Sep 21, 2023
Sep 21, 2023
by T. A. Ramesh
Based on experience and knowledge the system we follow to live in love with good manners and morality can simply be called as culture which includes love of Nature, music and books cherished in humanism aiming perfection in thoughts, words and deeds.
Even civilization without the basis of culture is unreliable. That is why modern civilization has made human life to proceed in fear and anxiety in the performance of things, increased dangerous diseases deadly hazardous to health and driven the world to the brink of savagery and destruction.
Religion may make a cultured person a divine being but culture teaches tolerance, patience, hospitality and unity in diversity and converts a brute into a human being because of its humanism which is what most needed today in the world
Religion is all about the creative evolution of man meant for the general guidance of all with moral code of conduct to be followed for total salvation in life. It is a system of faith and worship of God. It shows the means to reach divine hood from manhood and solve all the problems on the way thereby. In short the functions of religion are to give peace, education and knowledge of life and culture to achieve everything in order to make human life a complete one.
Religion is all about human faith, the up gradation of human nature from the animal nature to the divine nature and the spiritual realization of the Self and God. Human faith comes of the personal knowledge of the realization of and the feeling of God. Faith without such realization is not real but a blind one which is leading towards superstition only. Superstition is a misleading thing and is always not dependable for the development of man's self in any way in life.
Truth and Love
All the religions of the world though called by different names like Hindu, Christian, Islam, Buddhism, Zion, etc. preach about the same things like discipline, unity, brotherhood, truth, love and peace and among these, Truth and Love are the most precious things of human values which are really helpful to bring out the divinity in every human being. And that is why religious philosophers say that Truth is God and religious persons say that Love is God.
Religion, Science and Politics
The German philosopher Max Mueller says that religion is the practical form of philosophy and philosophy is the rational form of religion. So, religion is concerned with the feeling, heart and spirit whereas philosophy is concerned with the reason, mind and intellect. The Scientist Albert Einstein also says that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The political sage Gandhi has shown to the world that politics can be made more effective and fruitful with moral values like Truth, Non-Violence and simplicity as the basic means to achieve political ends. Therefore great men have proved that great things can be achieved in the public life of the world through religion.
On the other side, religion has done great harm to mankind by means of religious conversions. In the name of religion there were and are so many wars in the world. In the Middle Ages the Crusaders waged war with many countries in the name of Christianity, conquered and converted many European countries into Christianity and established a Christian empire with the Roman Catholic Church having full control over them for about eight centuries. Then in Africa and Asian States too there were religious domination by both Muslim and Christian conquerors. Even today there are wars between Jewish Israel and Islamic Arab countries, Protestant and Catholic Christians in Ireland, Muslims and Christians in Lebanon, the Shias and Sunnis of Islamic communities of Iran and Iraq on sharing of river water and communal fights among various religious groups of the people of India and so on. So, what is the best way to solve these religious disputes, disparities and problems?
One God and Tolerance
The solution lies in adopting the best things common to all religions as the best means to overcome these crises. The common things are faith in one God though called by different names like Allah, Jesus and Krishna and love in the relationship of human beings. Faith in one God is not a difficult matter to practice. But to practice love with everyone is an impossible thing. For, we can love only intimates, friends and dear fellow men and not all. So, in public the best thing to do is to practise tolerance like E.M. Forster or non-violence or ahimsa like M.K. Gandhi which is the civilized way by which religious disparities can be solved and peace, unity and brotherhood can be established in the world. And as far as religion is concerned that is the way to follow human culture in life.
Of all the religions, Buddhism only does not talk about God but about morality and human life only. The Old Testament of the Bible common both for the Christians and the Muslims but the New Testament of Jesus Christ is followed by the Christians and the Koran of Mohammed is followed by the Muslims. Christianity and Islam are other worldly, preparing the people for the death and for the present or single life only, whereas Hinduism is for this world and the other world preparing both for the life and the death and for the various lives of the future too till the cycle of births and deaths is completed. Hindu religion because of its vast scope can be called as the universal religion talks about Dharma, natural or eternal order or Law of Nature, Duty, theory of Karma and Liberation, the achievement of absoluteness. Christian religion says that all the men of the world are sinners and their salvation lies only with Jesus Christ and Islam says that Allah is the only God and Mohammed is the last prophet superseding all the messengers of God to be obeyed, whereas Hindu religion which is not a strict one has choice for all the people of the world.
Gita and Buddhism
The expression of the greatest development of human knowledge can be found in the Buddhism and the Bhagavad-Gita of India. Indeed the greatness of India lies in its religion, philosophy, literature and culture and what is not in them is nowhere to be found in the world. Buddhism is just a corollary or a branch of Hindu religion meant for all and the common people because of its crystal clear, simple and easily follow-able nature. Buddhism says that desire is the root cause for all the problems, miseries, sufferings and the cycle of births and deaths in the world. Non-attachment should be followed to overcome desire; meditation has to be done often to get enlightenment and wisdom; and love should be shown to all. As far as love is concerned Christianity seems to be only a corollary of Buddhism. Then the way to overcome the cycle of births and deaths and the duties and sufferings connected with them has to be found and followed individually till perfection and purity are achieved to attain Nirvana or serenity of soul or salvation or total liberation.
It is well known that everyone is born for a noble cause. So, everyone has to be noble in thoughts, words and deeds. But what could be that noble cause? God is the all pervading spirit, the Universal Spirit, the Universal Consciousness activating everything everywhere with infinite power eternally. Everything starts from and ends with this infinite power which has no beginning and no end, which is immanent and transcendental, and absolute and independent but everything within is finite, temporary, imperfect and interdependent with one another. Of all the creations man only seems to be exceptional, rational and unique. So, man's beginning must be in God and therefore man's end should also be in God only. Because of this noble cause not only man has to be noble in mind, heart and soul but also has to lead noble life and finally embrace God nobly. If he is not so, he has to make himself so by practice and fulfill his destiny with full realization.
Nothing is non-perishable, permanent and real in the world, Nature and Universe. Even the human body, youth, beauty and strength are all not permanent and cannot give peace and happiness forever. Therefore attachment to materials, land, ladies, name, fame, power and position should be curtailed. The mind should be purified and kept free from the evils such as desire, jealousy, lust, anger, fear, etc. For everything is illusion and nothing is real, imperishable, permanent and eternal except the soul or the atman or the inner spirit which is the part and parcel of the all pervading spirit. Meditation should be done often in the thought of God, the infinite power of eternity. That is the way to overcome illusion and reach reality.
In short, the policy of non-attachment should be followed in life by doing duty according to one's dharma so that likes and dislike, profit and loss, etc. can be met with the same state of mind which helps human existence to be stable. This type of life is called the life of yoga. Bhagavad-Gita advocates mainly four types of yoga that are 1. Yoga of Knowledge, 2. Yoga of Devotion, 3. Yoga of Duty and 4. Yoga of Concentration. A person living such a mode of life will be calm, unruffled and balanced in mind even in adverse situations, trying circumstances and times of predicament. Next, real knowledge should be gained by intellectual thought that is as steady as the Sun for proper guidance in life. Then the enjoyment of life should be based on non-attachment and real knowledge. After that only it is possible to relinquish all the earned best things for the posterity and commune with the all pervading spirit spiritually to become one with the absolute at the end.
God and Immortality
For Spinoza, God is everywhere; and everything is within this power. The Will of God is the same as the Laws of Nature but not God and Nature are one. So, it is good to go according to the Laws of Nature. Mind and matter are inextricably united in such a way that either of them cannot exist without the other and so, both of them are not separate entities. A well informed knowledge or intellect only can help to know when love has to rule and when power has to rule. Of all the things only a good and perfect thought can remain immortal as far as immortality is concerned. There is so much about intellectual knowledge from Spinoza that they are really thought provoking and useful forever.
After the birth of the Earth, man has evolved from the smallest of small single life cell. After the evolution of man no other creature greater than man has evolved. According to Sri Aurobindo after the physical evolution, evolution of the mind is going on in man and after the mental evolution, evolution of the spirit will take place in man. With the evolution the spirit man will reach the divine hood and will lead the divine life, he envisaged.
Though we are not aware perhaps the people like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, etc. who have reached divine hood and living divine life must be existing somewhere in the world just waiting for the time to achieve successfully moksha. So, by the attainment of intellectual knowledge it is an acceptable fact that divinity is already involved in the evolution of man. Therefore the incarnation of God in the form of human being descending of formless infinite power into the form of finite being to lead the people to moksha or liberation is unthinkable, unimaginable and an illusion.
True Knowledge of God
Sankara asks what use it is worrying about liberation without having true knowledge of God. Before anything knowledge is very, very important. Without knowledge it is impossible even to know God. Provided with the intellect of Sankara and the loving heart of Buddha, Swami Vivekananda says that it is certainly possible to introduce Sankara’s philosophy of Advaita [Monotheism] as the Universal religion as it has all the necessary ingredients in it to clarify all kinds of doubts, satisfy and guide all types of people in the world. God is everything everywhere, imminent, transcendental, Ultimate Reality, Truth, Love, Absolute, perfect, independent and infinite though called by many names and worshipped in many forms under many religions.
Dependence and Independence
All the matters in the Universe including Nature, World and man are in the imperfect and incomplete state and not only are they involved in the process of evolution towards perfection and absoluteness but also inter-dependent with one another. Though Time, Space, Matter and causation look to be different independent things they are all interdependent with one another. By the finite nature of man everything looks to be separate and independent and illusion only. Interdependence is the law of the whole Universe while independence is the nature of the Absolute only. Therefore Time, Space, Matter and causation which are in the chaotic state are interdependent but all the matters put together in order provides completeness, perfection or Absoluteness. Infinity is perfect comparable to a colourless glass whereas finiteness is imperfect comparable to different shades of colour. It is the same for man also. Man is in the process of evolution. But, by his own efforts, if he completes the process of evolution, Man certainly can achieve freedom, immortality, absoluteness and infinity.
More by : T. A. Ramesh