Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Church of Open Mind

Saturday night a very dear friend invited me for drinks. This particular friend is a woman of great substance and has done extremely well, spiritually; financially and intellectually. She had invited a few friends and each one was pretty much on top of their game, but not without their fair share of pain, sadness and desires.

The conversation that ensued the wine took an interesting turn and veered towards religion, logic, dogma and fanaticism. The question that came about was, why do highly intelligent; highly analytical people who question everything and anything in life take 2000 year old religious teachings at face value? These are the same people who will turn everything and question it and try and come to cognitive conclusions, but when it comes to faith they follow blindly what has been laid down .

We no more question the geometry of earth. For the longest time it was believed that the earth was flat and now the whole idea seems ludicrous. No one thought that we could fly in air and now we fly at supersonic speeds and of course how can we deny the internet that has opened our minds to inconceivable ideas. Then why are we still stuck in the religious relics? Why do people still try and convince each other to conform to their religious ideologies? Why do they denigrate another’s faith and try and impose their own on the others. Why do some people follow blindly the traditions and teachings that were laid down thousands of years ago?

Rather interesting questions, but very dangerous when combined with alcohol and testosterone.
As is rightly said, never combine alcohol with a discussion about religion and politics. Fortunately the conversation did not reach a point of no return. In fact it ended in a very civilized manner talking about acceptance of interfaith and being open minded about faith.

I guess this was because each one of us was coming a place of acceptance and although we could have all indulged in intellectual masturbation and put forth our points of view we decided to let go and enjoy the wine instead.

However when I got home and started thinking about the questions, it did dawn on me that we are all extremely tightly married to our idea of religion and GOD. We often believe in the superiority of one GOD over another and try and impose our faith and beliefs on another. After all there is power in numbers and the more people who think like me the better!

Isn’t that strange that we go out shopping for shoes and try many pairs before deciding which one, but when it comes to faith we allow ourselves to be swayed by others .

One size does not fit all so why not try what works for you. 6.5 billion People in this world. Can you imagine the confusion and ridiculousness if all looked the same, ate the same, spoke the same and wore the same, so why do we become so parochial when someone from another faith shares his or her beliefs with us.

Any faith that makes you happy and brings joy to you and to the people around you is a faith you should follow. Be it Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Shiva, Nanak, Buddha, Amun, Ra, Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, Sun, Moon, water, etc.

How does it matter who or what you believe in if it makes you a better person. (I know that the definition of a better person stands to debate, but I shall, leave that for another time)
There is no denying that the basis of religion is love and compassion, but what happens to the love and compassion when someone disagrees with another’s faith. The very people who preach unconditional love and acceptance pick up arms and get ready to kill and we conveniently call it faith killing. What gives anyone the right?

I just spoke to friend on the phone and discussed with him the idea of a church of open mind and he very rightly pointed out that people who want you to follow their faith are doing it out of love for you. Because they have been saved by their particular faith they want you to partake in that joy and happiness. In a way it is an expression of their love for you and by denying their advances you are rejecting their love.

He is probably right. Is it not true that when we experience something wonderful we feel like sharing it with our loved ones? I remember having had an amazing dessert in a restaurant and insisted on ordering the same for my husband, but sadly he is not a chocolate fan and he did not find it as mouth watering, finger licking good as I had painted it to be. Of course I got offended! How could he not love what I thought was the best dessert in the world? He preferred an apple turnover over warm chocolate melted cake. Just the thought of the cake is enough to take me to orgasmic delight, but here he was rejecting it completely and preferring the apple turnover.

Did I kill him over his choice of dessert?

Much as I would have liked to (for other reasons than the desert ;-) ) I did not and he lives to tell.
Then why do we always expect the other person to love the same GOD/faith? Isn’t life wonderful because of the diversity in all its color and richness?

If something or someone works for you go after it, share it, talk about it but be open minded enough that they may prefer something else. Just because they have a different call connection does not mean they cannot dial GOD directly. Imagine the confusion at GOD’s home if there was only one number to call. We would be put on hold for ever.

Find you direct connection with GOD and follow your own heart. Seek help if and when it is offered.

At times we are to weak and vulnerable to really find the strength, so if friends and well wishers are offering you their way of salvation, accept it , but then really go within yourself to find the answers you seek . The answer lies within and all you need to do is listen to it in silence.