This semester at college I had to take a Religions of the East course, and in the past 15 weeks, I have learned about Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and my favorite of them all, Buddhism. Buddhism may be the most beautiful religion in the world, and I think if everyone was a Buddhist, the world would be a lot better of a place.

Buddhism teaches that non-violence and leading a life of moderation and avoiding attachments will lead to enlightenment. It focuses on compassion and doing no harm to living creatures – this includes insects and animals.

Buddhist believe that human beings are responsible for their own lives and that each of their actions will have a positive or negative reaction. They believe in karma – do good things and good things will happen to you; do bad things and bad things will happen to you. Buddhist believe that humans are responsible for their own fate and believe the future is in their own hands.

Similar to many religions, Buddhists are to refrain from “physical non-virtues” like killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct, and from “verbal non-virtues” like lying, divisive talk, harsh speech, and senseless chatter. They also refrain from “mental non-virtues” like covetousness, harmful intent, and wrong views.

Buddhist are also taught to avoid hoarding money and that if they have more than they need to live, they should help their neighbors. They believe that all humans are equal and that no matter where another human is from, we should strive to help them as much as possible.

In essence, Buddhism is all about just being a good person and helping others; it’s about compassion and has made me want to be a more compassionate human.

I think the piece that attracted me to Buddhism the most, however, is that they are fine with living in harmony with other religions and they believe other religions have just as much value and are just as true as their own – meaning that they avoid pushing their own beliefs on others in order to convert them.

Because I became so enthralled with the teachings of Buddhism, I decided to study it further in my spare time. This lead me to read several books by the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk. The Dalai Lama wrote in several books that he is not concerned with gaining new followers. Instead, he is more concerned with helping people as much as he can.

In all religion, the concentration should be less on converting people through a message and more about helping others with action. The Dalai Lama once said, “To those who believe in God or in a creator, I ask them to put more emphasis on the equality of all human beings. Forget about other galaxies and concentrate on this globe, this planet. If one creator created all earthly beings, discrimination has no place. There can be no differences on the basis of color, social background, or particularly in this country, or caste.”

To me, this quote really reflects what we are currently seeing going on in our own country. Many are fleeing their country and trying to find safety in America. Rather than help them, many Americans spew hatred because these people are from somewhere else.

We are all human. We all live on earth. We should strive to help each other.

I find it comforting that there is a religion that encourages people to do that. I see many who say they are of one religion or another but hardly follow the teachings of that religion. At their core, all religions teach compassion, yet many who follow one religion or another are the same people I see having less compassion than those who follow no religion.

This holiday season, it may be wise to realize how easy many of us have it and we should consider being more compassionate to those who are fleeing corrupt governments. We should feel lucky that we never have to experience what those people are experiencing, and most of all, we should be more compassionate towards others.