Why Religion ?
Religion originated as a form of nature worship by our ancient ancestors to appease the unknown power running the universe. It became a psychological protective shield and a form of defence for them , against the fear and threat arising from their lack of understanding of environmental phenomena and natural calamities. Gradually , man’s understanding and intelligence evolved and civilisation came into being. The origin of societies brought along the issues of morality , ethics and discipline to ensure smooth functioning of social institutions. Religion quietly transitioned into the role of taming and mentoring individuals into virtuous citizens. Fear of the unknown got replaced by fear of punishment for evil deeds.
If we look at the major religions being practiced in the world , the emerging pattern would compel us to take a revised look at religion. Most religions , gradually donned the mantle of ordinary institutions. As time passed, they degenerated and mostly served as a tool of some vested interest or the other. The essence and the principles on which modern religions were founded got buried under the ever expanding frills, form , complicated rules , rituals and ceremonies.
Thus religion became a means of exploitation of ignorant masses at the hands of its custodians rather than a tangible means of succour for the suffering humanity. Its role as a spiritual guiding force became a far cry. Exclusivity associated with certain religions created dichotomy amongst people. Atrocities committed in the name of religion put a question mark on its veracity and relevance. Forcible conversions and fanaticism annulled its universal appeal as an instrument of spiritual evolution.
It is only fair to ask, did we actually need religion ? Couldn’t we have done better by just practicing the all inclusive religion of humanity ? A. secular fraternal society comprising of citizens , taught to be truthful, fair, just and compassionate would have worked just as well. A simple , purposeful and transparent life rather than the one lost in an ostentatious rigmarole of religion. Why the need for loud public display of religiosity unless it is an attempt to ease an insecure guilt ridden conscience. Can religion in its contemporary form serve as an effective tool for spiritual growth ? Or can it at least bring together a strife torn humanity living in the shadow of terrorism and a threat of nuclear war ?
When one actually embarks on the path to spiritual understanding , religion and its trappings seem to become expendable. The object of worship needs to be relocated from temples , churches and mosques to within ourselves. It should become an intrinsic part of our being dwelled upon at all times and not treated as something extraneous or dissociated from us. And then we just need to turn inwards to know who we are.To understand our place and purpose in the universe. Do our best in the given situation. Take responsibility for our actions and reach out to others with love and compassion. Live by need and avoid greed. Respect nature.
Being in touch with the inner sanctum bathes us in childlike innocence and bliss. It makes us whole and serves as a beacon in whose light we think , make choices , act and accept life , unaffected by good or bad , right or wrong, praise or blame. It will create an enormous space within us , overflowing with divine love and ready to embrace all creation. This much and you won’t have to scream ‘O God ! ‘to the skies. God is within you and like Abou Ben Adhem you are well on your way to being His most favourite child.