beliefs. It can be from the society in which an individual lives. Socializing and interacting with people of other religions, might influence one’s religious beliefs. (Beit-Hallahmi, & Argyle, 1997, p.97).
Also, religious classes and talks can develop a certain set of beliefs that the children will tend to follow later. It can be developed from the parents too, by following their religious beliefs. As children are first introduced to the religious belief system of their parents, following them is the most common trend seen in society, though other influences are not rare. I acquired my religious belief system from my parents. I have accepted and followed their beliefs, since childhood, though I do believe in other religions and their religious values too. Listening to different religious classes and talks, and interacting with others have helped me in having a better understanding of other religious beliefs.
There are many benefits and disadvantages of having a particular religious belief system. The belief in certain religious principles helps people judge what is right and wrong based on the beliefs. Most religions believe that people who do good deeds will go to heaven after death and the ones who do sins will go to hell. The fear that this belief creates pulls most people back from doing bad deeds. Each belief system directs its followers on how to live the right way, with certain rules and restrictions. Religious beliefs also help their followers psychologically, in cases of any kind of suffering. The belief that the supreme power will bring happiness, boosts the confidence of the followers. But, there are also disadvantages when followers rely too much on their particular religious belief systems. They refuse to accept other religions and their beliefs which leads to religious fights and crimes. Another disadvantage of having too many religious beliefs is that it is not possible for people to completely follow the rules at all times. I have benefited from my religious belief system. I don’t have the courage to do harm to anyone purposefully. The fear of God stops me from deviating from the right way. The disadvantages are minor compared to the benefits.
The role of tradition in my belief system is of primary importance. Traditions are part of every religion. In my religion too, there are hundreds of traditions, which are being followed blindly by every generation. Traditions are followed every day in various matters. It has so much a part of life, that many of them are no more conscious actions. It is traditional to pray in the evenings as most other religious belief systems teach. Prayer before every new endeavor is also a part of the system. The tradition includes festivals that are celebrated every year with complete sincerity. Most of the traditional dresses are worn only during festival times. These festivals are the only occasions when the whole family comes together, leaving aside everyone’s busy schedules and tensions. Most of the traditions of the religion are still followed and doing it the right way, gives satisfaction. It is not possible to follow all the traditions always because there are a lot of them, but it is followed as far as possible. Some traditions have undergone certain changes in order to suit the improvements and advancements that have come about in lifestyles.
In fact, every religion follows a lot of traditions that cannot be ignored after any generation, since without them the religions or the religious belief systems are not complete. “The terms religion and tradition are, as earlier stated, used not only as cognates but also as synonyms.” (Religion and tradition. (n.d)).
Usually, people follow their own traditions, because traditions are important in an individual’s and a community’s identity. A person with no tradition is not very highly thought of in society. Traditions are what all religions are proud to hold on to even after generations. Traditions influence the followers’ actions to a great extent, though many people don’t realize the reasons behind following them. However, there are also traditions, which no longer exist due to various reasons. They can be only read about in books. The changes in lifestyles, the lack of awareness about the right ways to follow them, and the fear of the consequences of practicing them the wrong way, are some of the reasons for it.
It is very important to have knowledge about other religions, their attitudes towards them, and their religious belief systems. Global migration has made the world come closer and every land consists of people of varying religions and beliefs. Interactions with people of other religious beliefs cannot be avoided in any field. Only a proper understanding of other religions will help in accepting their tradition and beliefs as equal to one’s own. It is important to know that no religion and religious belief system is superior to or inferior to any other. This understanding must be developed from an early age so that any kind of discrimination or prejudice against any particular community can be avoided.
To conclude, religious belief systems and traditions are part of every religion and almost all individuals. Belief systems, in general, which need not necessarily be religious, motivate people to make the right decisions and lead a good, righteous life of values. Only knowledge about other religious belief systems will develop mutual love and compassion among everyone.
Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin., & Argyle, Michael. (1997). Chapter 6: Acquiring religious beliefs socialization and continuity. Routledge. 97. Web.
Religion and tradition: Inherited practice. (n.d). Vohuman.org. Web.
Stevens, Jr. Philips. (2002). Dealing with religious beliefs: Some suggestions from anthropology. Questia. Web.