What is Religion?
Nothing in this world is static. Everything is changing, every moment. So are we. I am not the same person as I was ten years ago or ten days ago or yesterday. Like seasons or fashions things change while resembling similar but never exactly remain same. Similarly our language is also changing. Within the same language the meaning of the words change. What was the meaning of ‘sexy’ in 1912, is not the same meaning in 2012. What was the meaning of ‘stink’ in 1812, is not the same as in 2012.
Similarly the meaning of the words like religion & Karma etc. have also undergone a change.
Religion, Organized Religion, spirituality, Superconsciousness, Karma and myths!
What is Religion?
Religion is something more than mere scruples or ethics. There is one core principle of ethics: ‘Do no such thing to others as we do not want others to do to us.’ All known scruples, morals and ethics are derivatives of this principle. Ethics governs our dealings with others. But religion is something more than that. It governs how we live, think, act or even die.
Religion has three more components: Self conduct, Rituals & Belief, with, without or on vague reasons.Self conduct is how we conduct our day-to-day life. What to eat or drink or what not to eat or drink. What to wear, the permitted or prohibited colour or to carry or to wear some mandatory symbol. Grow facial hairs or part of it or shave off. Tonsure the scalp or wear something on the head. To change anything or anywhere on the body.
Rituals are about performance of certain action. It could be prayer before an image or statue or just meditation. Actions to be performed at Birth, Marriage, Death and many routine events in life. Actions to be performed on certain days of week or as per Calender or events (e.g. Full Moon or Eclipse etc.) Many festivals are also part of religion if arise from a historical moment in the shaping of religion.
Belief: The fact that the actions or rituals would bring some change in the events after death is a pure belief without reason, as it can never be tested. Similarly the belief that performance of certain actions or rituals will help or eliminate certain problems like illness or poverty or relationships falls under vague reasons.
The most interesting is the Belief with reason. Because the reasoning, to be believable has to be based on tangible facts or logic. As regard logic, it is not always realistic. Had it been so, Time Travel would have been a reality and right now, I might as well be at my Grand Father’s Farm House for vacations. Now the theory of Karma falls in this category. Every one has his own interpretation or logic how it works. Of course when it was propounded, it had a different meaning, which stands lost with passage of time. With introduction of good karma and bad karma, slowly and steadily it may reach the vague ideology of Christian Church about doing good or bad. Dealing God or Devil and reaching Heaven or Hell. They are still updating the concept of Holy Spirit.
All such believes, though apparently reasonable and logical are actually as good as non-existent.
Actions govern our life but it is the motive which matters. But what is motive. Do we know our motives for our actions? Most of the time, things just happen. When Karma was explained, originally, human mind was very simple. It’s movement were within narrow confines. Very few wanted to be famous in whole world or the richest person in the world. Human mind has, since then, become very complex. Meaning has changed. The original definition may not work any more and giving any new definition is more dangerous. But it is something akin to ripple effect. Manipulation attempted by doing good karma may not enough. Exact scope of Karma: We have to find it out ourselves.
BTW the original text of Bhagwat Gita, where this word was first coined, uses three terms: ‘Karma’, ‘Vikarma’ and ‘Akarma’; stressing that last which involves no Karma hence Akarma, is the best conduct.
All of us are religious?
In the manner of above three identifiers, an atheist or even Agnostics will fall in the category of being religious. As they definitely have rituals, may be to drink beer on Friday and Whiskey on Saturday. As regards belief, the absolute denial of all existing believes, is no less than a belief itself. Many of the rituals are inherited by children from parents with or without belief. That also makes every person religious may be and individual version of an orthodox version. Majority of us fall in this category, practising our version of Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or Muslim or whatever. It happens to be just like Linux Distro. Every one has one of his own.
What is Spirituality?
Spirituality was a term first used to differentiate from Religion. A spiritual person may or may not believe in God but believes that human existence (or other creatures as well) is something beyond this body. They may not have Dogmas associated with Religion but most have their own belief and practice. Many forms of spiritualism have become Religions.
This is the latest product in the market. Certain Masters like Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti stressed that human beings are not acting with complete consciousness as they must do. While Gurdjieff was of the view that certain practices can help to ‘wake up’; J. Krishnamurti completely denied all rituals and practices. He stressed that we have to raise that energy within ourselves to achieve that and it can be done at any moment. They frequently used the word ‘consciousness’ in their talks. Now that both are gone, many individuals are claiming themselves to be ‘Consciousness Guru’ are in the market who claim that they can teach ‘Conscious Living’ for certain amount of fee starting from $100. OSHO introduced his version with the word ‘Superconsciousness.’ So this term ‘Conscious Living’ is soon going to lose its sheen. While original idea was to be able to see things without other components of thought, now it is sold with packaged bundle of thought as to what the person will see.
What is Organised Religion?
In addition to four components of Religion, mentioned above Organised Religion require many things. It starts with a separate theme or personality.
First component of Organised Religion is Administration which means a body with a first among equals which administer all the affairs of Religion.
Second component is Propaganda by which the popularity of cult is shown and achieved.
Third and most important component is Donation or contribution or service, whatever named called.
Conduct of Business:
They neither have any original idea nor thought nor perspective. These businessmen are dream merchants. They pick ideas from others. Make some simple way to follow the idea, even if it kills the idea, and create new rituals. They promise Moksha or liberation to intellectuals or those fearful of death and promise financial well beings to others. Have VIP corridors for influential people and free food or medicine or superficial medical treatment for masses to create crowd. All works well. There is no slump in this business ever.
BTW did Moses, Christ, Nanak, Kabir, Dadu, Paltu, Paramhansa, Vivekanand, Gurdjieff, Krishnamurti (and so many others) accumulated wealth to live in luxury with their families comfortably?
Today’s religion is Money and Dominance over others. The Organised Religion is all about collecting money in the name of dead masters who braved their own life in poverty and hardship.
In view of various mundane ways to look at these terms, this classification felt necessary for a different version of truth which may join all these together. Actually we look for some popularly superior authority which may put stamp of approval on our lifestyle while we may live as we may like.
© Sandeep Bhalla