Purpose of religions:
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says a story for those who try to give a definition for God. Four blinds tried to define the structure of an elephant. The first one touched it’s leg and came to the conclusion that an elephant would look like a pillar. The second one touched its tail and said that an elephant is a rope like matter. The third one on touching its tusk derived that an elephant is a flexible rope. The fourth one touched its big belly refused the discoveries of all his friends. He said: “You fools, an elephant is a big pot”.
This is the same to those who try to define God. Because God is not a matter of definition, God is a matter of perception. Though the blinds could be true, they are actually seeing only a part of the Infinity. So, it is a foolish thing to try to give a finite definition for Infinity. It’s like the blind trying to define an object. We need the eyes of perception to see God. Those who found Him, would realise that they are none other than ‘the very same elephant’ that they were trying to define and reach. God is in our own land, just in every one of us.
The Self realisation is indeed God realisation. Sath Guru Adhi Sankaracharya says that the soul has the same attributes of God. There is not two, but one. God realisation can not happen without the realisation of the soul. If one has found the Self, it invariably means that he has found God as well.
We are very careful in the boundaries of the finite land, but fail to protect the land inside. We let the enemies -lust, ego, envy- to capture the temple of our land and fight externally. Only when we face the inner enemies with the same rage and bravery that we show to protect our material land, only then we would come to know that God is inside. While trying to drive out the inner enemies we should not ignore and hurt the boundaries of others. He is in everyone’s heart. He is simply everywhere. The outer environment and inner environment both exhibit and represent God.
Swami Vivekananda says that the world and ourselves are not different from each other and those who find even a little variance between the universe and the self, suffers a hell. Go ahead. You would find Him in anyway. But don’t hit any one down on your way. This is what Swami Vivekananda says.
‘Hitting one down’ means hurting one – not just in physical and mental planes, it also implies the assault on one’s spiritual freedom. Don’t impede others’ spiritual faith.
According to Sri Adhi Sankaracharya, three things are hard to get. 1. Human birth, 2. Desire of Realisation and 3. The guidance of the Sath Guru (Spiritual Master who knows The Truth) to help one’s realization. Those humans who had acquired the second precious thing also, that is the Desire of Realisation, may have to struggle a lot to see their Spiritual Master. We have a few such masters and their invaluable guidance. It is said that The Sath Guru is none other than God Himself. So, there can’t be two Sath Gurus. One may here the same news in different languages. The syllables may differ, the tones may differ, the structures of sentences may differ. But the message that all these try to convey is the same. The True Guru is the same for all and He is just within us in the form of our discriminating and reasoning power. He clears all the husks over one’s soul and opens the eyes of love and wisdom within oneself. According to one’s capacity and standard, He prescribes any of the standard paths. All the paths are here to remove the three obstacles: the influence of delusion, the influence of one’s past and present actions and the wavering mind. The consciousness that the aspirants derive differs from person to person according to their depth of desire and the amount of efforts they put on God. One feels that he lives in the land of God (Salokam). One feels that one lives in the land of God and in His presence (Sameebam). Other feels that he lives in the land of God with the same features of God (Saroopam). Yet other feels that He is in the land of God as God Himself (Sayujyam). Thus, we all live in the land of God; we can say this way also, as God is in our land. How far we know Him is left to our own interest and efforts. Those who are serious, get closer to Him and win the mystery of life. Those who aren’t interested, come and go as bubbles in the dark of ignorance. They too are rooted in the light; but they are far from it due to ignorance.
The Adhvaitha philosophy says that the land and God, the world and its Creator are not two different entities – there is no two; there is only one thing and the one thing is God. All are one and each one struggles to know this basic truth about one’s own nature. We all stranded far away from our base and are looking to fill the gap.
God is in everyone. Though He is in many forms, He is One and is simply everywhere. Still, we all feel ‘separated’ from God. How to fill the so called ‘gap’ between ourselves and God? That’s why we have religions! The religion establishes the missing connection between man and God. Some religions call it surrendering to God, some religions call it loving the Almighty, some religions refer it as merging with the Unmanifested Absolute. Some religions do not talk about God – the ultimate goal, but talk about the path. My religion stresses the merger with God – being and becoming God. Let me tell a little about my religion here. It has four standard paths: one for the worker – who wants to work and doesn’t bother about the results, another for the emotional nature – who loves everything and is not bothered about definitions and philosophies, the third is for the philosopher and the other one is for the mystic who controls the animal and human instincts and concentrate on the divine consciousness. But the ultimate destination is the same and it is just hiding inside us or rather we are hiding ourselves from It! Who can show us our true nature? God Himself. He comes as a Sath Guru (the Spiritual Master who knows the Self) and helps us in knowing our true nature. The very basic requirement for a religion is that it should have at least one Self realized or God realized being besides its formation. Else, it will see the end for sure. Example, Akbar’s Teen Ilahi. King Akbar might have wanted to bring harmony among people; but he is not a self realized being, hence his philosophies didn’t survive after his life.
Any true religion will be dealing in any of the above paths. And common factors are those who had already seen, “winning the culprit senses – going beyond body and mind consciousness”. This should not be taken as keeping a stagnant state. It is not physically shutting the doors of senses. One may act with all his heart and strength for whatever good reason – without body and mind consciousness. We should strive to realise that we are more than the body and mind. It can happen only when the mind is clean.
A song in Tamil starting with the words ‘Manamadhu Semmayanal…’ reveals that there is no need to chant divine verses, if one’s mind is purified. There is no need to lift the life force, if the mind is purified. No action is required, after the purification of mind. It has a reflexive meaning also – probably this could be the right way of interpretation. Chant divine verses till the mind is purified. Lift your life force till your mind gets purified. Indulge in selfless activities till the mind is purified. Keep trying in one way or the other and try to perfect your mind. This spiritual aspiration is known as sadhana. One needs to keep pouring the oil till the brim of the vessel. Once the vessel is filled and overflows, then there is no need to pour any more oil. It’s enough if we check that the filled up vessel remains filled. But, the vessel will not get filled by any magic. Each one has to get his vessel filled by his own effort. All the realized men in the world had done this filling across many lives.
The ordinary people come along with many holes in their vessels – lust, greed, indifferences and things like that. So, however hard they try to fill, their efforts ooze out through any hole and keep the vessel empty. But, if they continue with sincerity and faith, God helps them patch up their holes and stay perfect and complete.
This can be said in the other way also. Empty the vessel through your spiritual sadhana. The vessel is filled up with all rubbish things. One may try hard, still, dusts like lust and greed keep pouring into the vessel. Sincere efforts and above all God’s Grace is required to remove these dusts completely. It’s only through God’s Grace, man could enter the kingdom of God. And God helps those who help themselves. God pulls the one who raises one’s hands upwards and towards Him. Thus, the main goal of religion is to practice sadhana to deserve God’s Grace through the achievement of pure mind, so that one could behold the light of the Truth in one’s own being. This is the very purpose of life.
The purification of mind happens in different methods. One may indulge in doing actions; one may restrain from doing actions; one may pray with devotion; one may control the senses through yogic practices and meditation. The purpose is the same – clean the mind. When we have a clear mind and when we stop its focus on external matters, then happens the vision of the Self. We can not force everyone to follow a certain fixed path, as the very nature of our existence is based on freedom. We have been given freedom to choose our ways and needs. All that we have to do is to check that we are not taking the wrong courses of actions. I think it is opt to quote Martin Luther King’s words here. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Moving forward – here denotes the progress in the Self realization.
The followers of religions clash with each other and say that they alone are right. Religion is of personal nature. It gives options to the individuals to do self-cleaning for their minds. Instead of wasting one’s precious time in adding few numbers to the count of one’s religion, one must work hard to be worthy of being in it. Mere participation in the gatherings of the most populous religion will not give one perfection; mere reading out of divine scriptures wouldn’t give one salvation, unless one ‘consumes’ the lessons and ‘comes forward’ to work on what one learnt.
If one really wants to change, one has to apply the key given to him. The key i.e. religion or the path is personal. Admiring at the key or arguing over the key won’t help. Through the right application of the key, one can unlock oneself and can go to new dimensions of consciousness. If he doesn’t apply the key or if he damages the key with his ignorance and insincerity, then the problem is with himself – not with the key. So too, if one is not prepared to change himself, he curses the religion and keeps changing the keys. God sends everyone with the right key that suits one better. We have to work out our destiny and realization for ourselves with the appropriate keys given to us. Unless one desires for realization and is prepared to put oneself on that sincerely, no religion can help him. Mere changing of the keys (religions) won’t help one unless one remains truthful to oneself in the aspect of self or God realization. If one is not truthful to oneself – not prepared to change oneself for the better – then, mere changing of religions is of no use. If, just accepting a religion as one’s own could grant one realization, then everyone there should be realized beings. But the fact is there are criminals in all religions. So, the real test is not with the religion but with the sincerity and struggle that one shows for one’s realisation. Each religion has some unique features that suit some better. It may not suit all people in the same way as it suits those for whom it is meant for. All religions are here to lead us towards God/Self realization. If any religion couldn’t serve this purpose, then it is not a religion at all. India has religions having versatile philosophies and proven paths for varying personalities and having the same goal of God/Self realization.
As Swami Vivekananda puts it, “Religion is realisation; not talk, nor doctrine, nor theories, however beautiful they may be. It is being and becoming, not hearing or acknowledging; it is the whole soul becoming changed into what it believes. That is religion.”