Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Your Destiny in Your Hands. Really?

How many of us have seen people wearing rings with stones of green, blue, magenta, etc? Or know family people fasting on Tuesday, Thursday or any of the other five days? I bet a lot will have positive replies to this. I find myself often asking one question. Is this hypocrisy?
A lot of people wear it to avoid having a bad spell on their life or to have a reduced effect of a bad spell. Some wear it to improve their current life. Some have a reason that because they did all these things, things are not as bad as they could have been. Others will do it to have a better health, to help the couple procreate; succeed in their academics, etc. The list can go on and on. Maybe you can add on some as well. I am not being sarcastic here. And it is not like life’s always been rosy and smooth for me. In fact, it has been after going through those potholes (some really huge ones) that I think on these lines.
Now the thought of why I consider this hypocrisy. The Holy book of Hindus is called Geeta. One of the biggest and better known preaching of the Geeta is that ‘Do your own duty. And in return, do not think of the fruit (outcome).’ I believe that this contradicts with the wearing of rings, some necklaces, fasting, etc. In this case, you are fasting, wearing some stones, etc, to get a desired outcome. Does this not mean you are not doing what the Geeta teaches you? One is performing an action or duty (fasting, wearing stones, in this case), precisely to get a particular outcome (something that you really want).
This not only makes me think that the two thoughts have different approaches, but also tells me about faith. Those who believe in the Higher power will have faith in His decisions. And not try to manipulate that. Whenever things don’t go too well, we are told, “Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.” This once again contradicts what one says, and what one does. We are told to “Have faith in your own self”. If we do, then why let a stone or a particular day influence that? I agree that particular days are meant for specific deities and stones for some other purpose, but what religious book tells you to do these things? And how will doing so change the course of your life?
If one is doing it for their own satisfaction, that’s fine. But then few will admit to that. This may seem like a strong article, but this was something I’ve been thinking for sometime now, and am now putting it across. I hope not to offend anyone’s feelings with this.

Religion and Spirituality

I was at Barnes and Noble (a bookstore, a couple of years back, looking at some books. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of the employees to help me find books on spirituality. He took me to the isle that had books on religion and showed me several books on Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, etc. I told him I was looking for books on spirituality and not religion. To which he said, “This is all we have here.” After some time, I did find a few books on spirituality. This incident made me think of how people may confuse spirituality and religion. But the two are actually really different things. It also means different things to different people.
Over the last ten or eleven years, I’ve developed an inclination for spirituality. And have also seen how it has helped me. To be more clear, by spirituality I do not mean going to the temple regularly and reciting a long list of prayers. I have seen that meditation helps, especially over a longer period of time. Connecting with your inner self, knowing who you really are, what you are as a person helps. Just watching your breath, and keeping your eyes closed is so helpful. One can start meditation that way. This is spirituality to me - Connecting to the Higher Being through your inner self.
There was an Indian religious festival a couple of months back. In way of conversation, I was told that even early in the morning, there were so many devotees in the temple that day. And was told, “Seems like a lot of people are turning to spirituality.” So I said that, just because you go to a temple, doesn’t make you spiritual. You could be religious, and so, may go to the temple. In way of conversation, the person felt that you do need to go to a temple in order to be spiritual. This is where my point of view differed. My quest for spirituality began at a friend’s place. And over the years, I’ve found myself meditating in the living room of my house, on a lazy Saturday when am just lying in bed, or in the bus when am going to work. And this has been the case for other people also.
This doesn’t mean that visiting a temple is not needed to connect with your spiritual self. Different things work for different people. It could be that people need to go to a temple for connecting with the Higher Being. Silence works for people like me. And so temples usually don’t help, where there are lots of people, talking about things, meeting others, etc.
One technique that I have found useful to meditate – sitting, sleeping or standing, is to touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your fingers one-by-one. If possible, close your eyes. If not, it is fine to leave them open. When you touch the finger tips with the tip of the thumb, and press very gently, you’ll feel your pulse. Feel your pulse on all four finger tips. And as you do that, transition to following your breath. And then visualize any image that calms you or makes you happy. See how it goes. Do it whenever you want, whenever you find the time and inclination for it.