Ignorance is Bliss: Humble beginnings.
When i was 12, I used to perform the numerous religious rituals that constitued the average ordinary muslim. I simply adore that kind of undoubted belief, even though it can take a dangerous turn if it grows beyond a certain measure. So, as most muslims do, I prayed in Arabic, read the Qur'an in Arabic and did many things which i didnot understand, with joy! Yes, it was a joyful thing to do. Because, hey, i am doing this for my afterlife and yes, God loves me! It also was joyful , because the hardships endured directly translated to my seating position in heaven. (The more good you do, the better place you have in heaven). I was also able to take a break from the routine studies , play and so forth and be at peace with myself. I must say , that the atmosphere in the Fatima Mosque, Karama Street, Abu Dhabi was a wonderfully peaceful one. It is only when we pray , that we remember forgotten things-to-do, or forgotten people-to-call , in general things which you forgot to do. Why ? because you have nothing else to do, and one part of your brain is trying to focus your attention to something which you can read, but cant understand .. whereas the other part is doing a clean-up activity , i mean ... did i forget any of my duties in real-life ?
Religion as a Teacher: Religion as a step in evolution.
One of the best things about Religion is that, It is the easiest and simplest way to teach a growing child to be good. For example, if you dont tell (or sometimes even if you tell) a kid , not to put his/her hand in a candle flame, chances are that the kid would want to have a first hand experience of getting his/her hand burnt. And when that happens, he/she cries and then realizes.. aah this person has more experience than me. Religion is a way devised by human beings to pass on the knowledge of good-things-to-do. Most religions have the same core concept -- Live in harmony with nature. This means we respect every other being.
Religion puts forward an easy of teaching this. "If you dont be good to your friends, god will punish you in after-life". I like the simplicity of that. It is straight and to the point. It makes sense. It also instills fear-about-unknown into the mind of the child. He/she is educated that there is an all-knowing , all-powerful God who is constantly watching his actions, based on which he will be later judged upon , whether be it a seat in heaven or a rebirth as a crow or Nirvana.
What is goodness ? Anything which helps the positive evolution of nature. If you try to destroy yourself or others, you are doing bad. This can lead to a lot of debateful questions like "If a boy was brought up in the slums of Kochi and taught to murder people , to quench his thirst or to get food, does he do wrong ?" What exactly is right and wrong ? This can be discussed in an entirely different essay , however for the time being ... Its obviously wrong and the boy will realize it sooner or later. Why ? Because it does not fit into positive evolution. It does not fit into protecting the Weak.*
Protecting the Weak: Another step in Evolution.
We have come a long way from the animalistic way of "Survival of the fittest". We foster and nurture the weak. Because we think, everyone is special. We have built rules , governments and many such things which guard the weak. Even though, we strive for perfection, we do take care of the lesser being, we do try to exist peacefully with nature. If it was a world where only the strongest , fastest and most intelligent survived , we probably wouldnt have needed all these rules which say "Be good to your fellow being, be good to nature, Respect everyone". Why do we need to protect the weak ? Who knows, we all are part of a greater whole ! and maybe its our purpose! *
Good things about Religion:
So back to where i started. Religion is good in many ways, it serves as a good stepping stone, atleast as of today. I recently read an article (Courtesy: Ram) in rediff, by Kamala Das which says that most of the religions we have today are outdated. They create more harm than harmony. Before, I explore the bad side of religions, I would like to add a few more points to the good side.
People who have had a religious upbringing seems to have the blinding power of confidence. Even though its based on blind faith, confidence does a lot of good things. It helps us to build things on layer after layer of abstraction. Think about it, we deal with electricity everyday, do we really understand electricity or electrons, for that matter ? What is it ? a blob of negative charge ? a probability cloud ? Its there, but you cant see it ? Or its there but you cant measure its position and momentum ? It behaves depending on who is looking at it ?! If we happily ignore on certain basic things about it .. we can tap into its usefulness. We can light bulbs, run motors and what not! We write equations on it, determine how it moves around and there .. we are the master of it! Wrong, we understand some patterns exhibited by it, and so are able to make use of it.
The fundamentals of religion are no different. You accept or have blind faith in God, good , bad , reward , punishment and so on, and certain things are guaranteed. A religious person in trouble will be more capable of dealing with it, than a confused guy like me , because he believes its a test from God, and yeah, he believes he has done all his duties, in the way of God. Now , that is powerful! that is absolute confidence.. you can use it to be happy in any situation , whatsoever. You can use it and be really not too much bothered about worldly success and survive with the bare minimum, because this world is a transitional period. When i get to the "Bad things about Religion", i will write about "Overconfidence".
It also is the easiest way to explain things that happen around us. Bad people will be punished. Good people will be rewarded. Very very useful thing in law-and-order. The mindi is a powerful thing. If you believe in something, it does affect your life in a huge way.
Bad things about today's Religion:
Religion , as of today, translates into a set of rituals designed a couple of hundred years ago. And the sad thing is that , it is not evolving , but rather getting into "hard and fast" mandatory rules for everyone. Is this part of Positive communication evolution ? ** Lets find out...
Prayers are powerful. I have even heard doctors say that Languages like Sanskrit, Arabic and Aramaic are excellent for prayers, because they are tough languages, and they demand your complete attention. Thats the whole point of prayers. Focussing your attention on one thing . Look into any religious text and they are written in a sort of Generic way. I mean, most of it. It can be interpreted in many ways, might mean different things and the language is sort of slippery ? Why ? Because, if this has to have value, people should spend time , effort and their brains trying to figure out "What does this really mean ?". Which is why it has survived centuries. To get respect from people , give them a copy of "A brief history of Time". Regardless of whether it is understood or not, most people think its a great book. Similarly, apart from the core concepts of "goodness and harmony with nature" which is common across religious texts, the rest is sort of vague.
Religion: The bridge between the Perfect being and Human Being.
We must agree that we are all one at some microscopic level, yeah.. read that chemistry text ... Everything , chemicals , Molecules , atoms, electrons , neutrons , and then.. is it thoughts or vibrating strands of energy called strings.. so E=MC squared.. The game of matter and energy. Though we are all fundamentally one , we are all different at a macroscopic level, and have* our own identities. So, we are everyone and we are no one, We are also ourselves. Ha ha .
The concept of God as a perfect being and us human beings as , "on the path to perfection", puts forward lot of problems in terms of communication. Either God has to step down to communicate to us, or we evolve into God. If god did step down, that can explain all the stupid trial and error , mentioned in the religious texts. This is with respect to Christianity and Islam. Why did god need trial and error to find out a perfect message (Religious Book) for Human Beings ? He sends one prophet, bang .. he is slaughtered, his message is corrupt .. he send another one to a different place.. oops, he got rejected too.. and finally after years of perseverance, there comes the final word , and God himself vows to protect it. Thats a scary thought.. Does God need Trial and Error to find out a perfect way of communicating to his creation ? An interesting mind-boggler is ... we created computers, we are still finding out a way to communicate what we want exactly from it .. and yes , the computer is evolving into the intelligence we have. Except ofcourse, we never actually created the computer in the first place. We just re-arranged certain things by understanding the pattern of how it works.
Confidence and Overconfidence:
Earlier, i mentioned that Religion gives confidence. It also gives over confidence at times. For e.g, if someone believes in a religion and a religious text blindly. What if , down the line, the text says something like "Everyone who doesnt do what you do, is going to hell". Now, that gives you overconfidence, either to try and mandate your rules (the rules in the book) or stop talking to anyone who doesnt believe your book. This is extremely dangerous. And this is where the fine line is .
The Fine Line: Consciousness and Faith.
There is an extremely thin line between these. Most things in religion (miracles) are unbelievable unless you accept certain premises. (God , Prophet, Books, Life After Death). Once you accept these things , you get a tunnel vision. You become immensely happy to have discovered the ultimate way of life. The danger of this tunnel vision is that we lose our capability to have an open mind to other's view points.
Qur'an: Chapter 2.
Verse 1: Alif, Lam, Meem.
Verse 2: This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.
Check Verse 1. What is it ? Its just 3 Alphabets from Arabic. Alef(A), Laam(L), Meem(M). And the second verse is that this is a book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah. If there is no doubt about this book, what exactly is Alif-laam-Meem? Scholars say It is the mystery of Qur'an.
This explains the whole idea about Religion. If you choose to accept it as the word of God. Alif-Laam-Meem is a miracle. It is a gateway to belief. Once you accept it, the rest is easy. However if you are reading this with a questioning mind, "Alif-laam-Meem" is the dragon breathing fire at the gates, if you have no belief , then dont proceed!.
If everyone understands this, life would be a lot easier. Dear fellow believers , muslims , christians, hindus, jews, and whoever believes in religion... Donot for gods sake , hurt another human being, or force him to do your rituals , just because your learned religious leaders think that its the only way to salvation!. This is a basic thing, i am not going into the details of which idea is good , which idea is bad.
Evolving into One:
The idea of preaching one kind of religion, one kind of god, one book and so forth is considered by some as in line with the idea of "we are evolving into God". We will have one language, one communication, one way of praying. I dont know if thats and extreme "ONENESS", nevertheless it sounds scary too. Because , as i said, we are all one and we are all different. It depends on the plane/ level which you are comparing. The above mentioned preaching ONLY one religion means that there will lot of bloodshed in the near future , as one religion tries to gain supremacy over the other.
Let us not force our ideas on others. Let us choose what suits us best and what falls into the basic criteria of a better humanity , better nature. Let us stop wasting time and energy on fighting and spreading our religion. Let us spend this instead on the betterment of mankind. Let us respect each other! Let us understand that God cannot stoop down to the level of human emotions like Anger , vengeance and reward. Let us do best , with what we have!
I am sure that everything good in all of today's religions, will shape the religion of tommorow. For a better understanding , for a better life!
*Highly recommended : "God's Debris" by Scott Adams.
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