Showing posts with label Spirituality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spirituality. Show all posts

Losing My Religion

People often ask me whether I am religious. I can never give a straightforward response to that. Yes, I believe in the existence of a supreme intelligence, who I look up to for guidance and succour. When things are going good I thank Him (or ‘Her’, as it suits), when things are going downhill, I bombard Him with why me? He is my constant companion in fear, hope, in happiness and in moments of despair. But what do people mean when they ask, whether I am religious? Do they mean to ask “do you pray and engage in religious rituals”? I pray only under duress, rarely visit temples, do not believe in rituals, and I never fast, unlike most of my friends. Yet I think of this higher being as my protector, benefactor and expect ‘His’ unconditional love. That’s unrealistic isn’t it, considering I hardly work towards this relationship!

But tell me one thing, why do we pray? Is it because it makes us feel good or is it because we are expected to? We meditate to feel closer to ‘Him’, to find inner peace – and rituals are supposed to be a means to that end. But if we are getting stuck with rituals as the end, is it making us any better? We are living in a fast-paced world and many of us lose sight of the intent behind these rituals. It is now more like a duty that has to be performed, rather than being a construct within which we can seek enlightenment.

I know am treading a tricky path – most of us take our religion rather seriously. When we observe Monday fasts, or a Friday fast it is never sans expectations. For many of us religion works as a barter system. Dear God, if you make my son pass this exam, I promise to fast for 12 consecutive Mondays or I will not touch a morsel of food till the moon comes out, for the long life for my husband. One dares not deviate, even if it’s food that one thinks of the whole day, in fear of retribution. We dare not question our age-old traditions because we have fear lurking at the back of our minds. Why are we God- fearing when we should be God-loving.

Once, when I was much younger, I decided to fast on a religious occasion. I was miserable, hungry and salivating even at the sight of karelas. God was the last thing on my mind. So, now you know why I don’t fast anymore.

I do not consider myself an authority on religion – but for me, being religious means respecting other human beings and being kind to others. I try not to be judgemental and am allergic to being sermonized. For me, happiness is my religion. Only if I am happy can I make others around me happy. Only if I believe in love, will I be able to love others.

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