Thursday, September 27, 2012

What is Religion to Me

Note: This article is a personal thought. Please do not leave comments belittling other faiths as this article is meant to instill respect for all religions as well as atheists. I am not a scholar but just an observer. What I have written below is based on my personal experience. If this article has offended anyone, please accept my humble apologies and I would like to be stood corrected by the actual experts.

From a young age, I had already accepted the fact that god is one and it did/does not matter what faith one practices because what mattered to me is that they do believe in a supreme being. I guess the reason for that was my upbringing.

Having said that, it mattered to me that one has to have a belief in the supreme being or god to put it bluntly, it does not mean I do not have respect for atheist. I mean, that is just a choice and must be respected nevertheless. I guess the only qualm I have is that the fact in the back of my head I feel atheists are arrogant. I am trying to get rid of that thought because it is indeed prejudice (I am just being honest). I love science and most of the scientists that I have read about were atheists so I am sort of in a sticky situation here.

The reason I am able to accept science and believe in god at the same time is because my father always used to explain the science in Hinduism. I do not deny that there is science in other religions from the little that I have read but I cannot comment because I do not know more. This paragraph is just to explain why I can accept god and science and for me religion and science complement each other. The recent discovery of the Higgs Boson has sparked some debate especially to those who do not understand what the particle is about because for those who do not believe in god tend to say, "hah, they have discovered the god particle..." which is far from true because the god particle was initially called the goddamn particle because it was very elusive. They decided to drop the damn and call it the god particle instead.

I accept Hinduism as a way of life as how it is described. It is indeed true as it does not have a creator. It was in a way just a culture to put it short. People lived that way and to outsiders, it may have looked like a religion because they did have a set of protocols to follow. These protocols are what we call rituals. Rituals are merely practices that became a norm; no one questioned it nor tried to find out what they were, for which is why if you ask a Hindu why do we do something in such a way, the common reply is well my parents, grandparents and ancestors did it this way. Today, there are a lot of articles explaining why such rituals are needed and especially explaining the science behind it. Even temples built in a certain way with proper materials serve more as a hospital than a place of worship. I am not making this up but merely quoting the stuff I have read. Why wasn't this knowledge shared by those who introduced it? Well just think 5000 years or more ago, people did not know jack about science. Imagine if you tried to explain science to them, they would think you're a lunatic. Take for example when I was a child, I grew up with cartoons like Popeye and whenever it came to vegetables, my mother used to tell me that if you eat your greens, you will be as strong as Popeye referring to how Popeye eats his spinach and grows muscles. So at that age, I took it at face value; if I eat vegetables, I will have muscles which is far from the truth. So over the years, these practices that mention you have to perform such rituals for god to be happy actually had a more profound meaning. God was used as an excuse to get people to do things that were beneficial for themselves.

God by himself/herself/itself (sorry, I have not met god and I do not know the gender) did not give any instructions. Man used that excuse so that people would do good, do justice and prevent them from committing harm. To me, that is what religion is about. It was a set of moral values, a guideline on how to live. I believe in god for the reason that our existence is not an accident as how some scientists would put it but something that is much deeper than that. I may not be able to find that answer through religion. I would however be able to find that answer through spirituality which is looking into one's self. Anyone from any religion can be spiritual who utilise religious teachings such as meditation, yoga or prayers to obtain the goal of discovering the point of being. Spirituality as well can occur without religion if one is focused enough. Religion is just a set of guidelines. You can do something this way or you can try another method but in the end, it achieves the same goal. Therefore, that is the reason why I respect every other religion. It does not matter to me which religion is superior because I do not put one religion over the other. If the religion serves its purpose of explaining life to someone, then religion has served its purpose.

I would like to write more but it would make this article more complicated as I would have to go into a lot of details. I can write more about Hinduism but maybe I will save it for another day. On the same note, I am only able to speak about Hinduism because I am familiar with it. It does not mean that I only acknowledge Hinduism as the only true religion... if it can even be considered a religion based on the guideline for religions...