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 Blooming Stars

Sin and Salvation

            What I am going to write here may put organized religions out of business. Organized religions have been, in one way or another, vendors of their version of salvation. They use sin and karma (the compelling force in Hinduism and Buddhism coming out of one’s actions giving determined direction to series of existences through re-births before final liberation) as the big items to induce fear and to cash in on. They emphasize the negative side of humanity – what is lacking in humanity – that needs to be redeemed through their formula. They create a God of fear and punishment to motivate persons and to maintain them in their ranks. I have arrived at this conclusion after over 60 years of serious studies, reflection, and religious commitment. The leaders of organized religions and the God-men and -women of fame in contemporary life tell unreflecting people not to question their prescriptions, rites and rituals, and doctrines and dogmas.

            They want the over-whelming majority of persons to be numbed out of rational existence through strict compliance with their instructions. Why would God want to create a humanity that in exercising the given freedom would end up in the deep irrevocable trouble of original sin from the get-go? I am not convinced that the first parents of the Bible (Adam and Eve, if they ever existed) had the knowledge of the gravity of their act – disobedience – to deserve the harsh punishment they were given. I do not expect the misbehavior of the first parents to visit on their progeny. I do not believe that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament depicted by Christ. Christ only asked the people of his time to repent and change to repent and to change their ways to affect the Kingdom of God.

            After writing this I and the other ashramites (inmates of the spiritual center) got a stern call from our mataji (ashram mother) in the kitchen to come and eat the hot and delicious American pizza that she prepared for us before she would leave for the US on the following day. She did not want the pizza to be cold in the damp and cold monsoon weather of Munnar (Kerala). I reluctantly left for the dinner as my mind was still on the unfinished writing. Then it quickly dawned on me that my ranting and raving for one more piece of writing, perhaps, is not going to make all that difference. After dinner and cleaning up we all decided not to have the customary satsang (coming together to share and pray) after dinner as we had a long satsang and Eucharistic worship earlier in the day being Sunday. I decided to retire early thinking of the long and cumbersome drive to the airport on the following day.

            I went to bed, had a dream related to the unfinished article. In the dream a real God-man is giving a stunning, very difficult to describe God-experience without much verbal explanation and fan-fare. I got up at 2:40 am to describe my experience. The God-man in the dream was a Jesuit. Was he, perhaps, Tony de Mello whom I knew as both of us belonged to the Common Works of the Jesuits, and who was censored by the Vatican Curia for integrating spiritual masters from other religions? Was he the present Jesuit Pope who, at least so far, has striven to put the teachings of Christ into practice? The gist of the experience for me was that the God-man was blending a powerful brew gotten out of the un-adorned and un-embellished essence of the teachings of Christ and Buddha with the core of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

            Interestingly, Christ, who was a theist revealed God, his compassionate Father described in the parable of the Prodigal Son, tore down the prevailing Jewish religious structures of his day. Buddha, who was an atheist, tore down the Hindu religious structures of his day. The former proclaimed the Kingdom of God, the latter Enlightenment that can be attained by all one’s own effort. Of course I wondered about the hoopla of men and women meticulously packaged by their handlers working healing miracles in vast retreat centers and assemblies, spiritual havens, and on television networks! Looks like the god-men and – women have been gobbled up by the consumer society, and already have had their rewards on earth. Or, perhaps, the god-persons and their countless followers see me as indulging in rationalizations like the fox of the fable calling the un-attainable grapes sour.

            Anyway, two things that were of paramount importance to give much-needed clear direction to humanity are: 1. Formation of a clear conscience dominated by love and compassion, and guided by fundamental values common to all humanity, 2. Exposure of all to the spiritual tenets of major religions. Armed with an uncompromising conscience and knowledge of scriptures, everyone can focus on spirituality and prepare for God-experience without sensationalism and hype. We can have God-experience without too many God-peddlers and mediators dispensing God’s grace. Bliss and being with God are our birth-rights. We can already have these rights now in varying degrees of light and awareness. God is Light and we are lights on account of our relation to God. Let us enjoy our bliss.

 

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