To believe in God or in a guiding force because someone tells you to, is the height of stupidity. We are given senses to receive our information within. With our own eyes we see, and with our own skin we feel. With our own intelligence it is intended that we understand. But, each person must puzzle it out for himself or herself.
A few days ago, as I was trying to Google away some free time, I came across this quote by Sophy Burnham, and it got me thinking. Really, how many of us form our belief systems based on our personal opinions and experiences? Don’t the majority of us rely on what has been passed down to us from generations? Our belief in God, our belief in the various religious customs and rituals that we perform at various stages in our life, are mostly based on what we have absorbed from our parents. Seldom do we break free of the conventional beliefs to form those based on our independent judgements.
Of course, there are some amongst us, who do. Like my friend – a Roman Catholic – who offers her prayers to Lord Jesus and Mother Mary, and at the same time, believes in Sai Baba, a saint worshipped by the Hindus and the Muslims. When I pointed it out to her that a section of the society might find it sacrilegious, she seemed unruffled. Her point being, that she believes in a Supreme Energy that guides her in her time of need and acts as a balm on her disturbed soul. She experiences serenity after having a heart to heart conversation with her Baba ji, and also after reading the Bible! These make up the Supreme Energy she so believes in.
She reiterated, that during the time of her father’s hospitalisation, when she begged God to give her a second chance to do her best for her father, her prayers indeed got answered! Throughout her ordeal, she felt the constant presence of her beloved Baba ji by her side. And, that is where she gained the strength she so needed. So, whatever the certain section of the society feels makes no difference to her, because ultimately, it is her personal belief. Period.
Indeed, it is our belief that should matter, more than that of the world around us! And, it is not just about our faith in the Almighty, but also about our beliefs in certain rituals that we follow vis-a-vis our respective religions. The most misunderstood ones (by me) being those carried out after the death of a family member. I have failed to fathom why it is necessary to appease the departed souls with countless rituals that a majority of us are ignorant about! I believe, that if we treat our people with love and respect when they are with us, then there is really no need to please their souls after they have left for the heavenly abode. The respect that we give them will ensure that their blessings will stay with us after they depart this life.
I confess, that when my mother-in-law passed away, we did not follow any of the rituals suggested to us by our family elders for the peace of her soul. Instead of placing a plateful of food, which would be partaken by the crow ( for the satisfaction of the departed souls), I fed the stray dogs of my area. I am sure she would have suggested the same, had she been able to! And, we have only experienced her blessings, in spite of not having done a single thing to pacify her departed soul. We cared for her when she was amidst us, and gave her the respect that she deserved; for her, that was what mattered the most.
I feel that it’s time we questioned certain rules that have been laid down by our forefathers (and not by God!) and come to conclusions based on our perception, our intelligence. If science can question God’s existence, then why can’t our conscience question certain beliefs that we fail to comprehend? Why wait for the auspicious hour to commence on a new venture? Why not place our trust in the hands of the Almighty and make our positive thoughts and our resoluteness work towards our success? Why wait for a person’s demise to shower him/her with love and respect? Why not give it to them when they are with us? Why dictate terms about faith in a particular deity and disrespect the ‘others’? Why not regard Him as a Supreme Energy that guides us, comforts us, all along the journey of our lives?
As Ms. Burnham suggested, why don’t we puzzle it out for ourselves than blindly follow others? Isn’t forming views based on our intelligence and forming beliefs based on our understanding the true meaning of freedom?