Further Experiments on Religion

Taking on from my previous post of today, here is an outline of what I did further in the area of religious experimentation.

It took me nearly 8 years (after my last experiment on Christianity) before I started looking at another religion. I did not do much with Hinduism in the interim. I continued my nonchalant orientation towards my own religion.

Before I progress further, I have to state that there have been personal challenges with respect to my stance. My close relatives (not my immediate family) oftentimes suggest the greatness of another human being who has now been immortalized as God. For example, I have often heard about the wonderful exploits of believers who have the blessing of Sai Baba. There are many other such “gurus” for humankind, as most humans are unable to achieve oneness with God and so need specific help from a human being who has already achieved the same, such as Sai Baba.

Humans, it is assumed, are generally clueless when it comes to dealing with their innate faith and beliefs, and are prone to misconceptions easily. When one is hungry, he wants food. Similarly, when one is spiritually deprived, he seeks solace in religion and God, and if he cannot “see” the same, then he accomplishes peace in the hands of a human guru, who is more approachable and understandable.

I do not buy that approach. I know of very few educated folks in my circle who sync with me on this area of contention. Actually there should be no contention. No human can achieve the status of God. But, in all religions, there are multiple examples of humans who are glorified as “living” Gods first and then anointed as God when they have departed this earth.

However, I decided it is no disrespect from me towards anyone. If one of my extended family members is deeply religious and believes in Sai Baba, so be it. But if they push the idea to me, I cannot accept, and I have to desist from any attention towards such discussions. I don’t wish to sound disrespectful and I don’t wish to harm the feelings of anyone around me. So, I avoid getting into any such discussions unless I am pushed into a corner.

Now, let us come to the next experiment.

I have been, of late, visiting several Buddhist monasteries and pagodas in Vietnam and Thailand. I was influenced to some extent, and so I visited the history of Gautam Buddha. India gifted Buddhism to South East Asia, though Buddhism is not prevalent in India itself. I saw meaning in his life. At the end of the day, we all seek meaning in our own life. Recognizing that Buddha is a peaceful influence on human kind was the first step. Of course, one can argue that he was a human being after all. But here I am more focused on the Buddhist philosophy and way of life.

I was also influenced to a large extent by my visit to Dharamsala, the abode of the Dalai Lama. Buddhists are capable of considerable restraint under difficult situations and environment, such as exists in Tibet. They focus on material sacrifice, which impressed me.

Many folks will argue that all the positives of Buddhism are found in most other religions, I agree. However, the way Buddhism has institutionalized the pacifist way of living in a harm-free society, sacrificing oneself for others’ well-being on a continuous basis, not asking anything for themselves, not waging wars, not ostracizing other religions, and many more such positives have influenced me indelibly.

I am not becoming an immediate follower of Buddhism, but my mind is now focused on Buddhism when it comes to religious thoughts (which is not often !).

Examining what are the benefits of other religions as one explores the meaning of life, is facilitated by one’s own religion. In my case, Hinduism provides the base for such exploration without repercussions. And, in itself, is the goodness of Hinduism.

I continue my exploration.

Have a good weekend,

Vijay Srinivasan
23rd August 2014


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