All Religions are the highest and the most pious. But the religion is pure common sense and the utmost guide for a wholesome life. But why do we put it on a pedestal, confuse it with rituals, make statues of the ideals but do not follow it in spirit? BEATS ME.
Is it an issue of one up man ship among the religion preachers/ middlemen or are we not capable to understand the simple language of common sense and simplicity?
All of us follow a religion. Even those atheists who say they do not believe in any religion follow the religion of atheism.
The dictionary defines RELIGION:
‘religion (noun) 1.belief in and worshiping of a God or Gods. 2. a particular system of in faith and worship’ (Little Oxford Dictionary, Indian edition, fifteenth edition 2013)
To me the first explanation “1.belief in and worshiping of a God or Gods” is not religion but faith. The second is more or less complete in essence. This way even the atheist who does not believe in God and Supernatural power, has faith in his atheism, hence follows the religion of atheism. The villain who believes in cheating, mayhem, villainy is a follower of the code of conduct of villains and in other words follows the ‘Religion of Villainy.’
All of us follow some religion.
But religion is not just faith, it is an idea, logic, which once incorporated becomes lifestyle, once followed becomes the faith and once prayed to becomes the religion.
If we look at the history of most religion, they started during the tough times, when people were becoming aimless, warring with each other, confused, pathless, when a sane voice shouted. People listened to this commanding (not the tone but the matter spoken)voice and every time a new Messiah was born. With a new Messiah came a new rules of conduct, the logics true to that time and the common sense true forever. These were followed, written down or passed verbally.
Some religions also started when the people of a particular faith became disillusioned with the existing faith, were looking for something new to calm thire souls. A messiah came with a different interpretation promising salvation. The movement grew and new religion got formed.
In any case, the Messiah’s who came never believed they were Gods but believed themselves to be messengers, were knowledgeable, humble, with a very few exceptions.
All the religions which started, were true to the time, carried the logics and systems most suited to the time but by and large based on the timeless common sense and moralistic code of conduct.
They were necessary, important for the societal development, giving a path of right and wrong. (here all of the religions are same because the set of Morals and Common Sense propagated is timeless)
But a few mistakes happened by the followers of most religion.
- The common working man had little time to read what was written he needed some one to guide him. This is where the preacher came in, interpreting the religion initially and then later giving short cuts to follow. This resulted in ‘Rituals.’
- There were groups who understood but differently and interpreted as per their own understanding. This resulted in factions within the faith/ religion.
- With time, people deified the messiah, Made him a God or almost a God. The written down guidelines and the wisdom of the messiah’s became: Scriptures. The people who read and interpreted the scriptures became the preachers, religious leaders and men of power, at times even a greater power than the rulers.
- Now, since the religious preachers became strong, manipulated the words of wisdoms to suit themselves, they started to control the populace.
- The best way to control the masses was to mystify, deify, ritualize the religion. The masses started believing more in the religious leaders and the rituals rather than the wisdom and path of life it signified. The religious communities started becoming CLOSE BOX communities, leading to bigotry. Bigotry lead to hatred, fights, intolerance.
The positive thoughts, guidelines led to negativity, close box rituals and multiple religions/ communities/ faiths ( and sects/ sub-sects within them) intolerant towards each other.
Charles Caleb Colton once said” Men will wrangle for religion, fight for it, die for it; anything but-live for it.
So, do we need a new religion, to simplify this complexity?
The answer is “NO”.
Religion is a dangerous word in itself since it has tendency to lead to closed box communities.
But maybe we can look at:
Redefining and re-interpreting the religious codes of conducts, keeping in view today’s sensibilities. And also laying down a clear path that with changing times as learning’s and sensibilities change, the redefining and re-interpreting should happen.
Demystify the religions, give it in hand to each follower to understand, follow without ritualizing.
De-ritualize: the rituals within itself serve the purpose of building the community feelings but also play a dubious role of mystifying, giving the control in wrong hands.
Simplify religion, so once again it becomes a path to live life and not a bundle of rituals, mis-interpretations and bigotry. (NOT EASY at all ~ many might call it an impossible task)
Separate Law and Religion: the second most thing to do and even talking about it will bring in lot of flak.
We forget at times, that a majority of us do not choose our religion, we are born into it. We do not even look at it questioningly.
In this sense GOD did not make religion. He made Man. Man interpreted God and created religion.
We also forget that questioning religion is NOT questioning the Existence of GOD. The GOD supreme is much above the religion. The religions actually have started as a path to reach the GOD. Questioning religion is not even question the path, though I am in favor of questioning because it improves the concept and eases logical interpretation and explanation. A person who imbibes a faith and religion after understanding and accepting will always be a better follower (than a person born into it) . He will never be a bigot.
Religion is ideally also a path to live the right, logical, clean life. This can even be achieved by following a strong code of ethical and moralistic code of conduct. Following your own conscience for holistic, intuitive living. But the religion, despite all its shortcomings, makes a strong social boding.
So to sum up, we need to simplify, demystify religion and make it contemporary by re-interpreting it to today’s language and sensibilities, make it adaptive and not restrictive.
If the founders of the religions, the Messiah’s had been around, they would have probably done the same.
As Thomas Paine said ” Every religion is good that teaches man to be good”