Thank you for the A2A.
This is an age-old question, to be sure, but I think it has a fairly straightforward answer. As a Perennialist mystic, I believe that the same spiritual experiences – specific kinds of encounters with our spiritual ground of being – was the initial spark of all religions, and continues in the mystical and contemplative branches of those religions into the modern day. So a Sufi, a contemplative Christian, a Mahayana Buddhist, an Advaita Vedanta Hindu, a Taoist and a Kabbalist can find common ground in both their ineffable experiences of unitive, nondual consciousness, and the compassionate insights, intentions and love-in-action that is inspired by those experiences. What differs is the cultural and institutional context through which those experiences and motivations are interpreted, codified and managed; that is what religion is, after all: a cultural institution. In other words, when you shed institutional and cultural distortions that have been carefully constructed around spiritual experiences over centuries – usually to facilitate power, authority, orthodoxy, hierarchy and systematic controls – you are left with a fundamentally shared spiritual experience. So it is (mainly) these cultures and institutions that are different, along with the unique ways in which a desire for personal privilege and power over others has manifested itself. Sadly, this often results in rigid rules that abandon a spiritually-based intention of compassionate affection in favor of judgmental dogmatism.
As to which religion is best for you – only you can determine this for yourself. Why not try some out? Talk to some practitioners and study the “scriptures” of each? Spend time with different religious communities and see what you think…? Why not immerse yourself in their spiritual practices for a time, and see how you feel about them? Perhaps measure how each experience impacts positive, compassion-based interactions and insights in your life? Personally, I would recommend one of the traditions I mentioned above, and avoid anything dogmatic, highly institutionalized, or culturally insular. But that’s just me – I prefer the esoteric to the exoteric.
I hope this was helpful.
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