A Humbling Lesson in Spirituality

The reason why you can never have it all figured out.

The world is divided by the concept of religion.

While one camp consists of devoutly religious people, the other has radical atheists who firmly reject all concepts that cannot be explained by scientific processes. There is also the third camp of confused folks who flock from being very religious one day to cynical, non-believers the next.

I have always been a part of the last one.

The years I was an atheist, I laughed at folks who had faith in the intangible. Then I would switch to the other team and think I had it all figured out. But neither satisfied me for too long.

I felt religion was failing to grasp the magnitude of the Divine by trying to neatly box it into humanoid figures and ways of life. And atheism was shutting itself off from the unexplained wonders of the world because it got disillusioned by all the suffering in the world.

Nothing rang true with me. Everything felt like propaganda. Almost as if these institutions were hell bent on making me see how right they were and how stupid and ignorant I was.

That’s why what I learnt today blew my mind with its humility.

What was the Original Intent of Religion?

Humanity has always asked questions like — “Why are we here?” and “What is the meaning of life?”. We have always wondered our place in the world, and how we fit in the grand scheme of things (if there is even a grand scheme). And we have despaired when there were no clear answers. No wonder the suicide rate among philosophers is so high!

This need to answer existential questions gave birth to religion. Its sole purpose was to bring people together, build trust in the community, breed unity, answer abstractions as best as it could, and give people hope before they spiraled into despair.

And it did a good job for quite a while…until the conquests began.

As explorers found new lands, and ambitious kings sent out armies to add more to their holdings, religion evolved along with this changing society.

It was still about bringing people together. But now it was employing force.

Propaganda emerged and religion was corrupted. What was once a safe harbor to find unity and refuge from existential crisis, became a weapon to tell people how stupid they were and why [insert religion] had it all figured out.

How did we arrive at this?

The Paradox of Spirituality

Religion says [the Source] is infinite, and then tells you, “We know what it truly is”.

But if something is truly infinite, how can we expect to wrap our puny minds around it? If we could have done that (like some totalitarian religions believe they have), wouldn’t that automatically prove the Source is finite?

So we cannot really perceive the whole.

That means, whatever stories religion sells you is not really true. How can it be if we are incapable of understanding infinity?

But we still experience spirituality in odd ways —

We feel it during meditative states. When we look into a stranger’s eyes and feel as if we have known them forever (which is really weird). When we see the world around us and wonder how in this vast life-less Universe Earth managed to create such biodiversity and awesomeness.

We have all experienced things we cannot explain, and then found others who have experienced the same. The magnitude of this is both awe-inducing and crisis-inducing. Regardless, when we connect, we feel we have “finally” uncovered the truth.

This is the paradox of spirituality — understanding something that is not understandable.

Are we fools then to believe we have figured it all out? Or are we simply understanding fractured bits of the Source, which in itself is true, yet is not the complete picture?

I don’t have those answers yet. But what I learnt today humbled me.

Embrace Your Child-like Curiosity

Life is not finite. It meanders through unknowable lanes, and throws us weird curve-balls along the way. That means, we can be only sure of one thing: We can’t be sure of anything at all.

Being curious is the only solution. It is that one act that unites people —

It unities scientists to discard outdated theories and establish new ones based on recent discoveries. And it unites spiritualists to discard their rigid thoughts and connect even deeper with the Source through new experiences.

Curiosity is the safe harbor in this vast unknowable Universe. And the only way you can keep despair at bay.

That’s my lesson for today: Be curious and keep learning.

What’s yours?

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