A need for religion!

Two children had lost their lives in two different accidents in school. One had been a year younger to my daughter and the other a little older. But apparently the sudden talk of two deaths in as many weeks was disturbing to my eight year old. She came home one night with fear written all over her face. After a lot of cuddling and loving, I realized that the idea of death was beginning to disturb her. General talk of faith and belief were having no impact on her fear-ridden mind. She very seriously asked me “ Ma! They say that Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the protector and Shiva the destroyer. If only Vishnu was a good protector how can Shiva ever destroy anyone?” Pure logic from a young mind – but how was I going to answer her?

My daughter has challenged me with many a question since the time she learnt to talk, trying to answer which I have developed a great deal of philosophical thinking! To an adult I might have immediately replied with the theory of Karma or perhaps its Buddhist counterpart of cause and effect. Scientifically I could have explained that while we have begun to master cloning, death still remains elusive to common human comprehension. Or maybe the simple logic of ‘how would the earth survive if every person born never died’ could have satisfied an indifferent adult. But to my daughter, it was really a question of faith.

Every moment of our life is a continuity of harmony only because we basically believe in the goodness of existence. While death walks with us in every facet of life, we don’t consciously carry the burden of that knowledge. Why? – Because to most of us death remains a burden. Yet the truth is that the opposite is equally true. With life comes death – hand in hand.

When the early man had discovered that matter and energy are not in conflict with each other he realized the unity of all existence and so was born the concept of GOD. Modern theories of the Big Bang reiterate this belief of a unified cosmic seed from which the universe including time emerged. But science has also revealed that while cloning can become a successful process for the survival of life forms, we can never make another YOU! Each individual remains unique and incapable of being duplicated. And this remains the divine paradox we are all trying to understand and accept – a singularity in birth with multiplicity in expression.

Some believe the creator and the creation to be the same – one indivisible whole. This they liken to the flame and the fire, for the flame is the fire and vice versa. Others believe the singularity to be GOD – a divine creator from whom creation has emerged but who remains outside or independent of the creation. To use a scientific concept God and his creation are like the earth and gravity. Gravity emerges from the earth and cannot exist independent of it. But the earth remains independent of gravity.

Over millions of years of evolution, the thinking animal – man began to conceptualize the idea of God in order to provide the necessary meaning for existence. Each society based on its geographical, cultural and societal needs developed a ‘religion’ or a path to understand the divine paradox. Religion means ‘to unite’ the individual consciousness to cosmic or universal consciousness. When intellectually humans have evolved to assimilate the idea of a singularity, it is a pity that society still harbors the need to disintegrate divine unity.

Someone once asked me, “If God is one why are there so many religions?” I answered “Actually we have very few religions and that is the whole problem. When each human being is unique and the only one of his kind, how can his path of uniting to the cosmic consciousness be similar to anybody else? The problem lies in the fact that human multiplicity is using laws codified by a few who realized universality.” If the true essence of the term religion were understood, no one can ever ‘follow’ a particular religion for each one’s religion grows with the individual. There is a saying ‘Growing old is mandatory, growing up is a choice’. What a pity that many of us never exercise our choice.

Every religion was born to inspire in man the need to search for the divine singularity. So were born the concepts of God as creator Brahma from whose brow emerged God as destroyer Shiva who on seeing the trials and tribulations of the creations wanted to destroy Brahma himself. If Shiva had annihilated Brahma, there would no longer be any further creations. Therefore was born God as protector Vishnu. They actually represent the existential laws of creation, preservation and annihilation. They are part of the same singularity. Yet they remain independent realities. With the birth of Brahma, the existence of Shiva was mandatory for the truth in every aspect is that the opposite is equally true. The concept of Vishnu as protector to help us experience an entity (that which is created before it is annihilated) also implies that the presence of the non-entity becomes mandatory. With the passing of time, religion lost sight of its goal to be an inspiration and instead became a source of powerful influence with dogmas, customs, rituals and politics. Modern spiritualists, understanding the existence of ‘non-being’ or ‘non-entity’ began propagating ‘slipping into silence’ procedures to escape Vishnu. Like every religious custom, the intoxication of ‘meditative processes’ sometimes merely becomes another form of ritual. True singularity cannot be taught for the simple reason that each individual identity has to evolve his / her own religious path to unite to that Godhead.

Today humanity prides itself as being the most advanced of living form. Yet we remain the worst kind of hypocrites. While older adults presumably follow religious customs out of ‘blind faith’ by performing incomprehensible rituals, young adults treat ritualistic processes as an exaggerated exercise in self-deception. As a result neither has religion given them spiritual purpose in life nor has it inspired them to truly inquire about existence. There is no charm in living in coma without the consciousness of ones own existence. If man understood the answer to the question ‘why live?’ we will never have had a suicide bomber or terrorist activity. Only when life has no meaning, no roots, does society become so warped in its own inanity.

When young adults no longer care to discuss or even acknowledge the concept of ‘God’, children are left unarmed of faith, devoid of belief to fend in a world they don’t understand. Today’s learned children will not believe in the concept of a God who remains outside of his creations passing judgments to punish or favor mankind. Today’s learned children will not blindly follow a ritualistic practice of recitation or incomprehensible customs. Today’s learned children will not accept a religion that does not give them the right to question it. Today’s learned children will never follow anybody’s authority. Yet today’s learned children like every child ever born needs to have a foundation of faith on which he or she can build a life of trust.

The divine paradox is that we are a part of the same cosmic seed yet retain a unique individuality that will never cease to be. Today’s learned children need a universal scientific religion that would help them understand and accept the presence of the divine singularity, yet also respect their right to be unique and different; a religion that will teach them the universality of all matter and energy, as well as the dignity of individual creativity; a science that would not merely be a technical knowledge of a few enlightened discoveries, but a replicable model of universal thought with particularized feelings; an experience that would enliven their lives with personal interactions and enrich their souls with collective consciousness. My daughter was waiting…

I mentally whipped myself… I had been about to expound on these philosophical concepts to an eight year old who was in dire need of rebuilding her faith in God.

“Meenakshi! Does the earth have a stand?” She blinked at me. Was I trying to joke when she was seriously pondering on philosophical matters? She knew my unorthodox methods pretty well. She decided to go along with me. “Of course not Ma! We have learnt all about the earth and our solar system in geography class this year.”

“Ah! So you know about the earth not having a stand to support it. But do you really feel the miracle of how such a big planet like the earth is standing all by itself in space with no stand, capable not only of rotating on its axis but also capable of revolving around the sun! Think of it like how I see it! I can’t keep a safety pin in the air without it falling…”

“That’s because of gravity…”

“Yeah! But I wonder how gravity came to be?”

“Well… God made it!”

Perhaps a modern spiritualist might have corrected the child to use the word ‘vibration’ or ‘energy’ or ‘existence’. But I was perfectly happy to bring in ‘God’. After all, faith has little to do with language.

“Hm…. And see the stars…”

“Ma! Even our Sun is just a big star!”

“There is perfect harmony everywhere in the universe right!” Ooops! I was going fast!

“What do you mean by harmony?”

“Lets see… Now have you ever heard of a lady giving birth to a pig? Or a cow giving birth to a human child? Have you ever seen a Christian with two hearts or a Muslim with four hands or a Hindu with three brains? That is harmony! God is not partial to anybody. Everything happens for a purpose. If only we appreciated the miracle of existence, we would never need the magic of a Harry Potter! Now tell me, is it such a big task for God who has made the universe, the galaxies, the planets, animals, humans and everything in it, to look after a little girl called Meenakshi? Why are you burdening your little heart with the responsibility of eternal life! Give it to Him. He, who created you, gave you a mother and a father, gave you oxygen to breath and food to digest, knows how to protect you. Don’t take His job into your little head. God is always with you.”

“But Ma! How do I know He is with me? How can I talk to Him? Will He listen?”

Among my daughter’s playthings was a Krishna idol that she would bathe, dress and play with. He was her little brother and she loved listening to little Krishna’s pranks. I placed that doll in her hand and told her “Here is Krishna who listens to all that you say. He is your best friend and will never judge you. Yet He is indeed the Lord of the universe – have you read about Krishna showing the three worlds in his mouth to Yashoda? I don’t say you should recite or chant mantras or do rituals. Just talk to him and He will listen.”

My daughter was soothed. She placed her head on my shoulder in complete surrender. I could feel her accepting Krishna’s presence.

“Isn’t that a dream world into which you are encouraging her? You are making her believe in a religious ideal – one determined by society. Is that right? You are encouraging her to transfer her responsibility onto an unknowable imaginary entity called God! She will become a weakling! In today’s scientific world you are creating an illusion of external intelligence!” – this was one side of the argument.

“Krishna is not a doll to be played with! He needs to be worshipped with flowers and sloka rendition. Have you taught her Vishnu Sahasranamam?”

“Teach her to do proper meditation. All forms are illusions. Existence is merely an energy that can be regulated to suit our needs. Pranayama will help her get attuned to the cosmic energy.”

None of them are wrong. But none of them entirely right either. Scientific discrimination, recitation, meditation, puja, pranayama are all paths that can be used to attain the same end. But choosing any mode of transportation is only when one has decided to travel! Faith is that catalyst that transforms immobility into a vehicle for transportation. Faith doesn’t bloom from logic, cannot be cultivated and refuses to bow down to authority. Faith is just that consciousness of divine existence. Once faith is established, as I mentioned earlier, every individual needs to travel down his own path of religion. The role I had to play was merely to re-establish her faith in the singularity called GOD and reiterate the right to her individuality to be MEENAKSHI.

Written by Gita Krishna Raj  |  Published in infinithoughts in December 2005

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