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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thin dividing line between faith, jingoism, fanatiscism and fundamentalism

Yep, this is me yapping away on the cell

Had an interesting phone conversation yesterday in the midst of a three hour drive that I was imposed upon. As I was catching up with my phone calls, I reached out to some long lost friends, being a Friday it was apt. Eventually I connected with this buddy XYZ of mine. We share wonderful memories of some fun times together and in the past our conversations have been uplifting, reliving those funny moments. After the initial banter, I casually asked him about his new found faith that he had discovered few years ago. "How is that going?. It is good to find your own faith as all religions pretty much follow the same dictate, and it is good to truly find faith , embrace it and run with it".



I seemed to have touched a raw nerve there. I must have really opened the floodgates as I got a earful about the superiority of his faith! He scarcely took a breath as he went on a tear giving me an elevator pitch and more on his faith and why it was so good compared to anything else on earth.

QUICK NOTE HERE _ As you read this below, note that I am not trying to have a condescending attitude to any religion. I am mainly referring to the utter blind faith that has degenerated to fanaticism. This usually seem to turn people off - whether it is an idea at work, or politics or religion...Emotional diatribe is generally not perceived very well in an urban society.

Contuining....

My buddy XYZ talked about how he had read the Geeta, Siri Guru Granth Sahib, Bible, Torah, Koran, HOLY BOOKS of Religions and couple other holy books from the link above. He mentioned that there was only one of them that spoke the truth, and that was his own faith. His faith was the only one that had proven via forensic evidence of events of the past, as mentioned in his holy book and the stories surrounding those events. According to him what transpired centuries ago has been totally proven and has credible evidence. I was a bit aghast at this fundamentalistic attitude considering he used to be such a sane fun loving guy. He was on a roll here...his conversation revolved around "God wishes that", "If we don't obey God"...etc. I was polite (except when I had to forcibly interject to make a point from time to time) amidst the verbal onslaught and pointed to him a couple times to just consider a rational instance, instead of launching everything from God's viewpoint. He proceeded to blast the Darwinism, and proclaimed that carbon dating has proven to be scientifically inaccurate etc. I grabbed that assertion to point out that if science is such a hogwash, how can he vouch for the accuracy of the proof behind what happened thousands of years ago (forensic evidence) that his holy book alludes to. Is this a fact and not something the spinmeisters have concocted - akin to the Da Vinci Code - which I referenced. I said I have seen the DVD recently and also happened to listen to Dan Brown's talk in the DVD. Dan says that there is some truth behind the fiction he has written (I don't exactly know what), and the truth is hard to comprehend as facts can get spun, just like the current day Iraq war (example - half the US still believes that Bush is in Iraq to avenge 911 and go after the culprits responsible). At one point he asked me if I had read the holy books (and specifically his own). I mentioned that I had not even read the Geeta completely - and cannot claim to be an expert, let alone read other holy books. But I do believe in my faith, as that is something that I have embraced gradually and have confidence in my knowledge. I would love to find the time to read books to develop or enhance the faith or to give it credibility, but my antennae is always up and I am constantly learning. I also politely mentioned to him that I do not put forth a diatribe of what my faith and belief is - (alluding to him sending out unsolicited emails and taking the opportunity to discuss his faith at every inopportune moment). He caught on to what I hinted and justified it by saying that this is expected of his religion. He put a spin to it by saying that he only discusses his faith in length when the topic comes up. But I gently told him to be careful of this as unsolicited advice is not welcome (referencing my "no solicitation" sign outside my front door to help explain this point).


We ended up talking to great lengths and he was hell bent upon converting me into his viewpoints and more. I was a bit concerned that he had the same passion and intensity when he is discussing these issues with people at his work, as he seeks to enlighten them with his new found faith. I mentioned that the Democrats of the world can never hope to convert the Republicans and vice versa. A Blue Blood is always a blue blood. Thankfully, he said he is discreet when it comes to work (I have my doubt though :-) I did request him to cease and desist in discussing politics and religion - unless solicited to (it is kind of difficult to change the world into your view point at the drop of a hat). I also told him to join online discussion groups, forums and blogs where he could discuss his ideas and concepts with like minded people, that might be more of a value add.

Anyway, to cut our discussion short (which went beyond the hour) I asked him if he believed in God - whether my God is different than his. He got confused at this point and mumbled, "YES they are different". I don't think he meant this. I said, "So do you believe that the God that made me is different from the God that made you?". He said "They are the same". I said "So, why are we discussing this then? We have the same God thus there are no differences". That was enough (I think) to get closure over our conversation and for us to move on and still be friends. But at this point my signal died and when I called back (two times) he refused to pick up the phone. I left a courtesy message on the third try, that it was good to catch up and we should stay in touch.


But it was an emotional jarring conversation considering the fanatiscism and utter fundamentalism behind such passionate diatribe. I was dumbfounded to say the least and I really wonder what transforms people to become this. It reminded me of the Amway sales pitch. I did mention to him how Hinduism is a way of life, and that we have never gone about trying to have the world embrace us. We are truly secular (India is a secular state) in nature and love to live in harmony with other religions as far as possible. I am absolutely sure his friendships have been impacted due the Amway attitude to all this, and ..... it just struck me that he used to be an Amway sales guy - and had tried to recruit me into the fold a few years back. I feel that he is constantly seeking the straw to latch upon to float in life. Faith in something is extremely important for his sanity and thus he has done a natural migration from Amway to the new faith. I wonder if this too is a phase. Time will tell....

But, I still have a lot of respect for my buddy and am certainly hopeful things will turn around. He has encountered a new aspect of life and has loads of enthusiasm for this (just like Amway) and again, I am not putting any religion down. I truly believe that all the religions lead to the same God and happiness to you and your religion. When I compare him to the buddy of old, there is a huge difference. Once he shakes off this new love, he will come back to being his old self. I can certainly see that in the horizon. I have not given up on him. A few years down, when he looks back to what he was today, he and I will get a good laugh over it. And then, he would have found the next clique to be part of...

3 comments:

  1. Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

    ReplyDelete

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This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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