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Faith is a Many Splendoured Thing
Nalinaksha Mutsuddi Bookmark and Share
Since time immemorial every human tribe, in any part of the world, believed in spirituality, life after death, in something elusive and intangible beyond the grasp of common intelligence. The relentless quest for solving the mystery of life and death, herein and hereafter, led him to believe in spirits or deity in the form of any object, living being or natural phenomenon or all powerful God.
 
The spirits, they believed, exerted salubrious or harmful influence on their day today life. The fervent effort to propitiate these spirits for their wellbeing was never found wanting.
 
So, the principle of cause and effect took its firm roots in the hoary past. The same principle in different garbs is flaunted with flourish even today, after subjecting it to so-called updated version of re-interpretation from time to time.  
 
The National Geographic shows that some tribesmen offer pigs, whiskey, and cheroots to their cherished gods. For them it is right course of spiritual action leading to truth, bringing mental peace, and overall well-being for the society. But this very act may be horribly repugnant to many others. It may amount to sacrilege to some other.
 
We dismiss many such practices of the past as outcome of blind faith and superstition.   It is common knowledge that adherents of one religion denounce the precepts and practices of another. Everyone thinks he is in the right track and others are groping in the dark alleys of ignorance. The act of conversion to a different faith out of one’s own volition or due to any external persuasion presupposes, in a way, moving away from a wrong path to a right one.
 
Religious tolerance, out of compulsion or otherwise, doesn’t imply endorsement of other faiths as equals, although all of them answer the same eternal human quest. Every seer, ordained by divine will or being self-enlightened, led his flocks from darkness to light. The tragic fact remains that the light thus shown doesn’t enlighten every other individual. For some, spirits of the dead keep on hovering in the vicinity of the living relatives longing for votive offerings for their salvation. Some claim that the souls are, as if waiting impatiently in a sort of transit camp for the clearance on the final day of judgment, to enter heaven of endless bliss or be condemned to internecine hell for ever, on the basis of their performance -- good or bad in this earthly life.  Still for others, the soul instantly takes birth as a new being, better or worse determined by his deeds in this birth, till in successive births it merges with the absolute, never to be reborn. For some, this liberation can be obtained through sex.
 
There are numerous other variants of the same truth. All are mutually exclusive. Rituals and practices are so divergent that even under extreme emergency situation one can’t be substituted by another for serving similar purposes such as funeral rites or marriage
ceremony.
 
Convergence of many basic values of all faiths is not a matter of fortuity. It’s in fact, in response to the dictates of necessity. To protect the weak majority from the predatory nature of handful cunning and mighty, rules framed --  written or otherwise -- for playing the game of life, evolved over time into value system -- naturally conform to the requirements of many for the survival of the society.
 
The past and present disputes over places of worship of the same Supreme Power that everybody believes in, though called by different names, bear ample testimony to the woeful subjectivity of the human belief system -- albeit the most stupendous and galvanizing force for mankind. It is a cruel irony of history that the truth barrier,so to say, is the greatest divisive factor of humanity.
 
Man is caught in a peculiar paradoxical situation. Due to his innate intelligence he can’t rest content without delving deep into what he wants to call as absolute truth.  His bloated ego blinds him to the utter incapacity of an insignificant creature that man is, to solve the formidable mystery in the face of mind-boggling enormity of the universe, the outer fringe of which still remaining beyond the reach of the most powerful telescope ever devised by man, leaving alone unraveling the bewildering complexity of the microcosm, despite phenomenal strides made so far by science. As a result, the much vaunted rational man in his relentless pursuit of this elusive truth slips blissfully into crass irrationality by claiming to scan the entire universe and everything in it through his mind’s eye and clutches ecstatically at the grandiose crutch of illusory truth – the easiest escape to self-delusion.
 
Honestly speaking, if we have the courage to admit it, flashes of similar truth are arrived at under the influence of psychedelic drugs.
 
It is awfully strange that much-sought-after truth while passing through the prism of human quest disperses into a wide spectrum of illusory hues not compatible with one another. Yet one gets over-elated with it. It is perhaps an indispensable placebo an inwardly insecure and timid man can ill afford, to do without, to sail through the vicissitudes and uncertainty of life.

08/02/2010
More by :  Nalinaksha Mutsuddi
Views: 1477        Comments: 14       
Comments on this Blog
Dear Mr. slumdog author,

Sorry, I'm late to reply to your comment because of being off from the Internet for awhile.

Personally, I don't believe in the existence of God as people explain it to me. Many say it is equivalent to  nature etc etc. But I don't think nature determines somebody's fate or punishes or rewards for doings bad or good etc.

There are cases in my life too which defy explanation. That doesn't make me  to turn to Almighty God. My view is that man is an insigficant creature in this v a a a a s s s t universe. It is futile to claim to know each and everything and when you fail to find an explanation you bring in God in between.

Happy new year to you.

NM
nmutsuddi
01/08/2011
Dear Mr. Mutsuddi,

I responded to your last post quite a while ago though it has not as yet been posted. perhaps it got lost in the deluge of holiday postings. Here is a summary of what I wrote.

After reading other articles you have written on the same subject I must conclude that there is little to no difference in each of our beliefs regarding the existance of God.   However on the one hand I cite the limitations of our own minds and therefore the existence of  "unknown unknowns" to adopt the hedged position of being an agnostic, while you on the other hand have declared yourself to be an athiest. May I ask how you have made that final leap?
slumdog author
01/06/2011
Dear Mr. Mutsuddi,

I have read some of your other writings on the subject, and have to conclude that we share very similar views. Yet you declare yourself to be an athiest, while I call myself an agnostic.

 Agnostic:  somebody denying God's existence is provable: somebody who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.

Clearly I have taken a more hedged position so as to account for the "unknown unknowns"  to quote Donald Rumsfelt. May I ask how you have bridged that chasm to arrive at a conclusion of such finality?


slumdog author
12/29/2010
Dear Mr. Bernard,

Actually I was in a hurry yesterday. That is why my reply was so terse.  It gives me pleasure to find another soul agreeing with my view point. It is a very controversial topic. Agreement on this point is hard to find.

If not believing in the existence of God is atheism then surely I am an atheist. I scratched the surfaces of all religious scriptures and tribal belief systems of all the continents. The concept of God is so diverse among different tribes it makes difficult for someone to believe rationally in the existence of God. In fact, it appeared God exists in the human imagination only. It is a man-made concept. I was about to attempt a book titled, "And Man Created God in His Imagination". I presume you too believe in God, but not in the capacity of human mind to encompass everything of the infinite universe. Yes, man cannot know everything of anything: always something will remain unknown. That is why some revolutionary breakthrough is being made from time to time, but never a final one. Man will never reach the last mile post. This scenario can be accommodated in scientific context but never  in any religious parlance. However, human quest will for ever remain eternal. If religion can swallow this hard truth then there is no problem.

N.M
nmutsuddi
12/24/2010
Dear Mr. Bernard,

I fully agree with you Sir. Thnaks and regards.

NM
nmutsuddi
12/22/2010
Dear Mr. Mutsuddi,

Unfortunately I do not bring any intellectual stimulation to the discussion, since I find that it reflects my own viewpoint.

I do not consider myself an athiest as that is as arrogant a position to take as one who preaches adherance to any one religion. The source of my agnosticisim springs from the abject futility of an insignificant homo sapien to mentally encompass the dimensions of the universe we live in, and then to pronounce on its creator.

Bernard
12/22/2010
Dear Mr. Ashby,

 

Wow!! What a lengthy comment!  You are simply great.

 

( I am sorry to tell you that there was some indication of a new comment on my blog on 16th August. But, on searching I didn’t find it at that time. And I intimated boloji.com about it with no response. It was only on 24th I found it while posting another blog “Why I claim I Won’t be Afraid of Death”.)

 

Before proceeding further let us be assured that this sort of thing cannot be settled by simple discussion. Basically we are poles apart – an agreement is farfetched.

 

I don’t think definition of enlightenment can be fitted into a water tight compartment. The following are some borrowed definitions from other sources.

 

Enlightenment can be defined as awakening to a great reality most of us never perceive

 

Here is another: Enlightenment can refer to many different concepts. In a secular or non-Buddhist context, the word enlightenment often means "full comprehension of a situation" Spiritual enlightenment means to obtain a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, to communicate with or understand the mind of God, to achieve some other type of profound spiritual understanding, or to achieve a fundamentally changed level of existence whereby one's self is experienced as a nonchanging field of pure consciousness.

 

So, if you can agree that enlightenment can be different to different people or situations, or belief systems.

The following lines are quoted from a Jewish site:

Human beings are creatures of society.

If we were born in China, we'd probably be waving little red flags or a book of Mao's favorite sayings. If we were born into a Catholic family in Sicily, we'd probably be waving rosary beads.

Question the origins of your "life philosophy. "Do you essentially have a Greek approach to life? Roman? Eastern? Jewish?

Ask yourself: "If I had been born into a family of Muslim fundamentalists in Iran, what would I be doing with my life today?" If you don't ask this question, chances are quite good that today you'd still be a Muslim fundamentalist!

For the most part, unless we've done our own thorough investigation, "society" has most likely been our "default philosophy."

This is what I meant by “conditioning”. To come out of that conditioning – though possible – is not easy. God is one, but is it the same God the Christians, Muslims and Jews believe? If it is the same there should be no dispute at all. So everybody’s God is different.

I fully agree with you that science doesn’t have all the answers, and what is more, it can never have the final answer. Science is human and is bound by human limitations. And it is agreed upon. God is omnipotent; whatever is happening in the universe is the handiwork of God. It needs no further explanation. But the basic flaw – as I think – is that no ‘question’ or ‘doubt’ is entertained. In fact, there is no such scope.


N.M

 

 

nmutsuddi
08/25/2010


About enlightenment varying according to context, though apparent in the example you pose of Christian and Buddhist enlightenment, it can only be one in essence - simply, there cannot be two enlightenments, or three, if we care to include scientific enlightenment.  Buddhism, indeed Hinduism, was in evidence hundreds, in Hinduism's case thousands, of years before Christ, you might say, presaged the coming of Christ, since the form of enlightenment was spiritual, a returning to God.  We can thus see the hand of providence in Hinduism and Buddhism, but as yet in veiled mythological terms, that by default was identified as the reality. 

The coming of God into human history in Jesus Christ upset all the apple-carts of mythology, because here was an historical figure claiming God as his father, and in no uncertain terms his equality with his father, 'My father and I are one'  (John 10:30).  Yet, events that were the stuff of mythology, inexplicable in scientific terms, distinguished the life of Jesus from that of a normal man or teacher.  Jesus was transfigured in the sight of his apostles on Mount Tabor (Matt17:19), he raised Lazarus from the dead (John11:43-46).  But it was the sublimity of his teaching, 'that you love one another as I have loved you'  (Luke 22:1-38) that removed all the esoterism and difficulty of attainment of perfection associated with the mythologies. 

After the death of Jesus, the subsequent documented resurrection and his ascension into heaven were the final events in his historical existence, that for their surreal character, indeed of the nature of mythology, were immediately open to disbelief, despite the continuity achieved by eye-witnesses in the case of his apostles.  At first, the preaching of the gospel was accompanied by miracles, as those of Peter recorded in the Acts of the apostles, but they proved to be ineffectual with the passing of time to sustain a coherent message of salvation.  Heresy and schism, condemned by the parent Church, which saw itself as the true body of Christ on earth, became rampant; and the reflection on the Church was one that sees its consequence even in today's world after centuries have passed.  The Reformation, and the Enlightenment of science spearheaded by the likes of Galileo and Descartes (both whom believed in God), saw the dwindling influence of the Church and  the supernatural; though in the life of the Catholic church miracles continued to be a sign of Christ's presence, but, as it were, to the initiated, an internal affair: to wit the appearances of Our Lady (so termed) at Fatima and Lourdes, completely ignored by the outside world as it pressed on with its own agenda of reality, scientific or religio-mythological.  It is as though the possibility of denial was its own evidence of credibility.  So you could choose to believe anything, even whether God existed or not.

In time, Christianity had become a culture, and alienated itself from other established cultures, evidenced in the continuing Hindu culture, for example, and of course, the culture of Islam.  In today's world, the culture of science pervades all societies, and it is the one that denies everything not evidenced by data.  As I stated previously, the shortfall of science is that it has no answer to what ultimately provides the data; it chooses to ignore the cause, bury its head in the sand, and merely observes what goes on below in terms of 'evolution' and 'natural selection' - words that imply an intelligent cause, yet denied because not observed.  A belief in God resolves this anomaly, simply by stating that it is by the power of God that evolution and natural selection occur;  at least this is a rational viewpoint, counterstating the irrational self-satisfied limitation of science even in the selection of  the said terms.

As to the oneness of enlightenment, to come back to our original point, there can be no doubt: it would be a contradiction in terms to moot otherwise.  One discerns how all forms of enlightenment, such as we see in fixed forms in the world of religions and science, are contextually realised, in the life of a society.  Thus enlightenment for primal man was in the context of his life, and formative of a religious culture, possibly perceived by 'more enlightened' folk as superstition, even delusion.  There is therefore the necessity of a life context to reveal the form of enlightenment that in turn creates a culture, as for example in the case of science.  Though enlightenment by definition can only be one in essence.
R D Ashby
08/16/2010

You seem to be very sensitive to slight shift of nuances and semantics. Consciously I don’t believe in the existence of God, though my friends don’t agree with me. They think I am a firm believer and extremely religious man. I don’t find any use arguing with them. Enlightenment – to me – is a relative term; you cannot squeeze it in a water-tight compartment. Christian enlightenment is not the same as Buddhist enlightenment, as I understand. That is why I wrote in my article, “light thus shown doesn’t enlighten every other body’.

 

I fully agree with you that conditioning can be de-conditioned. There may be cases it gets eroded with the passage of time or b y conscious effort it is eliminated.

 

Darwin’s theory of evolution is in direct conflict with religious beliefs of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. It doesn’t collide with the views of Buddhists and Jainis. In general science is a big rival to religion. There are scientists believing in God, even Einstein did. And there are common men not believing in God. But belief remains a personal matter without affecting the outer world.

 

It is also agreed that the world is becoming more complex day by day. It will continue inexorably with greater impetus in the future. I am skeptical about arresting the ongoing complexity by believing in God from a ‘rational standpoint’. The particular individuals – taking refuge in religion -- may feel insulated and safe from the turmoil of unpleasant complexity, that’s all. I couldn’t understand what is meant by “formulation to break the spell of scientific jargon”. Scientific concepts are not hermetically sealed – they are open and flexible easily ingesting any new findings in its fold. Religion is static and science is dynamic.   I don’t believe the onward march of science can be reversed.

 

In the end every individual has freedom of choice to pick from a variety of belief systems available in the world. My contention is that, none is absolute.

 

nmutsuddi
08/14/2010
Thanks once again for your gracious compliments.  Enlightenment is a gift from God, I think we'll both agree.  You say you are 'in total darkness' yet you make statements that must be in your view enlightened, or else they mean nothing.  For example, conditioning as determining one's personal belief.  In this respect, conditioning is something that can be reversed: this is particularly apparent in the modern world where the centuries old conditioned belief in the role of Christianity in what were Christian countries has been adversely affected by science, particularly since Darwin's view on the origin of species that debunked a biblical Creator God.  So please don't assume that a conditioned state is something immutable.  In fact, science, in its pursuit of the true nature of reality, is the new religion for many who had previously been conditioned to believe in God, and now are conditioned to believe in science.  However, there are those, like myself, who find that science reinforces faith in God, not because of religious conditioning, but because science has limitations revealed primarily in its method and the use of language, for example, terms like 'evolution' and 'natural selection' that in Cartesian fashion are observations with no dimensionality of cause:  evolution is observed from the data, and because the data shows no sign of God's hand, it is left at that, and as a bonus, God is eliminated from the proceedings.  So we have an incredibly complex system of life generation in all its various forms just happening by itself according to science, no questions asked, no incongruence perceived.  The solution to this is a link to God the creator which must be there even from a rational standpoint, but which must be formulated to break the spell of scientific jargon.  Faith fulfills this rational standpoint, since science is exposed as deficient in its hermetically sealed terminology, and which explains continuing religious belief in God.
rdashby
08/12/2010
I fully agree my knowledge is highly superficial. I will never claim to be thorough in anything. The thing here is that you are conditioned in your belief system and I am in mine. It is something like this: a devout Christian will never agree with the Hindu view of 'rebirth' and a Hindu in the resurrection of the dead on the final day, leave aside God, spirit or any such thing. Still, the world is moving and the society is existing. You are spiritually highly enlightened and I am in total darkness. Surely, the discussion is stimulating and it is a great delight. I hope some good dose of spirituality will get rubbed off on me in due course.Thanks.
nmutsuddi
08/09/2010
Thanks for the gracious sentiments in your opening line.   Though you express it most ariculately,  I'm afraid your opinion is superficial, to the degree that it observes nature and calls it natural, a circular argument: you must really ask what makes nature;  like most scientists you rest content with the appearances of nature and natural events and leave it at that.  In fact, something operates nature, and that something is spirit, though the substance of natural form is of divine power.  For example, a man uses materials to construct a car: once the car is built, it is not his will that keeps it in existence, but the power of the creator; likewise, nature is moved by spirits but the sustaining of what is moved is by divine power.  Only in the belief in spirits can nature and natural events be explained as to occurence. 

Secondly, your assertion that nature is self-operational is expressed with certitude.  Certitude is a spiritual realisation and already bespeaks a spiritual influence.  In other words, spirits actually influence our opinions,  as in the case of primal man. 
rdashby
08/09/2010
Welcome Mr Ashby, it's a pleasure to have a discussion with you. It really stimulates.

It is agreed that ‘in primal religion, spirits are perceived to move and pervade all phenomena and things’. But, even if a question is asked now, ‘how primal man could perceive spirits in nature’, or ‘where he gets the notion of spirits from’, I don’t think a conclusive answer – agreeable to all --   can be found. According to me, the most deceptive notion, perpetuating since primordial to modern times, is the belief that some spirit, power or whatever is controlling the nature. In fact, nothing is controlling or being controlled in nature. The nature is, as it is, with no beginning and end. Whatever is constant in nature is the ‘change’. And that happens in normal natural course. The notion of ‘power’ controlling the nature is nothing but imagination. However, it is the most difficult notion to conceive and digest. It can be compared with the analogy of a small tea cup trying to measure the volume of the ocean. Here the human arrogance or vanity overwhelms his rationality.   He forgets that, it is beyond his capacity to understand all this.

 

The idea of ‘cause and effect’ is proscribed by human limitation. Its range is very narrow

 

Personally I don’t agree that, “the primal man knew he was fooling himself, yet he persisted in doing what he knew was false”. Instead, he believed whatever he knew was absolute truth and nothing but truth. That is what is happening even today.

 

It is difficult, for me, to accede to,” primal man had contact with real spirits, through the medium of realization” etc. It could, at best, be only ‘hallucination’.

N.M

nmutsuddi
08/08/2010
What is extraordinary is that in primal religion spirits are perceived to move and pervade all phenomena and things.  The question is never asked how primal man could perceive spirits in nature.  The answer is that it is not a decision or choice of primal man that he discerns spirits, nor is it a rational deduction in his mind that spirits exist, for this would entail a prior knowledge of spirits; but if it must be asked where he gets the notion of spirits from, it is in direct communication with the spirit world that actually controls nature.  This is compatible with his subsequent efforts to manifest and appease these powerful spirits through his imagination. The seriousness of the exercise of coming to terms with spirits is underestimated by those who summarily say it's all  in the imagination.   This is tantamount to saying that primal man knew he was fooling himself, yet he persisted in doing what he knew was false - which is not a survival ploy on which his life might depend.  In a word, primal man had contact with real spirits, through the medium of realisation, which in certitude of knowing he commenced to manifest their presence and to appease their powers as he best knew in ritual and sacrifice, the precise form of the latter being determined by their efficacy, so that they became standard practice.

rdashby
08/07/2010
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