Friday, April 29, 2016

Matching Heartbeats


“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature,” declared Joseph Campbell, illustrious mythologist.  Myths, rituals, and prayers help in making our heartbeats match the beat of the universe. 

It’s about the harmony between oneself and the world outside.  It’s about discovering the meaning of that world in  spite of its apparent harshness, absurdity, and terror.  It’s about discovering the harmony between the self and the universe.

Literature has helped me much in the process of discovering that harmony.  Any good work of literature makes me probe the defences I have erected against painful truths about me as well as the world outside me.  Good literature chips away those defences.  Truth is revealed through a alchemical process.  Good literature also has the potential to heal the ruptures caused by the chipping away of the facile inner illusions and self-delusions.  Good literature takes the reader beyond his “intellectual games and ego-preserving strategies,” to use Rollo May’s phrase.

Source: Here
What literature does for me, religion may do for many others.  That’s why I don’t question people’s faith.  Religious rituals, superstitious as they appear to a rationalist, have many psychological functions to fulfil. The sacred thread given by the priest at the temple and attached to the bike may not have any power to save the rider from accidents as far as science and logic are concerned.  But the faith of the rider in that piece of string has magical powers.  Magic lies in the heart of the believer.  Magic lies in his faith.

I am unable to accept religion and its rituals simply because they don’t resonate with my heartbeat.  In fact, my heartbeat goes berserk when I’m faced with religion most of the time.  I endure the agony of dissonant beats because of circumstances.  I’m a hypocrite to the extent I endure that agony.  I pretend to the society around me that I’m religious so that I don’t hurt their sentiments.

I wish the religious people possessed the same magnanimity.  The magnanimity to respect other people’s beliefs or lack of them, other people’s practices however stupid they may appear to an observer.  The problem with religion is the lack of that magnanimity among believers.

That is because, I think, for most people religion stops at being that magical thread on the bike or some such miraculous symbol and nothing deeper, nothing that has touched the core of their hearts making the beats resonate with those of the universe.


PS. Written for Indispire Edition 115 #rituals which asked the question: “We Indians give too much importance to rituals...visiting a temple on a particular day , fasting for religious reasons...are these relevant in this age ? or they are just a solace to fight our fears and insecurities ?” [Maya Varde]


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14 comments:

  1. I was nodding throughout the post. :)

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  2. it is the tuft of hope that hangs on to you whilst you struggle to saty alive from the edge of the cliff!

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    1. For many that's true. Hope is what sustains people and religion is very effective in nurturing hope. I rely more on reason. I use reason even to fight my pessimism and deep-rooted cynicism.

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  3. I prefer literature to organised religion. However, I wouldn't mind some quiet time with prayer also. We all want hope. We all want to know its going to be Okay. We all want to figure it out. But when religion becomes a business and rituals becomes its marketing tools and its eligibility criteria, then its starts getting a bit irritating. Maybe people feel they need to earn their blessings and doing a ritual as prescribed by the 'religious order' is just the thing.

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    1. Prayer can work psychological wonders. I don't disagree. What if there's no God as long as our belief is working well for us? After all, the only good thing gods can do is to help us with this stupid life here on the earth. :)

      Unfortunately even gods have been converted into good business. Bad business, if you like to see it that way. Gods are running educational institutions today - I mean their people are doing it. In the same way, gods are running hospitals, art of living, counselling, and what not. Religion is a big comedy or tragedy depending on your outlook.

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  4. I spent a good amount of my adult life being a spectator of various religious rituals without believing in any of them. I thought... If it makes my dear ones happy I am happy to play along, but now I am past that phase too :-)

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    1. You are fortunate. There are many who are caught in a web woven by the society and relatives...

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  5. Totally agreed! During tough times, I've always sought solace in literature! I'd always prefer a Hermann Hesse novel over a prayer!

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    1. Happy to come across another Hesse fan, though my all-time favourites are Dostoevsky, Kafka, Camus, and Kazantzakis. Still 'Siddhartha' remains top in my list as does 'Narcissus and Goldmund.'

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  6. Ah.....how I have agreed with you on this. Literature has been to me that light at the end of a dark tunnel. Religion has hardly helped. But it i okay if people around me differ from my beliefs. I have problem when those beliefs make one superstitious and sorry to use the loaded word here -'intolerant'.

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    1. Superstition is understandable because it goes with ignorance and helplessness. Gods are particularly useful for such people! Intolerance is terrible because it has nothing to do with genuine religion. In fact, the intolerant are using religion as a political tool. It has happened throughout history.

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