An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Youtube, Idol Worship and Fanaticism

Pakistan’s government does not want its people to watch Youtube. Why? Because it has some videos on the Prophet cartoon story. So, they think their youngsters shouldn’t be seeing anything on thevideo site including some of the most wonderful videos that can be informative.

The madness in closing your mind seems empowering in immediate term but is debilitating thereafter.

I am not sure why the Muslims over the centuries do not want to see an image of their Prophet or their God, but I assume its genesis would have been in the negatives of idol worship. And that, in turn, would in the principle (philosophically speaking), be because if you start “capturing” a God in an idol you are basically negating the boundless-ness of God-consciousness.

However, who ever came up with this Islamic formulation did not understand another side of the idol worship story: form and name are immaterial – characteristics, however, that you associate with the form or name are more important. Or in other words, how do you define whatever you imagine?

Another way to look at it: Name and Form are NOT different either. If you have a name for something.. you have already created a form in your mind. Description preceeds a name. Further, description is the verbal FORM of a physical representation. So if someone has a name for God and can describe it and still asserts that he does not want to have a “physical form” is simply exhibiting circular logic.

Then, does form – idol, painting or just a name or description matter? Our thoughts have already restricted the “God” in any case.

In fact, a person who creates an Idol and worships the deity and still nevertheless saying that notwithstanding the restrictions of my small mind – You are boundless and Infinite – is probably more honest in his acceptance of an Infinite God than a person who tries his best to restrict that Infinite Entity by ascribing motives to “His” actions and extrapolating to “Him” the weaknesses of a human mind and still seeking to destroy the idols with a vengeance!

At least the Idol Worshipper who – mindfully (important qualification) – interacts with his God by ascribing Infiniteness is pointing to the obvious problem that human existence brings along – we cannot possibly “imagine” Infinity” in the real sense. He is admitting it to start off with but has found a “workaround”.

Of course, the issue occurs when this workaround becomes the sine qua non of holiness and God realization.

But this is the problem with religion, priests, prophets and saints. They come up with “Philosophies for Dummies” series by trying to come up with simplified one-liners/quick-guides… and that simplification, instead of being “cues” to the real Truth becomes THE reality for the followers. So, while the beginnings of “not recommending” Idol Worship were probably more spiritual in intent, banning it and being fanatic about such a ban took on a decidedly superstitious route.

Similarly on the other hand, using an idol for a concentrated session of meditation may be extremely helpful, while you chant – knowingfully – verses describing the infinite-ness of the entity’s reality; but restricting the same entity to just that idol can be very debilitating and another route to superstition.

Therefore, in my book, both are superstitions – unmindful Idol Worship and blind opposition to it.

A fanatical and a restless mind can never be at peace with itself or be one with the infinite. A mind that has an ideal or a belief to live upto has to constantly measure itself against the pole of an arbitrary prescription as opposed to the boundless-ness of the Infinite. That noise of constant, restrictive and useless evaluation creates fanaticism and restlessness taking the person FAR away from where the Truth really lies.

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