16 December 2008

does religion make us more divine or deranged?

(photo credit: bhakticollective)

Kaustubha Das asks a very good question. no society is immune from religious fundamentalism, just look at our home-grown fundamentalist Christians. all fundamentalists have the same thing in common: devotion to their god and a belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

in Sanskrit that would be bhakti combined with avidya with a good dash of asmita thrown in. devotion combined with ignorance and ego.


"When we see innocent people running our city streets, scrambling for shelter from acts of violence committed in God’s name, whether in Manhattan or Mumbai, it’s a good time to ask ourselves whether our religion is making us more divine or deranged. On the verge of 2009, it’s become all the more apparent that the first decade of the new millennium will, in many ways, be defined by the impact of religious terrorism on our nations, communities, families and minds. Times like these call for us to examine how our faith affects our reasoning....

The most relevant questions about religion will address how we approach it. Religion, as a method of self-transformation (or yoga), can purify the heart, free us of unworthy instinct and compulsion, and nurture the best in us. A pure heart is fit to receive God’s grace in the form of wisdom, contentment and compassion. Conversely, a superficial approach sees religion as merely a ticket to salvation via membership to a group endowed with the favor of God. It can result in just the opposite, fostering pride, sectarianism and hate. It can become an instrument for the expression of exactly that which we need to be purified of. Which brings us to the real enemy: not Islam, not even extreme fundamentalist Islam...."

To understand human nature I don't have to read modern western psychology books...all I need to do is look to yoga philosophy and Buddhism. Buddha was the first neuroscientist and psychologist and after his enlightenment he taught how to relieve our suffering, nothing more, nothing less. in fact his teachings were so simple that he almost decided not to teach what he discovered under the bodhi tree because he thought people would not believe him. after his enlightenment he was asked what he was and he merely said "awake." that is all the word "buddha" means.

As Das explains and also asks: "Yogic literature speaks of six enemies (Ari-shad-vargas) which bind the soul: kama, (lust); krodha, (anger); lobha, (greed); mada, (madness); moha, (illusion); and matsarya, (hate and envy). True religion aims at uprooting these terrorists. The sincerity of ones purpose in their approach to religious practice weighs heavily in determining ones success. Will the soul be purified or putrefied?"

Are you your own terrorist or will you choose to awaken?


  1. excellent! I try to keep the negative emotions under control but they are there, little seeds begging to be watered so that they can grow. so let us pull these weeds up by the roots and give the flowers of love and compassion room to grow.

  2. What a great post - sorry it took me a few days to get here. New job has me away from the blogs for 8-10 hours at a time!

    I would like to say that I am awakening... but I must say that it would be a lie to not acknowledge the terrorist within.

    I think we have all the elements from peace to terror and the more awake we are the more the terrorist subsides.

    I am a work in progress!

    Thank you and peace my sister.



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