Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beliefs, religion - is it the same ... or may be not ?


I have recently started to watch the detective series 'Without a trace' on TNT. I think it used to come on CBS or whatever but I am catching the old series on TNT. Well this blog is definitely not about the show (as much as I would love to write on it), but a line on last night's show that made me think.

" We all need something to believe in".

We all can have different reasons, power, justice, vengence etc etc but we need something to believe in.

Religion is often a topic that is part of my household discussion. There is just so much confusion there.

Am I religious ?- It is a question I often ask myself.

This question can only answered if I correctly operationalize the word "religion" as it appears to me.

What constitutes a religion. Why not Google the word religion.

So here is what I get.

"A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader" - Answer.com.

"A religion is a set of beliefs and practices generally organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction"- wikipedia.

Now if this is what religion constitutes then I clearly do not follow my religion. Ya I know what sort of food is associated with the different festivities that are associated with my religion. I even bow my head in front of gods and goddesess. But I definiely feel that I donot do enough to be called a believer in a certain religion. I follow no ritual, religious law, or practices.

I really struggle with this, but in all my struggles I am definitely sure that I believe in some power.This power may be supernatural, or may be within me. I am somehow (and I don't know why) not comfortable calling myself an agnostic and or an athiest. I donot have that passion to get into a mode of conflict rather that find a path that is comforting to me.

So can I say that my belief is a function of my expectations and the perceived capabilities of that power.

As I think more about the line spoken in the television serial, I think that the purpose that drives my belief is "justice". I somehow believe in the principle of supreme justice, and that what goes around shall come around. I am not sure that this principle works, but I think that it certainly does for me. It helps me stay away from a lot of anxiety.

Hence forth I believe that even though many people follow the same religion, everybody has a separate, individual, and a personal relationship with that religion and at the same time they have a shared understanding of that religion with others (and this level of shared understanding is controlled by the person)


I have also come across many people who do not question as to why are they religious, why they believe in a particular ritual, etc etc.

Some can say conditioning " I have seen my mother/ father do it so I do it". For some it is FEAR. " If I dont do it then something may happen". For many it is positive reinforcement " A good thing happened when I did that so I will perform that ritual again".

There may be many reasons, and it is not my job or purpose to critique them. However, the existence of religion in our lives intrigues me. And to sum it up.... do we all need something to believe in???

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