Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And A Word To Pankaj Kumar

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Nitpicking today’s Inner Voice in the Hindustan Times.

When we begin to love God and follow the essential teachings of our religion, we fulfill the purpose for which we came to this planet.

What purpose? Why is it my purpose?

If we follow the core teachings and fulfill our duties, we need not have many worries, for God will take care of the rest.

Aren’t thousands of people doing God’s Work everyday when they get blown to bits by bombs, or get crushed during earthquakes, or get swept away by tsunamis or killed by grave diseases?

Faith and love of God or bhakti go together. Faith is not blind faith.

Faith, among other things, is believing in something you can’t see. That, to me, is very blind. Also, we put too much premium on ‘Enlightened Persons’ for humanity’s own good.

The human faculty of reasoning cannot provide answers to all the questions that life presents us. We have to rely on faith and intuition in such cases.

Exactly. For once, I agree. The question of Life, The Universe and Everything Else is too complicated for the human mind to fathom. But if you use God as the explanation, just how do you explain God?

For cultivating bhakti, we should try to keep our minds free from lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride.

Lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride go hand-in-hand with humanity. Show me a man free of these, and I will show you the elves in my sock drawer.

Reading spiritual books, prayer and japa help us to cultivate bhakti. We may not know the languages in which our scriptures were written or we may find that the modern translations are inaccurate.

This is why I choose not to read them.

Prayer is our effort to commune with the divine.

But if I pray to the elves living in my sock drawer, I’d be called a loon. Why? Because elves don’t exist?

We can tell our hopes and fears to God like a child and ask for guidance and support.

I’d rather consult the elves in my sock drawer. Oh wait. It’s the same thing. There’s an old joke which goes thus: when you talk to God, it is prayer; when God talks back, it is schizophrenia.

However, Buddhism suggests that we rely more on our own efforts and less on prayer. Christianity says that the 10 commandments can be summed up in one sentence: Love God and love your neighbour. Just so, the Hindu concept of bhakti or love of God encompasses the love of his creation.

Sometimes, I have nothing but contempt for creation - or whatever you might want to call it. To quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide, “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

All religions exhort us to have a friendly attitude towards our fellow humans. Hence, violence and murder are considered grievous sins.

So they are. Still, too many people kill in the name of religion. Why?

What about the possibility of a stage in our lives when we turn atheist? For atheists, the Dalai Lama said: “It does not matter whether you have religious faith or not. All that is required is that you should be a warm-hearted person.

It does not matter if you have faith. It doesn’t matter if you don’t. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter. Nothing does.