Personalization of Religion

“Purpose of religion is to nurture unity and promote synergy in diversity.” …Rohit Chauhan

Intent:

This is an attempt in a direction to wipe out religious conflicts and encourage self confidence, by Personalization of Religion.

Background:

If the original intents of religions could have their way, there would be peace and harmony all over world. Of course, this has not happened even after thousands of years in spite of an overwhelming majority of practitioners of various religious rituals. History has seen most wars stemming from the seats of major religions. The Middle East and west Asia have continued to be in turmoil throughout history. Is this the fault of religions? I think not.

The basic cause of religion based communal conflicts is inherent in a blind following of religious rituals, without concern for the intent backing those rituals. Religious masses have become more process driven, without understanding the intent behind religious processes. People seem to believe that their devotional practices are sufficient to please the far away almighty who will then bestow desired results upon devotees; if not in this life, then in a subsequent life. This kind of faith is commendable, though, at best, it can be only a first step that keeps them connected. We need to learn and communicate how to direct our faith in the way the almighty god truly functions.

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How God Helps?:

It is said that God helps those who help themselves and others. Here is a story to clarify the point. There was a priest who regularly worshiped in a temple, not too far away from ocean. He had been doing so, rain and sunshine, summer and winter, every single day, for over half a century. One day something totally unheard off happened. Out of nowhere, a tsunami swept in from the ocean, with heavy rains, gusty winds, and fast rising tides. The priest knew that he was in deep trouble, though he maintained his unwavering faith in God as it should be.

As the flood level grew, he kept climbing up the stairs. It was not long before the entire temple was under water and priest found himself standing tall at the pinnacle of the temple, with both hands pointing up towards God and praying. He had faith in his prayers. Pretty soon he saw a boat approaching him. The boat captain urged the priest to jump into his boat so that he could be rescued. With unwavering faith, the priest replied no thanks. After all there was no reason for him to doubt his faith. He continued to refuse other offers of help as well. Of course, just to be sure, he increased the intensity of his payers every time he declined offers to help him. But the waters kept on rising, because the adverse natural forces at work were much stronger than the priest’s prayers.

Within a couple of hours water was touching the priest’s lips. Then he saw a helicopter dropping a rung of ladders. The helicopter pilot shouted, Sir this is your last chance. As expected the priest declined again and surrendered to what he thought was God’s will. He drowned and went to haven. There he asked God, what did I do wrong? I have been religiously serving you for over half a century. At the very least, you should have answered my prayers once! Why didn’t you? Now, who would have faith in you?

The God listened sympathetically and replied. Yes, my son, I did send rescue missions your way. Don’t you remember that helicopter that I sent, just before you chose to come here? The morale of the story is that God likes to be participative and those who cling to the rituals blindly get what they deserve. Some may call it Karma!

For the believers in every religion, God Almighty is the most powerful supernatural entity. There is nothing that happens or can happen without God’s will. This is true without doubt, for those with one hundred percent faith in God. However, the reality is that most believers have a shakable faith and situational ethics. This is quite evident in misconducts in everyday life, giving rise to increasing controversy about God; who, where, what, why and how.

The God controversy has been rooted in the believers simple view of ‘up there’; and the non-believers resentment to the hypocrisies, as seen in daily conduct of the believers as compared with their stated life philosophies.

I believe, God is a personification of totally integrated Universal Consciousness which includes everyone and everything. We are in this world to focus universal energy for specific purposeful actions. General tendency of overly religious people to delegate their personal responsibility back to God, via thoughtless following of rituals, defeats their life purpose.

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What Is Religion?:

Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well functioning masses would like to conduct themselves according to the intents of major religions as expressed above by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a highly acclaimed American thinker. Noble as it is, most humans today operate in short-term body-centric ways, which defeats the intent of religions.

People need to fully comprehend what a religion truly is? Some say it is a way of life, consistent with God’s will. Some say, it is a code of conduct as is written in sacred ancient books. Mark Twain has said “Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of.” Penguin Dictionary of Religions (1997) says, religion is “A general term used to designate all concepts concerning the belief in gods and goddesses as well as other spiritual beings or transcendental ultimate concerns.” The Encyclopedia Britannica (online, 2006) has defined religion as “Human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine.” Peter Berger has been quoted to have said “Religion is the human attitude towards a sacred order that includes within it all beings, human or otherwise, belief in cosmos, the meaning of which both includes and transcends man.” This supports that there has to be a spiritual component to every religion, though it remains hidden behind the veils of organized religious rituals.

Supercharging Worship:

Worship or Puja are the mechanics of religious ritual that are often confused as the religions themselves. Without a good actionable internal understanding of spirituality in religion, all rituals have a potential of becoming booby traps, also known as Maya. The spirituality needs to be experienced and appreciated at individual levels, before religious rituals can be expected to produce beneficial results. Since spirituality must be experienced individually for seeking an all out synergy, all religions must be personalized before their practice in large organized groups.

Vedarshi Dr. Fatah Singh, a highly distinguished Vedic scholar of the 20th century, has said that the purpose of a religion is to promote unity among all mankind. This is a non-trivial undertaking, because the human is inherently divided between his inner self and his external self. Every religious practice that does not begin with first uniting a human with his inner self is not likely to bring long lasting results, pointing the need for personalization of religion.

For personalization of religion every human needs to be conscious of his or her life’s purpose in relationship to God. I believe everyone takes birth with a subconscious understanding of one’s life purpose, which gradually gets obscured during the process of growing up in society that claims to know for sure what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

For a wholesome personal development spirituality must be encouraged from the very beginning when it is natural for everyone. Without spiritual awareness, personalization of the religion is not possible. When left to later in life, as is generally the case, it becomes more and more difficult to relearn.

Spirituality:

Today pursuance of spirituality is looked upon as an occupation for those nearing the end of their physical life. No wonder all we routinely do in the name of religion is a practice of baseless  rituals whose effect in daily life fades away after leaving the place of worship. Without a sufficient spiritual base, religious rituals run the risk of generating false expectations.  As a result, it seems, the masses have become dependent upon getting their blessing everyday and using the false umbrella of those blessing as license to do just about anything during the day or until it is time for them for the next dose of blessings.

First axiom of the spiritual approach has to be that all humans are synergistically coupled highly intense bundles of the all permeating Universal Energy (UE), also known as the Spirit. It is noteworthy that we are our spirit with a body around it, rather than our body with a spirit in it.

Our body is medium of expression and interaction with other bundles of UE, human or not. We have chosen our body and the family, depending upon the mission of our spirit in the universe.

People have a tendency to confuse spirituality with a bind following to their religious rituals that, more often than not, act as a smoke screen between them and God.

Chanting of Mantra’s brings results only to the extent of the chanter’s ability to resonate with Universal Energy (UE) that is the basic component of everything and everyone. Even the priests, at large, do not understand that a spiritual UE consciousness needs to be inculcated to bring meaning into their prescription of religious rituals.

Seven States of Awareness:

Human spirit is in constant communication with UE, and, yet, we are seldom aware of it. Our knowingness of this relationship depends upon the state of conscious awareness at any given moment. Human consciousness can be can be categorized into seven states of awareness, known as the Kosha’s. One transcendences from one Kosha to another, up and down, depending upon the thoughts (or lack of them) from moment to moment. This movement can be very smooth for those who are not stuck into any states for want of certain results.

Veda points to seven states of conscious awareness. First three of them are easily experienced by almost everyone. These are named as:

  1. Annamaya Kosha. This is our body. This is the state in which most adults find themselves all the time. People introduce themselves and address others as though they were just their body. This Kosha has to do with catering to the needs of human body and satisfaction of a common mind’s desire to be ‘right’ at all costs, including the survival of the mind itself.
  2. Pranmaya Kosha. This is the rhythm of human body, intricately tied to the beating of heart and a silent pulsation of 8 (8 according to Veda, 7 commonly known) energy centers (chakras) of a live body (Annamaya Kosha). As long as heart is able to beat, there is Prana (the rhythm) in the body. One enters the Pranmaya Kosh just by being aware of the Prana. More we are aware of our Prana, the better our body can function. Therefore, the Pranmaya Kosha can be easily confused as the spirit of body – our Annmaya Kosha..
  3. Manomaya Kosha. This state of consciousness has been described by Taitriyo Upnishad as the inner self of the Pranmaya Kosha. It is dominated by our mind functions; including,  but not limited to, reasoning.

The remaining four states of consciousness are accessible only via meditation, which, via practice can be instantaneous for the yogi’s or highly focused individuals. These are:

4. Vigyanmaya Kosha, 5.Anandmaya Kosha, 6. Hiranyaya Kosha, and 7. Aparajita Puri.

A person finds himself in Vigyanmaya Kosha during periods of high creativity. Beginning from the Vigyanmaya Kosha, human spirit starts relating more and more with the Universal Energy consciousness – say God, so much so that the eternal joys of the Anandmaya Kosh come within easy reach and the duality between the man and God  totally disappears in the Hiranyaya Kosha with an intense indescribable feeling of bliss.

As one moves up the consciousness ladder, beginning with the Vigyanmaya Kosha,  Worldly conflicts start losing intensity, becoming non-bothersome when the Anandmaya Kosh is realized, smoothing way to the Hiranyaya Kosh. Those who have ventured into Hiranyaya Kosaha have described as being surrounded by the pleasant redness of an early rising sun or a late setting sun. At this stage the human mind, pran, and body are in the Krishana State (no friction) or in Ayodhyapuri where there is no war. When this happens, generally for short bursts of time for those who meditate, the Spirit (Atma) dances with God and communicates universal Veda (knowledge with wisdom) all the way down to the Anandmaya Kosh (body) for creative action towards fulfillment of life’s purpose.

While in the Hiranyaya Kosha all functions of Mind, Body, and discrete Spirit cease to exist on an individual basis. This is like being chums with the almighty God, generally for a short time for creative spirits with a human body. This is the ultimate and final expression of every religion, because this is the state of consciousness that feeds the lower Koshas with Veda (knowledge with wisdom) for nurturing unity and promoting synergy in diversity .

This is best attained by personalization of the religion in the first place. The big religious organizations cannot achieve this collectively, as long as their organizational identity remains important to them.

The final state of consciousness, Aprajita Puri, meaning where one is undefeatable, can be achieved soon after one’s entry into the Hiranyaya Kosh. In this state one’s consciousness gets fully integrated with the consciousness of Universal Energy. Everyone is capable of attaining this state at least for minute bursts of time. Highly accomplished yogi’s can easily attain such a state of consciousness and sustain it for relatively longer periods.

Those who are able to venture in to Hiranyaya Kosh can easily transcend into Aparajita Puri. In the Aparajita Puri, it is all one all mighty energy. It is capable of relating with each and every entity in the universe for any desired effect, though so doing forces one into a lower state of consciousness. This explains why more accomplished a spirit, it is less likely that person will be showing off miracles.

Unity in Diversity:

At the very basic level of consciousness we look upon ourselves as just our body, the Annamaya Kosha. Since each body is uniquely different from others it natural to be focusing on human diversity. With meditation, as we rise above into the hire states of consciousness, this human diversity gradually tappers off  practically to an insignificance when in Vigyanmaya Kosha. It seems a self ego may still remain, though well managed, finally disappearing to almost nothing by the time we are in the Anandmaya Kosh.

Thereafter, into the Hiranyaya Kosha and Aparajita Puri, it is all oneness – the universal energy saturated with Veda, which is pure and complete knowledge laced with wisdom.

I believe it is not necessary to be lost into the details of the seven layers of conscious, as alluded above, simply because those details can only be individually experienced and never completely described in words. It is sufficient to know that, with meditation, all of us can regularly venture into the states of higher consciousness to experience soma (bliss) of unity and bring back a sharpened ability to apply Veda (knowledge with wisdom) for nurturing unity in diversity of the lower levels, which is what was originally desired by all religions.

Personal Responsibility:

Whatever you may think of your religion, spend only as little time in its rituals as is necessary for empowering yourself to function in life like as your worshiped would.  ….Rohit Chauhan

The humans can never delegate their responsibility to obtain benefits that come with personalization of religion for them, individually; since no priest or a pseudo-guru can take birth, die, eat, or experience anything personal for a client at any price. Yes, a few real guru’s can show a way to personalization of religion and, when responsibly educated, a priest can help in teaching the spiritual basis of rituals before showing (not doing for others) their clients how to perform those rituals. A tall challenge before humanity is how put the genie of the so called religious leaders (priests or pundits) in the bottle full of spiritual elixir.

Regarding the organized religions, my thesis is that they are doing a good job limited to  providing a partial safety net for survival. For excellence in life more is needed, directed to personalization of religion, which begins with spiritual awareness seeking clarity about the purpose of one’s life. Fundamental modifications in various religious practices are needed to assist people in fulfilling their physical or spiritual needs. 

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