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Religion: Conventional and True
The Questions

These rivers and mountains, these flowers and trees, these brooks and lakes, these wonders of nature; are they real? These earthquakes and tornados, hurricanes and floods, these deaths and destructions, these sorrows and miseries, these huts and slums; are they eternal? Or do they end when I die? The clouds and lightening, the vapors and smoke, the rain and storms; they bring life to surface and also death and destruction; do I have control over them? The Alps and the Himalayas, the Amazon and Sahara, the Arctic and the Antarctic, they overpower me, inspire awe and terror, tranquility and peace; are they real, or would they crumble with Time?

The machines and factories, the Science and Art, the discoveries and inventions, the poetry and music; the paintings and sculptures, the Scriptures and Books; do I create them or they create me? The hatred and jealousy, the love and attachment, the anger and passion, the compassion and altruism they usher in; do I have a choice to select the best for me? Strange these questions are!

The span between birth and death is always too short for a human being, modern or ancient, to answer these question. These troubles at birth, uncertainty of adolescence, struggles in adult-life, hunt for food and shelter, craving for name and fame, desires that give joy and pleasure, pain and misery; but never satiate; and the sure knock of death? Is this real? Is This All?

Is there life after death to fulfill the unfinished job: these aspirations and ambitions, cravings and desires? If, even in a state of dream my mind is active and I experience plight and elation; if, even after deep sleep, though my body is as good as dead, I can say: I slept well; then after death do I continue my life's journey in another realm? Very tricky these questions are, but all the same, very relevant and valid. In answer to these questions, religion is born.

The Answer

These questions try to express or manifest infinite through finite. They unconsciously try to bring back to us the memory of our true nature: our infinitude, perfect bliss, knowledge, and existence. Our every action tries to find immortality, infiniteness, and freedom amidst the obvious death, feeling of estrangement, and imprisonment. We rely on our senses to feel, think, and know. And the five senses cannot capture the infinite; for they are the limiting adjuncts; they are the very cause of distorting the Real! We experience all the joys and sorrows because of and through them.

We cannot jump out of them in ordinary level of consciousness. But there is a way out. This Nature, this world, which is the creation of our senses and our mind, can be torn apart by going beyond them. Within the realm of this world we would continue to seek joy, and suffer as we do in our present state of living. This world and Nature would not allow us to escape if we do not try to conquer them and go beyond them in a new world of superconscious state. This would herald the beginning of religion, or a better word would be spirituality. Spiritual quest means transcendental journey into the realm of that consciousness where intuitive knowledge opens the doors to a new and higher vision. However, try as we may, our genetic set-up does not allow us to accept this fact easily. And therefore, in spite of our longing for freedom we do not achieve the goal; we remain bound. As a story goes:

The Elusive Dollar

Two farmers stayed as neighbors in a small county. One of them was constantly busy in his activities, going to the farm and working laboriously day in and day out. Naturally, as a consequence, his financial position was sound. However, shouts of quarrels and family disturbances emanated from his house quite often, easily heard by the neighboring family.

Once the lady of the second house said to her husband, "Dear me, I often get the feeling that our neighbor is distressed because of some family problem. The couple is always tense and under stress. They quarrel quite often. Should we visit them and offer our help?" and added, "I do not feel money is a problem there, for their income appears to satisfy all their needs including quite a few luxuries which we definitely lack. No, no, I am not complaining about any want in our home!"

The second farmer had different mental bend. He was satisfied with whatever little he earned. He never desired for riches that were difficult to obtain. He knew that such riches come with mental and emotional sorrows. Assuring, he said to his wife, "My dear, do not lose your peace at the stressful life style of our neighbor. He suffers from a dreadful disease of modern age: the disease of 'Elusive Dollar'."

Unable to comprehend the meaning of the words of her husband, the lady asked, "What is this 'elusive dollar'?"

To this, the farmer replied, "Listen my dear, everyone, almost everyone, feels that he has collected ninety nine dollars. Thus a desire constantly lurks in their heart to obtain one more dollar that would make their assets to the desired hundred-dollar bill, a round figure! But that one-dollar never comes! It is elusive. It eludes everyone, rich as well as the poor. This is because that one-dollar has existence in the psyche and not outside. It is a state of mind where there is no end to desire. If he earns one more dollar, still it would make ninety-nine only, always; everyone is in search of that one dollar that has continued to elude mankind from ages."

The Solution: True Quest for Self Knowledge

The realization that the things of this world can never satisfy us, for it is in the nature of this world to throw up contradictions, makes us we turn away from name and fame, riches and wealth, luxury and comfort. We try to seek the answers somewhere else. And this is renunciation.
A story:

A lady went to the market and asked for one kilogram of happiness. The shopkeeper gave her two kilograms of material instead. The lady was puzzled; said, "Baba, I have asked for only one kilogram of happiness, but you have put two kilos of material. Please give me only one kilo."

The shop owner relied: "Madam, you must take one kilo of sorrow along with one kilogram of happiness. This is the rule of this market. In fact, for every unit of sorrow we give the same units of joy; it is a different matter that no one comes here to purchase sorrow."

The lady realized how till then even though she wanted only happiness, miseries always accompanied it. Like 'observe and reverse' of a coin pain and pleasure are inseparable. She was wise, and asked,
"Baba, is there no market where only pleasure is traded?"

"There is; but then you will have to go a long way; the path is difficult. You will have to give up whatever little joy you can purchase here."

'The fare gives us an idea about the distance,
we drop our plans to travel
when he tells us to forget the world.'

But seek we must! For a day is sure to come in everyone's life when he or she would tread that path to obtain that unalloyed joy, we call Bliss. This is the beginning of spiritual journey. First step in the land of religion; it assures Pure Bliss, Knowledge, and Truth.
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c s shah
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