Posts Tagged beliefs

Fast, feast and God

I was having lunch with a colleague, and as I waited for him to join me at the table with the food ordered from the café, I was surprised to find that he was having only fruit slices for lunch. Being a good eater myself, I asked him what the matter was, and he said, between mouthfuls, that he was fasting today since it was Shivaraathri. He went on to add disapprovingly, still between mouthfuls, that they – the caterers – did not offer any upvaas food on this occasion. (Did you notice the oxymoron in “upvaas food”?)

It’s sometimes really funny what we do in the name of God. We observe fasts in deference to Him; we also feast, delighting in His victory over evil (ignore, for a moment, that God has no good or evil, since He is above all attributes). Is it normal that human beings can starve themselves as well as gorge themselves in the name of one Divine entity? Does it even make sense?

My take on fasts is that they are useful for us, humans, in two ways:

  1. they help us keep our taste buds in check
  2. they give our digestive system a break from their daily, almost non-stop routine
  3. they’re useful in developing some sort of self-control

What do you think? Is there any hope for human beings at all in the light of such oddball behaviour?

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I believe

A long time ago, I heard from somewhere that happiness and sadness are merely different perspectives inspired by our current understanding of who we are and what we think will make us happy. Thus it is that the toy that made us ecstatic when we were toddlers does not even interest us when we were teenagers. With every passing event that makes me unhappy, I realize that they may perhaps be lessons reinforcing that very thought: that the whole of this life as we perceive it may be nothing more than a veil pulled over our eyes to prevent us from seeing the obvious truth (that’s borrowed from The Matrix, but it’s relevant here); that only when we are truly aware of our own selves can lasting happiness be ours. This realization fades in and out of my consciousness according as whether I’m happy or sad – when I’m happy, I’m usually unaware of it, though that’s not always the case. When I am sad, however, such thoughts flit across my mind more often. Perhaps Kunti Devi was right – it’s only when we’re really despondent that we tend to think of God.

I deeply, strongly believe that the way our brains are wired, the families we are born into, the skills / abilities we are born with, and the friends we acquire over our lifetimes are all determined by the law of karma; that genetics and inheritance are but tools of this law which is universal in its application; that this law is inescapable whether or not you believe in it; that it’s possible to transcend it only by a total realization of our true nature which is pure awareness; that we are all progressing towards such a state in our own individual ways. That whatever we do with our minds, we’ll fall short of It.

Does that mean I’m a fatalist and an advocate of inaction? Hardly! You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, even when things seem so pointless. Inaction is for the weak-minded and impotent, or those who chronically and endlessly wallow in self-pity.

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