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 Blooming Stars

Programming, Deprogramming and Reprogramming of the World –7

            After deprogramming the world in the physical realm was briefly dealt with in the context of my own deprogramming by way of eliminating unhealthy habits and inculcating new ones, I would like to broach the mental health of the world in the background of my own mental hygiene. My examination revealed that I had a socially desirable value system. My thinking was not in consonance with my feeling and my private world. In other words, my intellectual conviction did not translate into an emotional one. My feeling did not go all the way with my reasoning, and my feeling had quite some ways to catch with my thinking. So I had to examine my deeply ingrained prejudices and biases. I found there were quite a few. There were subtle discriminations on the basis of color, caste, creed, gender, and ethnic origin, that needed to be gotten rid of to be who I want to be and need to be out of my own well-thought out free choices and decisions. Once I was able to identify my covert and hidden issues based on my old programmed self and hypocrisy, and brought them to the surface, I was able to gradually and persistently deal with them. I am not fully done. I am only a work in progress. In this connection I came to realize I do not have to like all that I love.

            The spiritual realm is the most difficult and intractable one. Spirituality for most people is based on their religions, which in turn are based on clearly defined doctrines and dogmas. Religions are the most persistent, all-pervasive, enduring systems that program their adherents. Each religion has its own practices consisting of prescribed rites, rituals, and devotions. The pressure from one’s religion to conform is enormous. Guilt and eternal damnation hang over one’s head like the sword of Damocles. Either one believes the given official doctrines or dogmas or one does not. If one does not believe, one is condemned outright. In Islam, for instance, one’s ceasing to believe or one’s questioning the prophet or proponents of the tenets or changing one’s religion may cost not only ostracism but even death.

            Spirituality for most is based on these unquestioned and unquestionable doctrines and dogmas. If one does not go along with the doctrines or dogmas handed down from generation to generation, handed down from say, two millennia, one can be in serious trouble. Forget about doctrines and dogmas, one can be in serious trouble if one questions or does not follow the current arbitrary disciplines such as celibacy for priests, reservation of priesthood only for males in the Catholic church that do not have anything to do with doctrines and dogmas. Followers of religions do not mind abridging human rights to accommodate their rigid understanding of religion, spirituality, tradition, and God. God or religion does not need to be accommodated or programmed. Questions in the area of spirituality since it is tightly and seemingly inextricably intertwined with religions are not easily entertained. That is why it is so very important to separate spirituality from religions to find a common ground for all humanity.

            By no means I want to minimize or diminish the outstanding contributions religions made to tame humanity’s manifold, narcissistic, primitive, wild impulses, and to put humanity on various paths leading to spirituality and the Ultimate Meaning. Yet judging from the uncompromising positions and the unyielding directions that the major religions are taking, I do not think they are, without substantive changes, capable of delivering the goods, that is, bringing humanity to its final destination. The more we become aware of the limitations of religions, the more every religion is inflexibly entrenched in its own self-righteous position, the more we need to focus on spirituality as the last hope for humanity. It is also in order to remind ourselves that we have, with all good will on everyone’s part, made very little progress in the arena of ecumenism among world religions. Until religions get their act together in formulating a viable spirituality for all, it is imperative that we extricate spirituality from religions even at the risk of temporary confusion and dismay that many people may suffer on account of their own insufficient development and lack of awareness.

            The unfortunate reality is that religions have infantilized humanity. Spirituality beyond religions is the most important practical need of the hour to give some cohesion and concerted direction and purpose to humanity. Swami Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, and Mahatma Gandhi, in their own ways, pointed to a spirituality beyond religions. Pope John XXIII by opening the Catholic Church to let in fresh air for the much belated and needed changes through the historic Second Vatican Council, was attempting to move away from previous entrenched positions and dogmatism of the Catholic Church. It is also interesting that John Paul II, who with all his charisma tried to turn the clock back to the pre-Vatican II era is presented as a model through his recent beatification, rather than John XXIII who exuded hope for a new humanity. Currently I am not seeing any bold, visionary religious leader in the horizon who can mobilize people toward a spirituality of love, service, and hope for humanity. That means we cannot shirk from our own responsibility of being prophets to interpret the signs of the times.


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