Religion of love
Do monks really have to wear robes? Does religion really have to be institutionalised? Do mantras or chants really have to be chanted? I often wonder what religion is all about. Surely it is about finding truth? The Truth of who we really are, whatever that might be. For me it is ahimsa or nonviolence to all that exists. Of course, I acknowledge the fact that sages gave us methods or practices to catalyse this process of Self-realisation, but in the process, one can get fixated or even institutionalised by these very practices.
Is not religion about finding the truth about non-attachment, love and freedom? When subjected to close scrutiny, these words are actually loaded with meaning and each of us may interpret it differently. It is said that in the ancient Indian Knowledge systems, the basic purpose of life is non-violence and this can only happen In a state of nonattachment and nonexpectation. In the words of Swami Sivananda, who gives us the mantra, ‘Be good and do good,’ what could be more simpler, yet so hard to follow.
The everyday man has more humanity in the main than the religious practitioner who obsesses with practices such as mantra chanting and rituals and states of consciousness. When I think of human evolution, I think it is about being a conscious and better version of yourself each day. I think that discussions such as those about religious practices and which method is better than the other are completely unnecessary. From this we create divisiveness instead of forging unity and goodness, the very opposite of the purpose of all world religions.
What went wrong, I keep wondering. Life has now become complicated by us seeking a sense of identity by attempting to belong to a particular path or religion and justifying its righteousness over other paths. This was less common in times and decades that have gone by when people in post-Independence India lived harmoniously together with each other, and it was not unusual for people to be good friends with people across communities such as Christians, Muslims, and Hindus. If we were less attached to the externals of religion and more interested in the inner and the real essence, we would all stand on the same platform and the world would be more at peace.
I feel immense gratitude towards those who live the true essence of spirituality as this is what the real purpose of religion is – to stress on brotherhood, unity of man and love.