What does religion mean ?
The oxford dictionary says that ‘religion’ is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power especially a personal God or gods.
What is the purpose of religion?
From time immemorial, I think the purpose of religion has been to unite people. I am not sure if that purpose is being served anymore. I think we are now a fairly evolved species and the idea that can truly unite us is humanity.
How does it matter, if I am a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or if i belong to any of the numerous religions coined in this world? What does it have to do with who I am as a person?
Do we need to be shackled by the cultures propagated by a certain religion or should we be free to choose cultures that empower us, worship a higher power rather than a specific form of God, embrace traditions that embody our value systems.
A. Parthasarathy in his book “Vedanta Treatise” said:
The world is in a state of spiritual decadence. The custodians of religion have largely contributed to it. They have stifled the human intellect. Crammed the mind with irrational religious beliefs and virtually denied spiritual education.
Think about what religion has done for you; thus far
Is the happiness quotient in your life enhanced due to your religion or would it drastically reduce if you embraced another religion? Are you more successful in your professional pursuits because of your religion ? Do you think your marriage would last longer if you said “I do” vs “Qubool hai”.
What has actually happened, is that religion has most likely boxed you into a scripted structure of cultures and traditions instead of giving you wings to fly.
What are the beliefs that I have embraced?
With the passing years, I realised that i do not feel an affinity towards any religion in specific and somehow without even being fully aware of it, i have organically embraced different cultures and traditions and fine tuned them in a manner that serves and satiates me and gives meaning to my life.
The fine tuning was imperative because i dislike feeling strangulated by umpteen constraints that have been swaddled around these beautiful cultures which tend to evaporate the joy and sheer positivity that surrounds these, and instead overshadows the bliss of it all with obsolete traditions that have been inherited from generations, who themselves don’t know why they were started in the first place.
Some wise man once said, “tradition is just peer pressure from dead people”.
I have mentioned the traditions that leave me in bewilderment, in my earlier blog:
Do not take me wrong, I am not against traditions and cultures. I only am a firm believer that we need to truly reflect on these for ourselves and take them along as needed. Getting intertwined in the dogma of ancient cultures or beliefs without knowing why and where it emanated, seems ludicrous to me.
And I believe in the Higher Power that engulfs this world and each one of us. But i do not agree with conforming myself to some specific forms of God and caging myself within a certain form of beliefs.
If i was just to take a limited example of festivals belonging to different religions and cultures:
We celebrate Christmas and I have also inculcated the essence of Thanksgiving in my children. I think it is important for kids to understand gratitude and if there is a day dedicated to it, then why not direct all our energies on a given day to “gratitude”.
I also celebrate Rakshabandhan (a Hindu festival where traditionally a sister ties a band/thread to her brother in exchange of which, the brother makes a promise to protect her) in our home. I have 2 daughters, that doesn’t mean that they cannot commit to protect each other just because I didn’t pop the gender required by society to make that promise. My daughters tie a Rakhi to each other with a resolve to protect and stand by each other.
There is a day called “kshamavani parv” or “khamma ghani” that is celebrated by a certain sect of Indians (Jains). It essentially means “forgiveness day”. It’s basically seeking forgiveness of all living beings and endeavouring enmity towards none. Though i am already an avid believer in the magic of forgiveness on a spiritual and scientific level, I intend to fold that into my coming year too.
Festivals are meant to exude joy and positivity in our lives. They are opportunities to step away from the chaotic days that we call life and truly live, laugh and spread love. Why should I be restricted in celebrating joy !
What do YOU and I actually need – what the world needs most ?
Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have the freedom to embrace all cultures and traditions in a manner that serves a higher purpose and also stands for your own values.
To be multi cultural, with one universal truth – HUMANITY; with one superpower – THE UNIVERSE
If being multi lingual is applauded as a qualification that can take you places and why can’t being multi cultural be a norm that is encouraged ! Why do i need to pray to one form of god or the varied forms propagated by one religion. Why can’t i believe in the power of the universe, a higher power that works wonders if YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
Religion of humanism
If we truly need to follow any religion, it is that of humanism.
Something that propagates humanity as a whole;
Something that inculcates a spirit of positivity and kindness;
Something that boosts our ability to forgive;
Something that helps us see past the evil and internalise the good around us;
Something that reverberates a sense of deep gratitude towards this gift of life.
That my friends, marks the true path to spiritual enlightenment. An enlightenment that is well within the reach of each one of us, only if we endeavour to delve deeper into ourselves.
All of us a deep rooted humanity in us that can only come to the fore if we tread the path of spiritual enlightenment. And no !, you don’t need to become the next saint on this planet. Just instilling these perspective shifts (above) in your lives is that road to humanism and spirituality. This is the most verified and validated way forward to be at peace with yourself and content with the world around. It is the sure shot way to view the world with rose tinted glasses that never come off.
In the grim world that surrounds us today with deflated spirits and aching hearts, this is possibly the only way to wade this hurricane of misery.
Interestingly, I am currently reading a book called “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsh and I came across this extract that felt so relevant and completely resonated with my intention and thoughts on the subject:
God: Who said so ?
God: What others ?
Man: Leaders, ministers, rabbis, priests, books, the Bible
God: Those are not authoritative sources
Man: They aren’t?
Man: Then what is?
God: Listen to your feelings. Listen to your highest thoughts. Listen to your experience. Whenever any one of these differ from what you been told by your teachers or read in your books forget the words, words are the least reliable purveyor of truth