When I was born I was a Hindu. Why? Because my parents told me so. They told me Vishnu existed, so he did, they told me Shiva existed, so he did, they told me Brahma existed, and so he did.
I was told we are Vaishnavas and so we were. I was told I should be vegetarian, teetotaler and pious, and so I was. This, more or less is the case with most of the kids irrespective of what religious back ground they come from.
All this was fine – till I was a kid.
Then, I grew up.
As I grew up I began to question and eventually ridicule most of what I was told about God and religion. It was partly the rebellious adolescent phase partly also the evolution of my ability to understand, reason and deduce on my own.
I began seeing religion as merely a set of rules and God as a really really elusive celebrity. I began dismissing any and all arguments for God and religion. I started feeling a latent hatred and growing intolerance and bitterness towards all ‘godly’ matters.
Then, I grew up some more!
The inflection point came when I was going through probably the worst patch of my life. Got my heart broken, almost died of an illness, flunked my exams and so on. But eventually life took an upturn – but it had nothing to do with God or religion.
Then what was it that made me open up?
At a subconscious level I had a plan to come out of the phase. I was determined to not rely on any drugs or alcohol, not to dump or project my mental state onto anyone and to NOT pray. I decided I was going to expel all the negativity in my life by simply being positive, open and having fun.
How did that help me with God? I’m coming to it.
After I was thought the ‘dark phase’, as I like to call it, I decided I was going to become an explorer. I was going to explore everything. Places, people, hobbies, quirks; everything. I had opened up – even to the possibility of God.
So do I believe in God? No.
Do I disbelieve in God? No.
I am still in the process of seeking or finding God. I don’t believe religion is going to take me closer to God. I don’t dismiss it, I think religion has its place in society.
To me God is independent of religion, spirituality is independent of God and religion and spirituality are two different things. Spirituality is more open, it allows me to fumble, experiment and seek answers that are tailored to my personality. It helps me seek answers within and outside myself.
Religion to me is a little binding. I don’t believe I have to be a Christian to believe in Jesus or Muslim to believe in Allah.
I see God much like the ‘force’ from Star Wars. The invisible force that moves everything in the universe. I see ‘it’ (please note the use of the word ‘it’) in people’s will to succeed, their ability to love and passion for their karma.
To me, God = Will + Love + Passion
Going back to the beginning, you are a Hindu/Muslim/Christian because you were told so. What if you weren’t? How would you have thought then?
The important thing is, can you think like that now. Give God a blank slate and then start exploring.
Regardless of you or me finding or not finding any answers, the process in itself will be fun, engaging and enlightening.
This principle is applicable not just in context of theism but to any quest for knowledge. Remember, sometimes, the journey in itself can be the destination.
So, go out. Explore. Experiment. Have fun!
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