An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Losing religion is inconsequential; Look for yourself

Narendra in Calcutta 1885.jpgI read Purba’s self analyzing post “Losing My Religion” with a lot of interest. Not that she said anything “wrong”, but I wanted to comment on the subject. The comment,however, became so long, I thought it was better off as a post in itself. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

If a ritual is done mindfully – just fasting – it can make you a Buddha. If breathing is done mindfully, you can become the highest of Yogi/Yogini.

If none of them are.. done with any level of application and mindfulness, then its all a waste. Some achieve Nirvana just following their breath. Most expend their lifetime of breaths and achieve nothing worth knowing.

Its not about what you do or do not do, its about how you have approached it.

To not follow any ideology or have any belief is a conclusion you should come to after you have tried to look for yourself. You cannot start with that assumption. If you do then you are merely rearranging your set of beliefs. It doesn’t matter what belief you replace it with, you are still no better off. If someone next to you believes fasting makes her better, and you believe that it does not – then its merely a case of your word against hers. You are fighting one belief with another. That’s neither here nor there.

Nanak said that any amount of reading the Vedas will not get you any closer to Liberation. Yet, the entire Gurbani is full of stories and excerpts / wisdom of Vedas. So, was he Schizophrenic? No, he realized that merely reading them as books or as texts will not get you anywhere. Vedas point to something – they are the signposts, if you will. Most people just come to those sign posts and quickly jump up and sit on them.. thinking that sitting on the signpost at the crossroads will take them to the destination. It wont! But its still important to know which way to go.

But then comes an upstart with a “scientific mind” like from our generation, and he just rips the signpost off and says – “See, it was useless!” and quickly sits on that spot with a big smile of satisfaction. Well, he is no better than the guy who was sitting ON the signpost! Worse, he doesn’t know where to go! The earlier guy had the indication, but didn’t have the wisdom to leave. The result is the same, but in the first case, there was a “possibility”. In the second case, even that slim possibility, where one’s intellect – if worked on – could have taken him off his perch and made him walk the distance.. has been neatly ripped off.

When Tradition met Rebellion

Millions and millions of Bengalis worship Kali every year out of tradition and/or compulsion. Yet there was only one who truly made Kali his raison d’etre and became a Ramakrishna. There are yet more – millions still – Bengalis who rebel against tradition and read the depths of philosophy, reason and logic from the best minds in history. They are well read and can argue every angle. Yet, there was only one who took his urge to know to a point where from just another “intellectual”, adda-ised Bengali he became Swami Vivekananda!

And it is a quirk of history that both these interesting and unique Bengalis – from exact opposite side of the “Tradition Continuum” came together. Ramakrishna begged, followed and requested Vivekananda to come back; while the rebel in Vivekananda kept abandoning Ramakrishna out of contempt for tradition and rituals. But Ramakrishna knew what this rebel could bring to tradition. And the combination of the two was explosive not just for the two of them but for the humanity!

Unfortunately, no Ramakrishna may follow the rebels in our generation for the compassion and humility combined with spiritual foresight and attainment is very tough to find in today’s world. And we rebels can’t see any better! That is the tragedy of our generation and the rebellion in us.

The Longing

Don’t venerate anything or anybody. Don’t believe anything or anybody – not even yourself. But look… till you die.. look. The only currency that works in spiritual exploration is LONGING! There is no good or bad answer. Just longing will take you there in its own way. But longing should be such that it cuts through your mindsets.. it should challenge you everyday… every moment.

When i say longing – I don’t mean longing for a Krishna or a Jesus or whatever.. or even God. But, Longing to find the Truth of your existence.

For example, when you say, “I want to find”.. ask yourself – “Who is asking this question”?? Really.. who… is .. interested .. in finding? Because, whoever is asking the question is “You”. Then go into your journey of finding the YOU. Who or what is you?

It was a question that students of Yajnavalka asked the Sage. He said “Neti Neti” … whatever you can observe is not it. .. because I am the Observer. Well… if everything you Observe is not it.. then you come to a point of Zero. For you can Observe everything… so everything is outside of you.

Arjun asked the same question of Krishna. He went the other side. He said “I am ALL”. EVerything you observe, is ME! Not Mine, mind you.. but ME!

So, the longing to know the primal question. And, the funny thing is that NO ANSWER can be acceptable – if you are serious and honest. Because you will keep asking until you come to a point where NO question is left. If you stop at any answer…. you have rested merely on a belief. You haven’t gotten anywhere closer.

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