A truth seeker recently asked me a question that I have been often asked by many, “What religion are you convinced with and follow in your life?”. My answer to them on all occasions has been that I know the concept of religion, and you will find a bit of every religion in me but the majority of no religion at all. Since my college days which were the initial days on my journey to self-exploration, I was looked at and categorized as a supporter of neo- paganism but contradictory to that were the expression of my opinions on a wide range of religious topics. My thoughts and ideas always churned the minds of those around me. I decided to provide a better explanation to this gentleman who asked me this interesting question.
Whenever people discuss ‘What is religion?’ they often talk about the aspect and extension of a particular religion and its theory but seldom the discussion is within the proposition of religion in Toto. I refrain from naming any specific religion or sect for the purpose of discarding undue extension of theme and losing the topic of focus here. One needs to understand the role of religion in the context of individuality. Ask yourself, how is it that you are connected with religion? Through society or masses or was it your soul’s urge? And I am sure; with a slight dip inside, your answer will be the former – society or masses. For many of you it could be your parents inherited or even imposed. A few of you would have adapted to the rituals, some of you would have abandoned the formalities, and rest of you would be struggling for a long time trying to make up your mind whether to accept, adapt or abandon.
Religion, an affair of your deep core within the individual spirit, so how someone else’s impositions can fit you and your life? When buying an undergarment for yourself, it is you who judges the fitting and comfort based on how it feels on your body. That snug fit that ultimate comfort and confidence and gives you the feel good factor can never be chosen by someone else. It is for you to choose, comment and decide. Your trusted friends can help you narrow down your options by suggesting brands, texture or size, but ultimately it is you who will feel and choose the best fit. This is an object which is a matter of outside of your body, it is tangible, visible and open to influence by others to some extent. So very simply, how anyone else can decide for you the comfort and suitability of a religious belief for you? How can someone else impose it on you if it is not even a matter of the body but the soul and spirit?
We often use the phrase. ‘Religion teaches us’, but why can’t it offer? A religion should leave some space for an individual to utilize their brain for selection or rejection. Religion is not a universal truth like the sun rising in the east. In fact it is a contextual comparison based on facts and findings. Findings can be deduced and could be offered to you, and it will not be compulsive for you to accept. If it suits you, you can follow them and embrace the belief or else you also have discretion to reject it. Teaching and training is essential in our day to day life for example, we have to teach younger children their basic chores and activities according to the easiness of life pattern. This training we provide will be selective and could be extensive too when required. Similarly in religion, it is up to the individual to choose what learnings they wish to imbibe in their lives. Another example is when a student gets selected to study Engineering, he or she will not receive any training as a medical student and vice versa.
You should have a choice to select religion and related ground according to the propensity of spirit for connectivity with the divine. When I say the word ‘religion’, I do not just mean the names available in column of a form and I also do not just mean ritual, treatise and laid down dogmas. I mean the essence that lies at the centre of it. Religion has been so clouded with institutional affairs, that they completely overshadow the underlying essence & spirit. Many of us blindly follow the words of holy men and clergy who have interpreted the Holy Scriptures for us, only with fear that non-following will bring many curses in life
It is due to these underlying fears that our individualistic view of religion goes missing. Fear, a categorized negative emotional phenomenon can never give birth to love, compassion, or positive aspects. But many people with blind faith repeat prayers in fear and negativity with the expectation of positivity in life. The essence of religion is religiousness, which is like the centre to a circle. However, people get stuck at the periphery with an expectation that they will someday reach the centre.
Ultimately, religion should bring religiousness, although there are numerous hurdles in reaching the centre. As a number of modern intellectual and cultural forces have accentuated a difference between these two, and therefore we know that it is very difficult to experience the real essence of religion. Many real enlightened persons are still undiscovered and unidentified as the world is so vastly divided due to religion.
I am a proponent of religiousness where no religion hinders you in knowing yourself. A knower can never be a follower. So there is no question of me being a follower of any religion. And this subject is definitely not something, which can be traced by traveling on a high way. This search can be concluded with a path way. One cannot travel on a highway of predefined thoughts and beliefs to discover the truth of religion. You make an all-out effort in real understanding of religion and religiousness will soothe and provide comfort to the spirit in your perishable body.
© Vikash Kumar 2015