"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.” Albert Einstein
It is so much nicer to talk of beautiful things that exist on our lovely planet that it is really a pity that I had to write this post that touches on something that to me is evil. Nevertheless I have written it because if an evil is ignored it is difficult to eradicate it. The evil I am referring to is about the denial of freedom of belief and imposition of beliefs on people and that is something even the followers of the greatest of religions on earth have not been free of though they have done so much good besides contributing to much human progress.
Recently when I quoted a link to a blog post on the sad demise of a billionaire in India to some friends in an email, in response to a mention of this billionaire, a friend responded that he would like to challenge the mention of some of my spiritual beliefs mentioned in that post.
Just so that no misunderstanding is created, this reference is not to anyone who has commented in this blog but to someone else who interacts through a private email group. I have encountered similar persistence earlier too, not just in the spiritual arena but by crooked politicians out to snatch bread from mouth of people to enrich themselves and family, sales persons from diverse areas such as insurance and a world wide multi-level marketing group, and as is usual with such sales persons both spiritual and others, they sing praises of their chosen paths and enumerate the great benefit they have received. Since I am old enough, I often find the same persons on a completely different track or situation some years later.
It is easy to recognize bad from good but evil is far more difficult to recognize at times because evil can be subtle and devious. When one recognizes it and sees it coming ones way then it should be repelled with full force and all the contempt it deserves.
Thus whereas one recognizes cruel and violent acts as bad as opposed to kind and compassionate ones, stealing as bad and giving to one in need as good, being truthful as good and lying as bad, evil is not always recognized easily. One form of evil is the imposition of one’s belief on another by force, coercion or pressurizing. Over persistence in trying to rub in a belief is also a form of pressuring and coercion. Freedom of belief is inherent in any form of true spirituality just as love is and trying to impinge on this freedom is one of the worst forms of evil there is. When God or the Universe has granted all life the freedom to choose how can anything genuine about Him lack in that freedom?
|Saint Kabir, the Blessed Weaver|
With imposition of belief there can be no true conviction and without conviction no true faith. However, aside from imposition there is something that is far more evil and that includes brain washing as used by some. One may wonder why such evil exists in an area that is inherently meant for good. The reason is that evil looks for areas of human need and exploits that to satisfy its own need. Thus we have the frequent occurrence of fraud and evil in the spiritual area because the need for solace becomes acute when humans get into misery. Most people need money that is why there are so many financial scams around. When people are in legal and medical need the need may be acute and then we see the emergence of exploitation in those areas by unscrupulous or greedy practitioners for financial gain.
The question then occurs as to how a genuine seeker should safeguard him self or her self? The first thing one can do is check out on the state of other followers if possible. Look for signs of imposition of belief and brain washing. Brain washing proceeds by trying to empty your mind of reason and existing belief that you may have acquired from honorable sources. Some forms of brain washing require time, and a cult may ask you to commit to a training program with the promise of not leaving in between, comparing the leaving to a patient leaving a doctors table in the middle of surgery. But spiritual learning is not surgery where the ends justify the means of forcefully tying down or drugging a patient. Good spirituality is freedom all the way through and one should immediately reject and run the moment it is detected as an evil thing.
In the ultimate analysis there is no need to go to a teacher, church or cult for spiritual knowledge. God and His knowledge is all around you if you just open your heart to it and Amazon is full of good books on the topic by upright decent authors if one wishes to read about it and explore the beliefs of others in the area.
Immediately someone may find a word to challenge in the last paragraph,
"How do you know there is God? I oppose that belief."
My answer to that in many of my blog posts is,
"Dear friend you have nothing to oppose because neither have you defined what your God is ( the One in which you do not believe) nor asked what my definition of God is; if you tell me what you mean by God then I might say if I believe or not believe in your concept of God.. On the other hand, if you wish to hear of my definition of God then it is this – To me God is everything there is, the entire Universe and everything else besides, therefore He is everywhere (using He for convenience)." One can scarcely deny the universe but it is one's choice if one wishes to deny the universe because then one does not exist.
True, that it is impossible for a near infinitely small finite mind (on a universal scale) such as mine, to understand God fully and all His doings, but I perceive an infinity all around me and see this Infinity as Him and believe that if there is anything else besides Him in the universe it is within given limits the ignorance, finite desires and individual thoughts etc. of us all i.e things that keep us apart. At the same time that is what makes the evolutionary journey of life so challenging and exciting because what better measure of evolutionary progress can there be than enhancing knowledge of the self and its place in the universe?
My mother's name was Nand Rani Sahni and later Nand Rani Malhotra after marriage. While she lived, she was one of the finest humans on the planet and I can say that without bias. I have been extremely fortunate in this department of life (although not so in many others). She was also a very good mother, as indeed most mothers are. As a child, I hardly understood her but the fact that she was there and that she loved us was a source of warmth, security and joy. The fact of her love was far more important than the fact that we did not know her fully as no child can know a grown up fully. Now that I am much older, more important than the fact that I know God fully is the fact that He is there and that He loves us. It is a source of warmth, security and joy. A mother's love is just one channel through which humans receive this love. There are numerous other ones like sunshine and the very air we breathe. Therefore I am not even opposed to those who seek to approach the Infinite through finite entities such as the symbols, sun, enlightened beings, gods and goddesses just as long as they realize the Infinite Whole of which all is a part.
One significant way in which the Lord interacts with us is through the hidden mysterious hand that comes to our aid in times of our deepest distress and need in our lives, so well hidden that we are left wondering if it is merely an uncanny coincidence. It is as if a loving and concerned mother is keeping a secret watch on her infant child as he frees himself from her bosom and ventures into the garden to play all by himself, yet soon as trouble strikes, she runs out to him even as he call out to mama.
Whereas all perceive the physical visible aspects of the Universe, some ascertain a bit more such as the force of gravity and few guess at things they call dark matter and energy; and a few even the special angels that dwell within it and serve the Lord, few can perceive the personal and conscious side of it. Yet, just as a human through his or her service, love or devotion can succeed in establishing a relationship with the most important and generally inaccessible human personality on earth, seeing them constantly in their doings and having the possibility of communicating with them at any time through internet, phone or person, there are beings of the universe who have succeeded in doing the same with the most important Personality of the universe and see Him constantly in His Signs. This is depicted beautifully in the well known story called ‘Foot Prints in the Sand’ where one such person, one of many, inquired from the Lord,
“Lord, as I journey through these slippery sands of life, I see beside me a second set of foot prints at all times, Yours; but there have been times of joy when I was lost in play and failed to notice them; and times of deep distress when I looked for them in desperation but could not find them; I was so alone yet there was nothing but a single set of foot prints, why is that my Lord?”
And the Lord spoke to him in his heart,
“Those were times my dear son when I carried you.”
|The Babaji Affair by Dr. Ashok Malhotra|
UPDATE: September 6, 2013 - When persons from around the world turn their gaze towards East and Himalayas for spiritual solace and revelation, they are repeatedly confronted by fraud Gurus i.e. charlatans exploiting religion for making money. It is not very difficult to pick them out. If a Guru is into amassing wealth, either in his name or the name of his trust or if he or she actively campaigns for members to his fold as multilevel marketers do, he is not likely to be the place you are looking for. Yet there are genuine mystics that have sprung up from the bowels of the Himalayas since ancient times even as Buddha did. A recent book by this author - The Babaji Affair - contains the stories of some of them along with the essence of their spiritual knowledge