The Squabble for Religious Affiliation
Earth Day, San Diego, CA, 2011. Walking around Balboa Park, my eyes look upon a myriad of signs, leaflets, and banners, all proclaiming first hand all-exclusive truth. I walk around the bend to see a gruesome display of real-life abortion photographs with shouting Pro-lifers fending themselves off from the Pro-choicers who warn people of the extremists that lie beyond. As I continue to walk through the park, I see familiar big-bellied ex-prisoner looking, militant Born-Agains…
They wear big dark “Terminator” shades, sleeveless T’s, long scruffy beards, and hold signs which inform others of a place called “HELL”, pointing their fingers at anyone who seems not to surrender to their prophetic order and make the cut of “redemption”.
Meanwhile, upset, justice-seeking liberals spew their bleeding-heart rhetoric with the strong conviction of having the one and only ultimate solution; propagating that all religions, beliefs, and lifestyle become “right” simply for the sake of incurring peace, inferring that liberality and tolerance is itself the higher truth of life. They plead with us that objective truths must be ignored if it doesn’t lead to mutual co-gratification of each other’s ideals, if we ever hope to achieve a living utopia under Democratic rule.
CHOOSE YOUR FAITH
It seems like every group wants you to become a member and support their cause, doesn’t it? “Become a feminist, become pro-lifer, become a Christian, become Green, become a democrat, become this, become that, and most importantly become like us…”
But why should we? And more importantly what happens to our life after when we do?
I mean you have to pick ONE right? You have to check all the little boxes next to your correct race, your political views, your stance on certain pressing issues and then ultimately you have to choose only ONE of the boxes for your chosen “faith”, which is basically just one of many different “belief systems” out there, right? This is how religion works in today’s world, doesn’t it?
Isn’t that what religion today is about, just a name-tag on your list of hobbies, another “ism” to throw up on your Facebook page? Put up your cosmetic spiritual affiliation and once the obsequious adulation is done and over, you are able to move on to all of your empirically real needs, interests, and hobbies. This way we avoid feeling guilt by securing ourselves a spiritual insurance policy. You never know, there could always be a slight chance that there is some kind of God who is going to stand before us and judge all of our actions after death. Right?
That is precisely the problem here.
Maybe the crux of the confusion regarding religion today is too much concern with religious affiliation and not actually understanding the philosophies of the religions themselves. It is neither religion nor the diversity thereof that is the source of most conflict; it likely is our denigrated approach to it.
In America today, it is as if we have completely forgotten what place spirituality is supposed to have in the life of a human being. We have taken it out of its proper place to guide us in making important decisions, choosing life values, and more importantly allowing it to serve as an anchor for grounding our everyday lifestyle into a sane, objective reality. Rather, it has become simply a one-day weekend retreat from an otherwise materialistic lifestyle.. Out of such frustration due to a lack of clarity, authenticity, and consistency in the presentation of religion today, most of us have become so frazzled that the liberal view of accepting all paths at once seems quite palatable.
On second hand, personally as much as I like to have a cake, spaghetti, and salad dinner topped-off with a milkshake, I wouldn’t dare to mix them together in one pot and pretend to feel the same satisfaction as seeing them in their original forms as compliments to each other, which is similar to the attempt of New Agers who try to end the perpetual conflict of the fundamentalist orthodoxical religious confusion. This personally doesn’t appeal to me as a viable solution, because there are obvious objective truths that an intelligent person cannot ignore. Therefore, we should be more concerned with developing a conscious awareness of objective truths, and not overly concerned with relative religious affiliations. Ironically, the development of true spiritual understanding could actually make it possible.
“People are encouraged by TV, media, and magazines to be that shallow. They are encouraged to accept religion for name’s sake and spend the rest of our time concentrating on politics, economy, and the American dollar.”
THE CAUSE OF ALL CAUSES
“Krishna” refers to the original cause of all causes. Krishna is the supreme intelligent underlying principle of life that exists within and without everything in this manifested universe. As pearls on a necklace are held together by an unseen thread, all energies in nature are acting and operating according to the direction of a supremely intelligent director. That is the most rudimentary understanding of Krishna Consciousness.
To paint a picture of a rose flower, we have to take a brush, mix the colors on the palate, and exhaust our brain to make the picture look beautiful. But in a garden, you see not only one rose, but thousands of roses blooming and it is like they have been very artistically “painted” by nature. We should go deeper into this daily phenomenon and ask, “What is nature?” Nature is a working instrument. Without some sophisticated energy working, how could the rose bloom so beautifully? There must be energies at work, but it acts so effortlessly and imperceptibly that we cannot see or understand how it is happening.
The energies of life seem to be working alone, but actually there is a cosmic intelligence behind them. When you see a painting, everyone can understand that there was an intelligent living being that was the cause of it. Similarly, a real rose is also worked out by several energies, with an intelligent being as the creative force behind it all. Don’t think that the rose has been created automatically. Nothing is created automatically. The rose is created out of the energies of Krishna, but these energies are so subtle and perfectly composed that a nice flower can bloom overnight. So, Krishna is that brain behind nature’s modus operandi.
Therefore, when we talk of Krishna Consciousness we are talking about an actual educated vision of reality. And speaking of religion and roses, does not a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Does it matter what you call it, as long as the subject under discussion is the same?
We must understand that life is spiritual in nature and not simply chance chemical interactions. Spirit by definition means the animating principle of existence. Now-a-days people use the word to indicate a feeling or belief, as in “I feel spiritual today” or “This belief of mine is a spiritual one”, but spirit by definition refers to that living energy which is responsible for animating the physical body with the symptoms of life.
When the living spirit soul, which is the actual personality and observer, is residing inside a body, the body is called alive. When the living spirit soul leaves the body, which is nothing more than a combination of material elements, the body is called dead. That is the difference between a living body and a dead body. The living force is what we actually are, not a body made of flesh and blood. As long as we reside in this body, it appears to move and is animated, but when the two energies, material and spiritual, become separated it becomes observable as death of the body. The body ceases to subsist in the absence of that superior spiritual energy – the soul.
So, when we say the body is dead, does that mean the actual living entity inside has died? No, it is not possible, the body dies because it is made of matter and all matter goes through the three stages of creation, maintenance, and destruction, but the living spiritual energy is not material and therefore has no beginning and no end, it is eternal in nature.
We are eternal. We are not this body. The essential universal truth that all religions of the world have come to teach us is that our true identity is spiritual. Due to ignorance we have based our identity on our bodily designations. It gets worse when we bring that into the religious arena, which is the very knowledge that is supposed to free us from the materially biased conception of life altogether.
So, the problem is not diversity. The problem is our inability to fully understand these universal conclusions about the existence of spirit.
One soul is thinking, “I am a human”, another is thinking, “I am a mouse”, another is thinking, “I am a cat”, another living being is thinking, “I am a ferocious dog”. Amongst humans, someone is thinking, “I am American, I am Russian, I am gay, I am a conservative, I am a liberal”, etc. But pinch the body of the cat, pinch the body of the gay Russian, or cut the body of the old American conservative man and no matter who we think we are, we are all going to have something very big in common, we are all going to say “OWW that smarts! “ (Bow-wow respectively )
MODERN SPIRITUAL LAZINESS
The religious books of mankind are like road maps meant to bring our mind and intelligence to the universal conclusions about spirit and the source of the spirit. Today the problem is that people are standing around with the road maps in their hands, but are not actually going anywhere. In modern times people are filled with laziness. The fact that most Americans prefer to eat fast food, and keep a library of magazines in their bathroom really starts to tell you something about the American mentality. We want things fast and easy, so we can use our extra time to sit around and space out on trivia. So, does it surprise me that when it comes to religion there is a general unwillingness to buckle down and take the time to get serious and deep about the most important ontological questions of life?
Modern spiritual laziness culminates in the audacious attitude of those who claim and preach to others that they have arrived at the destination of spiritual consciousness simply by holding the road map (the religious book) in their hands. But, you can know when you have arrived at its destination when you can see the living spiritual force in all things. There are no cat-souls, dog -souls, and human-soul. The different bodies are simply different vehicles for the same spiritual living entity that is operating those particular bodies. So such people read the passage in the Bible about “do unto others” and then proceed to cut a leg off of a chicken, fry it up, and sit down to watch the “holy” Super Bowl.
People are encouraged by TV, media, and magazines to be that shallow. They are encouraged to accept religion for name’s sake and spend the rest of their time concentrating on politics, economy, and the American dollar. Do you really think that these people running the media parade have our best interest in mind? No wonder why people become atheists in this country. The absurdities committed in the name of spirituality, culture, and education today are mind-numbing.
In others words, what does simply calling yourself a Christian, Hindu, or Muslim really do for you?
If it doesn’t help you gain knowledge of the difference of spirit and matter, and detachment from the modern materialistic modus vivendi, (a.k.a the materialistic dance for dollars), then, frankly, all this so-called born-again status of any religion is useless.
It is simply some keen people adding some sprinkles on top of their real philosophy called Epicureanism in the name of religion. I guess it makes their psychological hedonism more digestible to the ego after adding their religious “Alcheseltzer” to the bar tab.
But real spirituality is learning to live and breathe it daily. It means reading the road map and having the guts to go on the journey by following the path. This is what makes you feel truly alive, because you are embarking on the ultimate adventure of human life; the quest for the truth of our origin.
Whether you are Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or whatever, those are great starting points but you have to use the road map that those religious affiliations give you and make it a real journey, and only after going on this journey can we truly see that the essence of these different paths is to bring us back to our original spiritual nature in union with all other living beings in service to the Supreme.
OM TAT SAT
No wonder you’re confused, Gopal. You’re unable to comprehend that if the pictures of an atrocity are gruesome, that must say something about the reality they’re pictures of. The pictures are the ugly truth. If you don’t like an ugly truth, address the atrocity, don’t criticize the noble people revealing the atrocity. You describe non-murderers as extremists, and describe murderers using their chosen euphemism, pro-choice.
All legitimate spirituality has two essential components: non-killing, towards those in the womb and out, and honesty.
And no, I’m not a Christian, just a non-murderer, unlike the so-called “pro-choicers”.
Wow, dude, you have not even read the article. What the heck are you commenting on? Something that you have conjured up in your restless mind? Seriously, you need to apologize to Gopal.
Giriraj Gopal Dasa
I think if you throughly read my article and try to comprehend its message you will find that there is nothing there that supports the “Pro-choice” movement or killing of any kind, rather if you actually read the ‘entire’ article, you will see that there is quite a lot of criticism towards those who kill innocent living beings.
As for myself describing the abortion pictures as gruesome does not automatically lend itself to the support of abortion. Nor did I criticize those who opposed it anywhere in the article.
I used their chosen euphemism to describe the ethos they were attempting to create for other persons walking by, and I myself was attempting to re-create the scenario, by putting myself in the shoes of an innocent person who may not be so acquainted with a particular philosophical, religious, or ethical stance.
I wanted to illustrate the confusion one may have in trying to decide which group that they belong to in regards to the pressure that is placed on people in our society to accept an designated affiliation.
I think if you re-read the contents of the article carefully considering my response, you will see that I am saying quite the opposite of that which you are talking about.
Another thought provoking article. Thank you Gopal!