- Religion and Philosophy
Three Things You Could do to Avoid The Cycle of Births and Rebirths
There is a popular belief that every child born in this world chooses his or her own set of parents even before conception. There is no question of anyone confirming or negating this belief. For one thing, beliefs are not mere opinions or views of someone which could be challenged by someone else who thinks differently; these embody the holder's deep-rooted conviction about the finality or irrevocability of the phenomena or occurrences found or happening around us all the time, the dynamics of which defy human comprehension and could, therefore, be interpreted in different ways by different people.
Belief in God
For instance, one believes that there is a God who created the universe and has been sustaining it. The belief in an all-powerful God leads us to further believe that not a blade of grass moves without His will. It is unthinkable for such a person to think of life without God. A true believer of God witnesses the awesome beauty and amazing sweep of God's craftsmanship in anything and everything including bald mountains, barren deserts and stoic rocks. He is awestruck by the mind-boggling variety of living things, big and small, and the engineering marvel of their programming.
Rarity of Consistent Non-Believers
Come to think of it, it is practically impossible to come across a true atheist or agnostic whose belief in the non-existence of God has never swerved nor is unshakeable throughout the span of his lifetime. Nobody could possibly be an agnostic or an atheist right from birth. It is only at some point of time or other during adolescence or later life that one comes under the influence of a non-believer capable of lucid thinking and effective articulation, which makes him become one, a non-believer in God, that is. Iconoclasm and a rationalistic, no-nonsense, cut-and-dry, scientific approach and bringing under laboratory conditions for harsh scrutiny, anything and everything, including abstract beliefs, is understandably a fashionable state or drift of mind in one's life, mercifully a passing phase, like the political philosophy of communism.
On the contrary, the belief of one who has firm faith in God remains unflagging or unflinching practically throughout his life notwithstanding occasional moments of disappointment or despair. In fact, learning from scriptures, books authored by wise men and experiences of one's own life and those of people around him, leaves one's perception of God seasoned, weathered and conditioned to the irrevocability of a bedrock of faith. For the believers, it is the concept of God which is the altruistic saving feature vital for sustaining sanity of the mind which is otherwise taxed with the burden of having to explain away and account for baffling irrationality of human behaviour and bereftness of logic in the course of a seemingly, but definitely not in actuality, disorderly world. Just to give a small illustration, why do millions of people die of starvation, day in and day out, throughout the world when enough food grains are, or could be, collectively grown to feed the entire humanity? Likewise, why do people perish in hundreds and thousands in tsunamis, eruption of volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, storms or typhoons? A plausible reason flows only from abiding faith in the scheme of God who works in mysterious ways.
True believers are hardly bothered about secondary details such as what God is supposed to look like or how He is to be worshipped. While they may worship a sculpture in a man-made temple, they are enlightened enough to realize that God is a divine perception which defies and transcends all material objects and locations in which man tries, out of ignorance, or maybe a childish naivety, to entrap divinity which is omnipresent and omniscient. They don't quarrel with people who cannot envision a truly big omnipotent force much larger than the universe. Nor could they be bothered about divisive practices like religious identity or finer denominations of faith. That is the kind of a positive belief that a true believer has in God and things associated with Him.
Beliefs in Negative Concepts
All the same, the perception of God, held and proferred by different religions, vary depending upon different cultural mores, value system and the feeling of security or the lack of it, of the people practising religions different from their own. What one religion has to offer by way of description or elucidation of God is scoffed at by believers and followers of another.The most pious follower of one religion is considered a non-believer by those who consider themselves the true descendants of the founder of another religion and, therefore, the upholders of God's word. For the latter category of people, anybody else who has something to say even in slight departure of their religion's course stipulated in their holy book or scriptures is a sheep gone astray, doomed to be devoured by wolves of sacrilegious beliefs and evil practices.
More often than not, such persons who deviate from the beaten track are branded a threat to the established system and the generally accepted norms of life and religious beliefs. The extreme votaries of such a neolithic and procrustean system of faith become fiercefully fanatical to the extent of trying to go about, and sadly enough often succeed in, physically moving those who dare to think and believe differently, closer to God! In truth, we could all have belief in God and yet everyone's belief could diverge and differ from each other's when we get down to further details like religion.This leads to a conflict situation. When there is no understanding of the truth or why there is difference in the beliefs of different people from different social backgrounds and cultural milieu, and one is not prepared to do away with the notion of superiority of his own concept of God, the conflict situation gives rise to the birth of intolerance. That is the bottom line of beliefs in negative concepts or ideas which make it unsafe or insecure for the smooth existence of the Society..
Breeding Grounds of Intolerance
Politics is another conspicuous area of conflicting interests which breed intolerance. Even those people who have a common belief in the same form of governance, like democracy, and vote for political parties of their own choice, become discontent and intolerant beyond a certain stage. And then, there are those who are contemptuous or cynical about democracy and recommend, not infrequently, violent means to bring about a transformation in the society. The volatile disposition of such believers in extreme ideologies is the fertile breeding ground of suspicion, fear, hatred and intolerance. Communalism is anathema to social harmony. In reality, however, non-theocratic States which take pride in calling themselves secular, often turn out to be victims of unabashed communalism which preys on unsuspecting and vulnerable sections of society.
Conscientious Choice of Parents
Every potential parent develops with trepidation a tentative notion of what kind of a child he or she would like to have, just as God made man in His own image. Curiously, it is not when a child does not take after his parents and is just different that the latter despair. A child could be a spitting image of either parent, inherit their charecteristic traits; alternatively, the child could embody a vast improvement over his or her parents. In either case, there is cause for happiness and a reason for rejoicing. It is when a child fails to measure up to a parent's standards or stature, let alone exceed their expectations or idea of success, that there is disappointment and despair. Oftentimes, parents commit the folly of failing to realise that a child's true nature has nothing to do with either parent and is like his own unique set of fingerprints.
Purpose of Life and its Fulfillment
Some people, like Hindus for instance, believe in the cycle of births and rebirths, based on the theory of "Karma". The moment a child comes into the world, he forgets all about his previous births, as the memories would be too huge a burden for him to carry; likewise, he also forgets why he was born of a particular set of parents which was, in actuality, the result of a conscientious choice made by him prior to his entry into the world, for facilitating fulfillment of the purpose of life viz. paying off his old "debts", flowing from wrong, wicked or evil deeds or redeem the rewards of his virtuous deeds, all from a previous birth or births at a previous time or times. This is a classic belief held by Hindus who do not believe in a God of retribution.
"Karma" and its Consequences
God, Hindus believe, does not condemn you to eternal damnation, whatever the provocation. Similarly, He does not choose to reward you for good behaviour. It is your thoughts, words and deeds which go into the making of your "Karma," which determines your balance sheet of accounts for rewards or punishment. Accordingly, you get an opportunity to be reborn to pay off your debts to the persons to whom you had been unfair or to whom you had meted out injustice in your previous births; or reap your rewards for the virtuous life you had led, depending upon whether your "Karma" is in the negative or positive. This process goes on and on, countless numbers of times, till your balance sheet shows neither negative nor positive accounts, at which stage you are successfully liberated from the cycle of births and deaths and become one with God. Being pious, devout and detached to the incidents in your life notwithstanding the provocations, and remaining non-attached to the results of your actions, to the extent of becoming totally impervious to the bouquets or brickbats which others throw at you, enable you to achieve a state of mind for leading a life of pristine glory as God intended. It is like, when you throw a pebble into a pond, you cause ripples which grow bigger and bigger. When you stop throwing pebbles into the water, the pond is restored to a state of quiet and scintillating stillness. The more your involvement in life, the more your karmic deeds, good or bad, and the bigger becomes your case file of "Karma".
Liquidation of "Karma"
Relentless pursuit of the following course of preventive action has been recommended by learned and wise men for the purpose of non-indulgence and non-involvement in life and consequential liquidation of one's Karmic account:
● Ceasing to think and bringing the mind to a state of stillness and tranquility;
● Abstaining from uttering non-truth and falsehood; and
● Bringing about your system to a state of absolute non-action except for essential and noble purposes and non-pandering to the body's cry for creature comforts.
Faith in God and absolute surrender to Him are the only means to even attempt the above course of action, let alone achieve any degree of success.
© 2015 Kalyanaraman Raman