Friday, September 17, 2010

The Spirit of Spiritualism.

“From one viewpoint, religion can be seen as sort of a luxury. If you have religion, that’s good, but even without it you can manage and survive - but we can't survive without human affection. While anger and hatred, like compassion and love, are part of our mind, I still believe the dominant forces are compassion and affection. Therefore, usually I refer to these human qualities as spirituality.”….His holiness Dalai Lama on facebook (Sunday July 18th 2010.)
I think I understand faith, why does a string tied on your wrist protect you against all evils? It does because you think so. No that is an understatement “you firmly believe so”. The effectiveness of the string is proportional to the faith. I have a string tied to my car steering too, and believe that my car is protected. I was told this faith story by Mr. Ramni, a long time back, it goes like this:
After two years of drought, the villagers (in a village) decided to have the great rain god, ritual - worship. It was said that just as the rites of the worship ends it shall rain heavily. A huge crowd had gathered as it always happens on important occasions. However on this particular day it did not rain after the rites were over. Why?
The wise man said “It did not rain because none of the villagers in the crowd save a little child carried any umbrella.” Only a child’s faith isn’t good enough to end this drought he added..
A long time back, when I was a medical representative (yea that I was) my job was to discuss “common products” as innovative products to doctors. I often showed doctors results of double blind clinical trials (none done in India though) where the composition was found to be more effective than other drugs and placebo. In most of these trials Placebo had an efficacy of 30% some times 40%. I found this amazing. How do sugar pills or other such material used as placebo work. I am sure if you took sugar pills to cure your headache it will not be cured 40% of the time or even 40 %.
A word about double blind trials: These are conducted on volunteer patients in very well equipped hospitals. The drugs are coded and kept a secret till the end or revealed only in case condition of a patient deteriorates. The key is that patents have faith that they are in good hands and all shall become well. So if faith can make a non-drug, give drug-like result, isn’t faith the all important thought process for mankind.
How does one have faith? By falling in love of course, with god, with a person, a craft just about anything.. Meerabai thought the poison was prasadam from Lord Krishna and so it became. To me faith is the most important step towards spiritualism. The spirit of spiritualism is faith.
Devotion is a relationship of faith and love to a very personal god. Is faith a sort of hypnotic state? It sure is. When Dronacharya asked Arjun what he saw of the bird (that was kept for arrow shooting practice) Arjun had to be hypnotized to be able to see “just the black of the eye” .and in the process miss the smell of sweets being cooked nearby. Bhim did not miss the whiff of sweets; he missed the bird’s eye though.
All of us, (I certainly do), have a problem of integration to belong to a purpose. Our life is what our soul decides. The soul is huge because it can think while the body is only so much. The computer could be a great analogy the soft ware being its soul. The soul can make or unmake a person, it give us wisdom to decide the means to the ends of this life. We humans need regular reminders that we are essentially a creation of god a hence a part of the concept of god.
It is said that when wisdom comes ignorance goes. When ignorance goes faith dawns…. and what of Science? Is science wisdom or just knowledge? Where does faith fit in it?
Science and the arts, (humanities is a better expression as it already tells you that it’s humanly) are the means and the ends. Humanities being the end. The means are often exciting, attractive and make us overlook the ends of life. The ideas of Right and Wrong do not belong to Science or the means of life – it must belong to Humanities around which our happiness ultimately depends.
The odd thing about faith is One cannot “not have faith” just like one cannot have vacuum in the open. Something goes and occupies that space. So if you must have faith in something good and substantial. Otherwise your faith would be in things that could be detrimental to you and the society. Here in comes the role of Parenting.

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