Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beyond Religion, Into Humanity - Part 1

These are my views. If you are not comfortable even considering the possibility of a truth beyond religion, this note might not be for you.

Let me begin with what religion is. It is a philosophy, usually of a saint or a philosopher, and is typically founded on the basis of moral living. Technically, most religions preach the same, and are built on the same foundation. They do, however, differ when it comes to matters such as the existence of a deity, ways of worship etc.

People in the world today accept religion for the way it is, without understanding the reason behind practices. In other words, religion today has become more of a formality, and in some countries an entry into application forms - for education, for work, etc. - and become the basis for religion / caste based reservations / benefits. People do not understand the need for any particular practice, the reason why a particular sequence of steps are followed in anything we do, and reasons why rituals are performed.

Religious leaders today do not encourage questioning the beliefs. But, if we do not understand the faith and its core beliefs, how would we appreciate the true value associated with the religious practice? Everything done as part of a religious practice has meaning. The meaning usually is about understanding how what we do impacts nature, and is also about thanking nature for letting us be the way we are. Most religions, thus, find truth in connecting with nature. Because that's where we are from.

When we fail to question and understand reasons behind steps in a religious ceremony, we fail to value why it is done. Let me give you an example. There was once a Hindu priest, performing a ritual on the first yearly death anniversary of his father. He had a pet cat, and it was moving around the house making noise and causing some of the ritual articles to fall from their places. The priest instructed his wife to tie the cat to a pole that was very close to the place he was performing the ritual. The rest of the ceremony went on peacefully. There was another person who came to the priest's house a little while after this incident. He saw the cat being tied to a pole, and since it was a religious ritual, he kept his questions to himself. A while later, it was this person's turn to do a similar ritual. He planned for the ritual and finally, before the ceremony, instructed his family to get a cat and tie it to a pole. He performed the ceremony, and a few other people who had come to his house went on to do the same when they performed the ceremony. Do you get what I'm trying to say? If we don't understand the real reason behind something that was done, we will blindly follow it even if it was really not necessary.

This is important whether we are talking about religious practices, or about education, or about any other thing in life. We must learn to ask questions. By asking questions, we learn and understand more. By understanding, we can lead a truly informed life. This is important.

After taking this step, we begin to understand that despite differences in the way we do things, the core principles in any religion are about valuing other humans and valuing nature.

I was born into a Hindu family. That doesn't make me any different from any other person belonging to any other religion. Why? Because we are born humans first. I appreciate that there are so many religious beliefs for a reason. But, I believe that blindly following what is said is not what was expected of us. This was not the way any philosopher wanted us to live. They wanted us to question, and understand what they said. This is what will help us appreciate any of their teaching.

Most priests today find it very offensive if we ask questions. So do many of the elders. But it really comes down to understanding matters.

Let me tell you the reason why I wrote about this today. It is because if we are all born humans first, why do we fight in the name of religion? Why do we fight in the name of God, if most people believe that there is one? Why do we even think about religion (typically indicated by the name) before looking at another person as a human being? If we live by what others say, and advice, without questioning and deliberating about what was said, we are insulting our own brains and abilities.

We are filling the world with hatred, because our thoughts are primitive. Even though we have grown intellectually, and have acquired many materialistic articles, our spiritual mind has remained primitive, and is getting increasingly animalistic.

The birth of a child, irrespective of religion, is the same. We are all born naked. We are all born without any religious tags anywhere. The death of a person, irrespective of religion, is the same (I'm talking about death the process of loss of life and not how a person dies). The blood that runs in our bodies is similar (even though there are different blood types, the functionality and the composition are the same). The various organs we have do the same activity in all of us. How different are we?

So, now you tell me - were you born a human, or as a religion's element? Many questions are left unanswered in this note, something perhaps for part 2.

Everything is food for thought.

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