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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Non religious upbringing and living may emerge eventually why?

  Non religious upbringing and living may emerge eventually why?

                   It is not anti-religious or irreligious.

 Yesterday’s article in TOI ‘Raising good kids without GOD’  dt 31 st March 2019
It is probably an aspect of the inevitable stride of human evolution to opt for a non-religious life.
Stuff of sermons and scriptures without contextual relevance of day to day life will get sidelined.

Stuffing rituals without rationale that is understandable and useful for present generation will not carry weight.

Suffocating with too much of taboos and traditions without tangible benefits may cease to have any appeal.

Shifting priorities, drifting value systems, jilting relationships, wilting spirits seek only befitting systems and swift solutions.

Befitting systems must prioritize humanitarian concerns and care, address basic needs of livelihood, comfortable living, care for the environment, in brief all things impacting life every moment rather than socio-morals of ancient times [legal and justice systems have taken over that task]. 

Befitting system must enable to manifest uncalibrated compassion and unqualified love.

Even if it is a very small segment which gets to go non-religious, still, it also sends us signals to scrutinize why such a system [which was considered almost as a panacea and solace for human beings to accept or assign the things not that easily graspable by human intellect and emotions and which , therefore, had almost an unquestioned universal acceptance and following]  has made people to move away.

This is required, not to force everyone to compulsorily follow some religion but to learn and to realize that anything that does not permeate as an intrinsic part of life’s important activities, may and can face in significance for some, if not for many.

We must also question is it necessary to bring every human being into the ambit of some such system [by system I refer generally to religions as I do not want to call by any name or institution].

With this intention, let us move into look at some aspects of religion in general.

None of the statements that follow refer to any religion in particular nor attempts to make judgment about religion but mere observations.

Befitting system must offer opportunities and freedom for the present generation to explore and experience life, according to their own terms [of course with wisdom acquired through knowledge and observation] only then, the interpretation and understanding [sometimes with clarity as bonus] will get internalized. Otherwise, the well intended sermons of religions and advices of elders gained through years of experience will be the prerogative of preachers, teachers and elders and whether to listen to them, how to interpret them and understand them will be the privilege of the present generation and they will also start reacting to society [ of religious preachers and other ideology injectors] trying to  orchestrate the perception of the present generation .

If these are ensured basically, then, only after that we can offer the package of aesthetic sensitivity, cultural appreciation and time tested traditional values.

Human psychology is  more comfortable and conversant dealing with  premises, frames of references and observations rather than through indoctrinations, conditioned prejudices which will collapse at some point of time when the poor people will be left to suffer in a  vacuous inanity without a proud socio cultural and psychological identity and will also be very vulnerable to adopt anything and everything irrespective of its long term benefits or inherent value  so let us impart more importantly  humaneness and humanitarian values.

Problems crop up only when we as a species try to feel that we must authenticate every aspect of life through social approval further validated through sanctification by either religion, or substantiation by accepted scientific practices, commercial success or stamp of socio cultural sanctions.

Any topic I normally throw into the cauldron of life in context as it is happening now along with all that has happened and churn it with a churn staff or kirn swee of contextually relevant observations and also observe the external impacts that play their part in the evolution of anything/everything.

Too much of criticism and analysis [especially using a cocktail of Meta terminologies, remotely relevant or totally irrelevant factors with a mix of strong spirited information infusion] creates critical paralysis.

Loads of suggestive or justificatory information do not necessarily contribute to or help a better understanding and projecting them as if distilled wisdom of some unique religious or spiritual knowledge when most of the writers are aware of only distilled spirits.

Nothing eternal can be known eternally by anyone because everyone of us is basically a mortal as a conscious living being leading a life inside a human body and mind.

So, when we do not know what is eternal, how can we make claims or counter claims or worst of all try to exercise control over or exclusive marketing rights for it?

This is where religion pitched in as it primarily evolved if one were to analyze intellectually perhaps as Scott Atran, a respected  Anthropologist called as “belief in hope beyond reason”.

Erich Fromm, “humans have a need for a stable frame of reference. Religion apparently fills this need. In effect, humans crave answers to questions that no other source of knowledge has an answer to, which only religion may seem to answer. However, a sense of free will must be given in order for religion to appear healthy. An authoritarian notion of religion appears detrimental.”

Individual opinions, ideas that inundate the social media space must be followed, observed and encouraged because after all they manifest reactions and participation of individuals.

They can at best produce islands of 'micro beliefs leading to macro behavior' or confirmation bias enhancing group coherence but not homogenizing madness insisting on ignoring variety and marrying up with specific identity which was what the mass opinion molding and belief manufacturing and/or marketing domains mentioned above do namely- religion, politics, media and any other biased ideological or cultural identity based outfits or communities.

                                   Why are religions losing their relevance?

“We live in a changing universe, and few things are changing faster than our conception of it”-Timothy Ferris

“There is no tomorrow. There is only a planet turning on its axis, and a creature given to optimistic fancies”-Robert Brault     
Evolution has taken us from Kuru disease generators to cyber Guru Venerators.

Socially certain societies, why most human societies, are groomed as a group with more incentives and encouragement to follow than explore; exercise hypocrisy rather than skeptical questioning and this is precisely the technique adopted by all religious institutions either with or without organized set up. However, change in every aspect of life is an inevitable truth that cannot be avoided or wished away.

The status quo may get disturbed but it is a necessary adventure for emancipation of human spirit. 

As Winston Churchill said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” I may add taboos and tradition may tuck it in or turn away but truth is ‘inconvenience’. G.K. Chesterton’s definition is the best ‘An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered’ 
When human intellect resorts to defend or justify, more than define or explore or accept facts for what they are worth, normally it becomes sharper with additional vindications from many allied areas because the defense is further enforced with adrenal reactions which are all normal.

Guy Murchie declares, “Evolution itself is an open ended and indeterminate process”… “Given the remarkable progress in our understanding of biochemistry, molecular biology, and evolution as a whole … we have failed to develop concepts, ideas, even a language that could capture the dance of this life” 

I would like to add it is mostly due to our intellectual reluctance and religious impediments.

But the whole malady started when certain societies, already well connected, intellectually more advanced ones and therefore got so well conditioned by their traditions and religiously prescribed ways of life based on such sound base, obviously ended up, out of lack of humility and refused to or blocked to accept alongside biological evolution the evolutionary trends in  psychology and sociology as well.

In evolutionary biology we find that all creations have shed the unnecessary parts or shrunk them for better survival; in evolutionary sociology too human race has shed too many models of social groups and narrowed down on a few that would be easier for global interaction; in languages too, from a few thousands languages that existed humanity has reduced the number to just a few hundred languages.
Why it is not being done in religion, i.e. shedding the contextually irrelevant parts – aspects of socio-cultural life that have outlived their expiry date.

As the great scholar and my favorite author Bertrand Russell writes in POLITICAL IDEALS (1917) CHAPTER IVINDIVIDUAL LIBERTY AND PUBLIC CONTROL
“The creative impulses, unlike those that are possessive, are directed to ends in which one man’s gain are not another man’s loss. The man who makes a scientific discovery or writes a poem is enriching others at the same time as himself. Any increase in knowledge or good-will is a gain to all who are affected by it, not only to the actual possessor. Those who feel the joy of life are a [source of ] happiness to others as well as to themselves. Force cannot create such things, though it can destroy them; no principle of distributive justice applies to them, since the gain of each is the gain of all. For these reasons, the creative part of a man’s activity ought to be as free as possible from all public control, in order that it may remain spontaneous and full of vigor. The only function of the state in regard to this part of the individual life should be to do everything possible toward providing outlets and opportunities”

                                                          Religion -The Great Brand

The blessings, benedictions, beauty, businesses, battles, browbeats, bluffs, barrenness and much more are packed as mixture inside a box with a brand name called ‘Religion’.

However, certain items are expected in this box as ingredients of the mixture especially items like God, Enlightenment, Spiritual experience, philosophical concepts, rational explanations, debates, syncretism, ideological veneration, blind faiths, belief systems, scriptural authority, devotion, worship, socio-cultural activities, traditions, customs, scripture sponsored or life’s experience propelled doctrines and so on.

Human beings born in different environments, cultures, societies are invariably initially initiated without their consent at a very young age as children and most cases even as babies to behold the box with a brand name called ‘Religion’.

The mixture is the result of the churning process wherein at different times and at different places different ingredients of the mixture dominate to the detriment of other ingredients or perhaps to compliment other ingredients.

Blessed are the poor, innocent, ignorant are meant to assuage lack of growth.

The whole problem arises because we are all groping about in the dark and are trying our best to grasp the spiritual aspect/element/facet of human life besides/beyond its two other fundamental aspects physical and mental life. We are all injected with a belief in a supreme power/god/divinity/universal energy which is supposed to be/ really in charge of or part of this spiritual dimension of human life.

There are many things or even anything can help in the process [ as Dhattareya is said to have learnt from many things and rightly so] like religion, reason, philosophy, psychology, science, social life, events, ideas, intellectual sharpness, crisis, nature, attitude and cultural milieu.

It was perhaps religion which primarily dominated the discussion on many issues or perhaps assimilated and appropriated many rules to decipher the hitherto unknoen aspects of life and developed  multiple  belief systems and ensured that most human beings had a great affinity/attachment/atavistic association with religion along with all its beliefs, faiths, rituals etc.
While other mediums of attempting to know the unknown may have produced many works of tangible benefit to humanity;

Religion has not, except many activities of  entertainment value, festivity, 

unrealistic/unverifiable/unverified pronouncements  of the self proclaimed/institutionally appointed marketers of divinity/god starting from a local priests to great saints.

They have neither shown nor produced God /Divinity as they claimed.

So, as much as these marketers claimed it was all  consumer rights violation.

The whole problem hinges there on the hinge with a swaying door of uncertainty wherein some get in; some get out; some watch the door swaying whether and when the God/Divinity will reveal for sure , whether is he /she inside or whether/when he/she will come out and reveal himself/herself or can humanity have any easily recognizable/visually apparent  confirmed clarity  on this issue; let us also put aside multiple theories or long winding lectures with trite words used for the convenience of language or satisfaction of the status quo addicts because it is always easier to say that you believe in some god for various reasons and get on with life rather than getting into skeptical mode/philosophical mode/scientific inquiry  and get branded as someone with multiple labels attributed [mostly with a condescending tone] to such a position that one takes . 

Many things exist and happen irrespective of one's belief/non belief or irrespective of what any brainy chap claims/ or criticizes/condemns. 

One credence that can be given to religious beliefs is that the very fact so many religions have so much of literature, culture etc indicates that some people somewhere at some time would have come in contact with someone/something like a powerful passing lightening impacting them with enlightenment and /or bliss and also played perhaps, though a very remote possibility, some role in the evolution of human species.

Otherwise humanity as a species would not have bothered to spend so much of time, energy and money in the name of religion.

Or probably in some dire situations like insurmountable crisis when all human faculties like reasoning, thinking and intellect  have failed to come to the rescue but some unknown element or happening beyond or besides the known human approaches has given a solution and helped, then, perhaps, it is only normal and expected of the beneficiaries of such elements to extol, popularize and perpetuate those elements or aspects that have helped them out in such dire situations. Some aspects of religious belief fall in this category too. Whatever happened was perhaps a part of evolutionary process wherein in probability some coincidences may have occurred. 

Of course, we have an overwhelming sea of blind beliefs, fettered faiths, frenzied following, silly superstitions, presumption that the greater the number of adherents the greater the religion is and doing many things to achieve it and many other negative and irrelevant things, unfortunately, form a major part of many religions and these things in fact bring the greatest disrepute to religions in general.

                                               Harsh reality of religions. 

"Either you deal with what is the reality or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you." - Alex Haley

No rituals, practices, cultures and traditions connected with any religion are part of any innate or intrinsic requirement of the human species either for its physical, mental, social or spiritual existence.
However, over many generations they ( many practices of many religions ) have contributed so many positive and pleasant aspects to enhance human EXISTENCE into a better LIFE with good intentions and sometimes with great results too.

Many individuals, groups, societies and nations have appreciated, understood and adopted those practices because of the significance of those practices.

The problem arises when there is an attempt to institutionalize and claim only one's own version is the best and with a dictat that only such version must be followed by everyone.

It was this facet of religion that has caused much destruction and many deaths.

Belief is a personal choice like dress.

There must be freedom. 

The very fact that NRMs and multitude of cults mushroomed some 50 years back was an indication to all status quo addicts and venerators in the realm of existing world religions that human beings are seeking many more things from religions beyond what is already being offered by religions. 
Any extraneous project or product must attract human being not compel through interference.
In the process of evolution everything changes:- values, ethics, morals, beliefs, ideologies etc.

NRMs have popped up to provide the much needed tools to deal with the changes. 

While we have allowed evolution in every sphere of human activity in religion alone, we have cautiously protected with love status quo, of course with certain selective misinterpretation of select books or scriptures. This, if you ask any psychologist will tell you is the manifestation of sense of insecurity.

All religious leaders must remember that the greatness of religion does not hinge on the number of adherents but in the temper of tolerance towards others, though there is no harm in having more number of adherents. It does not hinge on louder mikes and larger places of worship or even reclaiming historical mistakes with histrionic attacks

Religions are a good mix of theories, dogmas, doctrines, rituals, traditions, scriptural dos and don'ts, sermons for better behavior, cultural entertainments, socio -cultural values, physical care, environmental care and nature worship.

Religions also have imparted many philosophical concepts meant to enhance human life imbued with humanitarian values; to improve social life imbued with compassionate values and to enlighten the spiritual life imbued with sensitivity to all forms of life . 

All of the above are influential,  important,  and impactful in varying degrees at different contexts.
Unfortunately most of them also have been subjected to multiple interpretations due to lack of empirical authentication or for want of documented evidences.

However, some of them are always relevant, time tested and useful for humanity.
It is good to want to adopt them or to appropriate them.

But then when they are done with some ulterior motives and manipulations and in some cases done because wanting to desperately appear relevant, or merely as an outcome of either ideological or traditional indoctrination then it deviates from all the seriousness and substance of religiosity and becomes a mere ritualistic perpetuation of another activity devoid of both its intrinsic essence and contextual relevance.

The line that differentiates between faith, ferventness and fanaticism becomes too thin sometimes to justify inhumane activities in the name of religion.

So, we all need to respect that role of religion. But at the present movement predominantly there are too many things that need to be prioritized over religion, I mean all religions.

So, I personally feel that all religions and most religious activities could be relegated to the back ground in terms of relevance to life on the whole as large amount of population are struggling for basic survival needs and are devoid of any literacy or education. 

It is precisely this vulnerable people who are portrayed as victims and the preferred beneficiaries of divinity with slogans like ‘God loves the poor’ etc.

The line that differentiates between faith, ferventness and fanaticism becomes too thin sometimes to justify inhumane activities in the name of religion.

Though there are many exceptions and I would not like to brush everyone with the same color, still there are many whose very sustenance financially, and/or identity socially hinge on tagging on to some religion or religious connected activities. 

In certain cases that inspire and in some cases instigate. 

The manifestation of mass opinions, obsessions, and objectives takes various forms depending on certain inherent attributes, imbibed cultural attitudes or instructed method of operation.

It is difficult to define intentions; Science/technology has not come up with a machine which can deduct intentions.

So it would be better that sanity prevails over everyone that they cannot lead a life only with all the tall claims of religion, it at best helps the marketers of divinity in all religions.

Because we need to remember one thing, while all of us feel the need for unity, what unity needs is feeling for all by all.


What are they? Why have they come about? For whom? What role do they play? Why search? Inquisitiveness is the eternal spring of human psyche and it is through this stream that flows from the spring that traces of ignorance are washed away one by one as Phenella writes in “The Unwritten Comedy”.
“To be ignorant of many things is expected
To know you are ignorant of many things is the beginning of wisdom.
To know a category of things of which you are ignorant is the beginning of learning.
To know the details of that category of things of which you are ignorant is to no longer be ignorant.”

All the N.R.M.s, Cults, etc. are the offshoots of that great, wonderful complicated subject called Religion.

As a fact of history, Religion is inescapable and it is profoundly influential in any culture or society because beyond its rituals and pompous paraphernalia, beyond its creeds, beyond its myriad forms, it has been in spirit and in truth a great binding power. That in fact is the literal meaning of the word Religion from the Latin Relig(are) : To tie, to fasten. Re-RE +LIG=Bind , tie. That is binding the Part with the Whole. Integration of  the individual Self with the Universal Self; perception of the presence of Universal Self in all forms of life.

What is Religion in reality? How it is perceived and practised? What are its many facets? Once I set on the task of finding answers to the various aspects of Religion. In my search to find out why despite the all embracing cover and almost immortal existence and unquestioned appeal of Religion, still, many NRMs, Cults, have cropped up. And that too, diverting individuals from the mainstream religions which have withstood the test of time.

In my search, the literature on Religion was infinitely vast because the subject matter is INFINITY, which every one attempts to grasp with specialized finite skills. Besides trying to intellectually pursue religion is like drinking sea water to quench the thirst. The more we drink the more we become thirsty. The subject does not fit into any specific definitions as it deals with science of life and art of living based on the belief in an undeniable, undefiable, and not so easily definable SUPREME POWER as the main maker and mover of all life. So any definition would risk the criticism of deft commissions/admissions and daft omissions; to write

Eclectically about Religion is not an easy task, any attempt to provide a full picture risks superficiality, and any over selective and simplified version would be viewed as parochial due to the blinkered vision and tinkered perception.

As religion concerns about the intrinsic values and aspects of life and the Universe no one can either resort to allowing criticism and dry logical intellectualization [as do the Philosophers] or can anyone blinker his vision with uncritical love [as the Theologians do]

Philosophy and /science must basically accept the undeniable fact that life and universe are continuous processes involving constant movements and changes.

Hence they manifest infinite variety and delicious diversity, and consequently, defy patterned, prepared, and patented idle analyses or empirical evaluations which work better with static phenomenon. As Heraclitus says while explaining that the Universe was in a state of flex ‘You never step into the same river twice’.

So philosophy cannot sandwich religious perception between reductionism [which attempts to generalize, homogenize, and ultimately simplify into a rule or principle the complexities of reality] and heuristicism [which prepares a theoretical or ideological explanations as the key to unlock the doors of perception] because religious values which concern life and universe, if at all, we can compress them into any generalization, are either personal or psychological [innate] or extra-personal [socially and culturally molded]-either traditional culture, i.e. emanating from present trends] or supra-personal [metaphysical] or mystical or spiritual or at times a clear harmonious combination or a clumsy mixture or a compromised compound of some or all of these.

                 Religious scriptures and their relevance

Wisdom is never in short supply.

The fault lies with the religious preachers who have misinterpreted and also misapplied some concepts out of context because religious scriptures ,all religious scriptures have many things applicable at the time they were written based on the historical, social ,regional and cultural behavioral patterns of that period and place and therefore may not be relevant now and perhaps , not required at the present moment.

Before all these things one must try to first understand why we want religion? what aspect of our life are we going to make religion play a part? Our physical life is governed by natural laws; our social life is governed by social laws, our intellectual life is governed by the power of reasoning; what is left is the spiritual aspect of life dealing with our soul. First we must personally know and feel the existence of soul or spirit in us, not because someone else says so, then try to make use of whatever is said in our religious scriptures and find out whether within our limited perception whether they help us enhance the quality of our soul and spirit and also understand that all other species also have the same soul and are governed by the same universal spirit or spiritual laws. 

Religion and love- the two great unifiers in reality how?

The underlying theme of both love and religion are relating, reconnecting and reuniting with real involvement 

Both these words are much misused and therefore their real meanings have been either masked or maligned.

The topic is really wonderful because original meanings of both these words have very important and vital components for life as a whole.

The vital components are the initiations of 'how we relate' with others  and  by extension to higher spirits.

In both, we try to reconnect  our feelings, emotions, expectations in joy  with someone else known to us [which is called love] or some other unknown source [which is called religion].

The expectation is primarily a source of  support, comfort and belief that other is reliable.

To all those who may doubt the commonality let me clarify that  etymologically  the word Religion is derived from the two latin words “re” and “ligare” which means “to reconnect”
'Ligare' incidentally is the root for words like link, liaison etc.

Another commonality is those involved in love and  religion get involved with total intensity and intense totality without any half heartedness and hence there is immense desire with expectations.
In love it to manifest in reciprocation and commonly referred to as aspects of compatibility.

In religion it has to manifest in one's own evolved character with a sense of responsibility, compassion, equanimity and respectable behavior.

There could be varying degrees of intensity on different aspects.

Love could be romantic or rejoicing or responsible  or reverential.

Religion could be ritualistic or rock solid belief based or recreational or rational or real seeking for enlightened states of human consciousness.

Therefore, both love and religiousness defy any standard measurable quantification based evaluation or judgment.

So, it is no wonder that Sanskrit has at least 96  words for love

Like we do for diseases the diagnosis for love and religion too must proceed from the manifestation.
Diseases are negative manifestations affecting through disintegration human health, happiness and hacking life itself ultimately .

Whereas, Love and  Religion are positive manifestationsintegrating human  reasons, responses, reactions, reciprocations andreuniting and creating  synergy synthesis and Synderesis*ultimately.
The word love etymologically refers to the manifestations like theGermanic word leubh- "to care, desire, love" (cf. Latin lubet, later libet "pleases;“ Sanskrit lubhyati "desires;"

 So, the reality of religion and love is unity of human spirits, senses and sanity.

“In the end nothing less than the whole of everything can be the truth of anything at all”- William James

"The important thing is this: to be able to give up in any given moment all that we are for what we can become." --DeSeaux

The "Either you deal with what is the reality or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you." - Alex Haley

* "Synderesis"["Synderesis" is a technical term from scholastic philosophy, signifying the innate principle in the moral consciousness of every person which directs the agent to good and restrains him from evil].

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