Saturday, November 15, 2008
It’s slightly weird, but I think once I start writing I myself would be able to find some answers which I have not found. My views on organized religion and God have found very few takers till date, probably because I have not been able to articulate it well. Well, what then is religion and God to me? I am not a great enthusiast of organized religion although I do enjoy the pluses religion gives to me - some festivals to bond and enjoy with friends and relatives. On the other side, I have never really believed in the rules religion forces upon you without a chance to counter-argue.
Most parents teach children several religious customs as a matter of fact (something to be taken as sacrosanct and not to be argued or questioned about). This is what I believe turns some of us from forced believers…… to atheist (I would like to call them anti-believers). Most parents do not teach their children that they have a freedom, to choose the way they may practice religion – whether very religiously, casually or not at all.) The greater fact which one should be able to teach and imbibe is that there is something beyond this system which moves the world. That force or whatever one chooses to call it does not need to be worshipped or prayed to, given enormous amounts of food and offerings (while people nearby stand begging). I think it more important to acknowledge the force, know that it exists, kind of creates equilibrium, ensures that good and bad are balanced; things which seem bad will come to an end, good things happen to good people and so on.
I know that to make the concept of religion understood and seem vivid…….God is a creation …May I quote …if there was no God it would have been necessary to invent one. A lot of us view religion and God very differently (some pray as a matter of duty, some don’t, some don’t know what to do and merely follow others). I believe, in my own way that if I do not disturb this equilibrium and make things better in my own small way, I have done a small bit of service to God. Even if Mother Teresa had not been religious and not propagated religion and done this enormous service to poor and needy, has she not done a great service to god? What I am trying to say is, do good and gently pass off …is a much greater service and being true to one’s faith than chanting hymns.
To me Gandhi bringing untouchables into the social fold , mother Teresa extending that hand which no one else did, Nelson Mandela making a whole mass of people realize that they are no inferior to anyone else…… is religion. Religion to me in plain and simple terms should be good social work. Religion should only have one single motto—make the world a better place. You, I or that saint sitting on a hillock should be small facilitators of this.
When you inherit the earth take it upon you, to enrich it..….make it slightly better and pass on the baton to somebody else…this should be the only objective of religion. Okay , you may color it with a religious or social events but the message which should go out always and every time is “DO GOOD”. If this is something which enters the bloodstream of people I think the very purpose why God was invented is done.
Non-believers or anti-believers who are do-gooders are doing a much greater service according to me , than people who are zealots and chanting strange sound they hardly know. In most cases people who fight over religious issues are the ones who have hardly been religious themselves or have taken pains to study what different faiths claim to preach. We should reach a stage where people are broad minded enough not to identify themselves by their religion or their religious practices but can traverse that line and imbibe something good in others.
I have asked many people around me, what praying gives. I have got varied answers from improving concentration, peace of mind to calmness, to happiness. But then again is not a very individual experience, if it so varied?? No two people on the face of this earth will give you an identical answer to this question, I can bet on that. I have asked back if it gives calmness, it could be playing a guitar also then what difference praying give when in most cases the words are also unfamiliar……… No satisfactory argument yet….but yeah I do know that at times sitting calmly does give you peace, it helps you relax , calm down your thoughts makes you realize what you are. But then why are people so hypothetical to cloak it as a prayer?? A visit to a religious place does soothe you most of the time simply because people come there with much cleaner thoughts. The aura is much better. I think we need to be more open discussing religion, its merits and otherwise and be open to arguments.
There are great pluses of organized religion and definitely the easy way to calm oneself down and look inside, but there could be other ways which should not be looked down upon or not accepted. We should be sensible enough to accept people with very divergent views on religion into our fold and give him the same kind of respect and not sneer at. We should be able to argue about every aspect of religion, see where it needs a change …nothing is permanent….why should religion be????
We need people who can talk religion threadbare…..have an open mind…… not be burdened by what their grandmother has taught them and be able to choose how one wishes to follow religion and what importance one wants to give in one’s life?
Religion needs to give us that religious freedom!!