The Mirage of Religion
Did the title of this post make you squirm in your seat or raise your eyebrows at the allusion of this irreverence ? Or did you simply reject the notion away, with a prejudice of an unenlightened being feeling the need to rant about the most controversial topic of our times ?
Some of the reactions to questioning a belief can be more drastic and lethal ! Yes, lethal. This could lead to religious groups questioning the faith I subscribe to – is it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Jainism, Sikhism or even Scientology to name a few. A specific answer to this question could lead to several offended people trying to thwart my identity and reputation for questioning their faith. On the flip side, I could also gain support from other belief systems, enticing me with the ‘better’ things their faith has to offer. The media can also sometimes play a large role in transforming a simple question into a large scale propaganda bringing in political and religious leaders debating and quarreling over one man’s opinion. Amid all of this unending drama, there is one question which we fail to ask – WHY? Are we so firm with our religious beliefs to neglect even the idea of having an open mind to hear another point of view?
But, before you judge me or brand me an outcast, I do not intend to offend any belief, religion, society or sect and have the utmost respect for all. I am a global citizen who does not subscribe to any single faith, yet believes and respects each and every religion for its intent and purity. My questioning is not on religion itself, but on the misinterpretations we hold on to so closely without questioning. It is not a debate on the existence of God, but a debate on our intellect. I do not claim to be an expert on religious history and philosophy, but feel the need to utilize the gift of the mind we possess.
Before science could understand and explain the reasons behind the smallest aspects of our existence, we relied heavily on written scriptures and stories. For example, the sun is treated as a God in various cultures, and the reason lies in its simplicity – in the absence of electricity, it was the sun that showed light and cast away the darkness from our lives. There are stories from the Nordic regions, where due to the lack of scientific understanding of a solar eclipse, tribes would yell foul words at the moon or the ‘wolf’ who ate the sun to bring back sunlight into their lives. This is the root cause for polytheism in some cultures, where any inexplicable routine that enhanced life in general was worshiped. In Sanskrit they are called as ‘ Yantra ’, which literally means a machine. Therefore, the sun was essentially considered a machine, thereby worshiped as another form of God.
There are thousands of stories and interpretations explaining the origin of every religion. From Jesus dying on the cross to Prophet Ibrahim sacrificing his son to Shiva beheading his son ! As amazing and profound these stories are, we seem to have overlooked the true meaning behind them. India – the birthplace of Yoga, has one of the most complex and diverse societies, where a large number of people of diverse beliefs co-exist. Yoga was not a one hour stretching marathon involving deep breaths and difficult poses on a colorful yoga mat as portrayed by the west today, but it was part of one’s individuality. The purpose was not to lose the last 5 pounds as they advertise, but to awaken the energy within.
If you thought about spirituality, then you are with me, and that is precisely the foundation of Yoga and essentially every religion. India was spiritual BEFORE religious. And again, spirituality does not simply associate with sacrificing the self and living the life of a hermit. Generalizing spirituality to a singular form of training for billions of people is a consequence of false interpretation.
Shiva is referred to as the lord of yogis before he is called the destroyer. What if Shiva was just a yogi, who was able to realize himself in the deepest forms of human nature through meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment ? Would it make more sense now to think of him as a lord of yogis ? According to the present day spiritual leaders, Shiva is limitless, he is that which is nothing, or the lord of ignorance. As per Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Shiva is only a form created by the human mind to explain the infinite nature of its potential. Does this make you think of Shiva as a state of mind or consciousness when you can experience your ultimate potential ? The core reason why followers of Islam practice Ramadan all over the globe, is to understand the nature of self control. Simply put, this is a sincere effort towards meditation in order to control our desires. The purpose of a month long fast is to have a self realization to understand our limitations while strengthening the mind. Lord Buddha was a king who sacrificed his possessions in search of a deeper purpose thereby attaining enlightenment, but worshiping him in the biggest temple in Borobudur is not the answer to our questions. It is only when we understand His principles through interrogation and evaluation, can we experience the true meaning of being enlightened.
Several cultures and traditions have been passed along for several thousand years orally. Would you agree that there is room for misinterpretation ? Be it Christianity or Buddhism or Islam, every religious text has a singular purpose – to act on principles that benefit the common good. The human mind identifies with good deeds and evil deeds, attracting deeds of kindness, generosity and love while condemning any acts of violence and hatred. Spirituality is found at the deepest core of every religion or faith with the sole purpose of seeking Godliness as opposed to God. The misinterpretations and lack of interrogation of our times has obscured our thinking away from Godliness, in turn leading to unwanted debates due to the superficial understanding of our beliefs. Hence we often hear the term ‘ blind faith ’ associated with religion.
The mirage of religion thrives on fear and portrays a distorted belief system, sometimes used for the benefit of personal, political and financial desires. It does not matter if we worship an idol, or believe in a supreme energy – the quest here is to identify ourselves from within and to project our beliefs in the form of good deeds, thereby attaining Godliness.
Open your mind and ask why.
Look Within, Aspire for Godliness and Look Beyond !
Mindfulness is Godliness