Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Religiousness vs. Spirituality

Last few days a very pertinent question has been troubling me, in fact this question has been around for quite some time and I have tried to answer it in one possible way or other but have never been able to come up with a defining answer. The question though on the face of it seems small and insignificant but this dichotomy has started having a slight bearing on my personal life as well. I have carefully observed that in last few years I have refused or have been very reluctant to actively involve my self in any kind of religious festivals or visiting temples or any religious places, and have with a small reservation been participating in most of the well defined rituals. I have been searching for the answers but it has seldom come. The answer I guess has come in my visits to places close to nature where I feel empowered and spirited and closest to God. One such place is the picture that you see, a place that I have been visiting from last fours years and have never been able to get enough of it. In fact the more I visit this place the more enchanting it grows and the lure to visit again is stronger the ever.

The climb of the mountain and the sudden retreat, and the arrival at the valley with small streams flowing and if you are one of those really lucky ones to visit the place at the right time of the year….  A sea of butterflies of all hues and colour would welcome you. After a further lurch what awaits you is an enchanting waterfall and if you happen to be as adventurous type as me and dare to take a dip in icy cold water then it’s an almost holy experience. Also my once in a year or two, visit to the mountains of Sikkim ( The Himalayas) where I trek almost to the foothills of Mt. Kanchanjunga is as power an experience as it gets. At the edge of cliff you realize the distance between life and death is less then an inch. Also the huge mountain ranges stretching beyond the point your eyes can see, the breathtaking view, the chill of air all but make you very vulnerable. The small act like looking at the sun every morning and gaining strength has actually become one of the most important task of the day.

The whole feeling that comes with it when realization dawns that your existence is almost less then a speck of dust or next to insignificant and that you are in all respect is one with nature and in a way god

It also gives you a different kind of high, a kind which no drug on earth can give and also has a more lasting affect then any thing else.

On the contrary going to the places of worship does not have a similar affect; it does give the feeling of tranquility and peace but cannot match the aura of being close to the nature.

Being religious or spiritual is still a tricky question; I believe that different religions of the world have been given a form and well defined structure so that man can live in a society which I think is very important. Also with evolution of man, the culture and norms have also evolved in a way that it suits the modern times and the contemporary lifestyle. These cultures bind us and give us an uniqueness… for the regular readers if you can remember my article on “Indian way of Life”. At the same time I firmly believe that one can remain fully ingrained to culture and also be deeply spiritual in his on way which has nothing to do with religion and rituals.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Audacity of Hope

Watching Obama speak yesterday on CNN was the kind of fodder for my soul that i was yearning for a very long time. More often that not we get so much caught up with our day to day activity that we tend to forget the real we and the goals that we have set for ourselves until there is a moment of revelation and the reality dawns on us. One such inspiring and eye opening speech was the yesterdays address to the congress. Here was a leader who was willing to call a spade a spade, who was willing to travel that extra mile, who was willing to take risk and hard decisions and was willing to do whatever it takes to build the house on the rocks and not house on the sand.
I have been trying to read the book " The Audacity of Hope" by Obama and what stuck me most was the clarity of thought and an honest approach to solving the problems faced by today's generation. I am not sure how much of that will translate into real economic recover and wealth generation but even if 20% of what he said can be put into action and implemented, it would surely take America and the world to newer heights of economic development. In his speech he also talked about the current state of the world where we look for shortcuts, instant gratification, quick results just like fast food and ATM Cards but the road to recovery would be long and painstaking, more troubled times ahead, more pain and heartburn's but there is a glimmer of hope and light at the end of tunnel.
I myself is a die hard optimist and share Obama's optimism in the future of the world. We have seen the world emerging stronger from the catastrophic events like World War I & II, The great Depression, the Hiroshima Bombing, the various natural calamity that has befallen our planet time and again and i have all the reason to believe that if the direction and the leadership is right it will only emerge stronger. It is also the fact that we don't live in a unipolar world with America being the only superpower, emerging economies like China, India, Brazil are the next hotbed of powers but for us to reach the next levels the world leaders has to share the vision that Obama has.
His vision and the road map outlined in 5 pillars for the foundation of economic recovery is the way to go...namely:-
1) New rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation
2) New investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive
3) New investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and industries
4) New investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses
5) New savings in federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations. 
 As someone had said..."Extraordinary times require Extraordinary actions" lets hope these are more then words and translate into action and the audacity of hope will someday be reality for the world.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April Fool's Day

There is a famous saying which says " You can fool some people all the time, you can fool all the people some time but you cant fool all the people all the time" am not very sure how relevant that saying is in today's scenario

In India nothing gets bigger then elections, the mother of all event and festival. We are scheduled for voting in next 15 days and the whole country is already in a tizzy. From television to newspaper, sms campaign to portering, street talks to roadside rumors, no stone is left unturned by these wily politicians. In one of those election rallies i heard one of them make such promises that if he were to come to power things would change for ever, no one will ever sleep hungry and all will be literate, just the kind of Ethiopian world that Shri Ravindranath Tagore had imagined ( Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...where knowledge is free). It doesn't matter what he did in last five years, the kind of corruption charges he faces, doesn't matter the fact that his constituency has shown a negative growth, this person has the audacity to face the public with shameless arrogance and impunity. The most surprising thing is that the poor public will again buy into his argument, may be this candidate will be re-elected and in all probability things are going to get worse.

Having heard him speak i wondered why people celebrate April fool's day on 1st of April. I am sure that there is some crazy reason for doing so and if you search wikipedia you would know, but the point is we get fooled all the time. Why blame these poor people, the so called upwardly mobile, learned, opinion makers of the society are no less impressionable then any of them. American citizens have been the biggest fools of the century and when the fed said that nothing can go wrong with their economy knowing very well that some day bubble will burst, they all seemed to believe him. United States have also been sucessful in fooling the world, we all know that the Taliban is the creation of America and its allies, but no one is willing to look at the real issue. The whole invasion of Iraq was a sham, the weapons of mass destruction was never to be found because there wasn't any. One can easily say it to be the oil diplomacy of worst kind and yet Bush was re-elected by the wise Americans. Sometimes i think that the whole concept of organized religion is basically to fool people for some grave, vested interest. The world has always been fooled by some kind of conspiracy theory and its seems that there is no end to that. The big corporations like Enron, WorldCom and now Satyam have fooled people for decades and i am sure many more are party to this act. The politicians fool us all the time and we get fooled all time.

To my mind the April fools day should have a broader connotation and world over it should be recognized as a national holiday, it should be a month long celebration with lots gusto and funfair paying homage to those who have left us gullible and week. What do you guys think....