Its been a busy two weeks. Busy being lazy! Went to Yellowstone for Memorial day weekend and had a great time. Will post photos once I get my laptop fixed.
In the meanwhile I have been reading a lot on philosophy/religion. In response to my previous post, I had lot of people complaining about my assertions that "I know a lot" about religions! True, I'm hardly a theologian. When I say "I have read about a religion", it normally means several 'Breadth First' readings of Wikipedia articles. With few books, novels and mirchi debates with friends also thrown in.
For example, at this moment I'm reading a novel called 'The Haj' (on the fate of Palestinian Arabs during the Zionist movement), have almost given up Orhan Pamuk's 'Snow' as a lost cause and keeping 'The Secrets of the Vedas' and the proverbial 'India, a History' by John Keay for some light reading. Next week I'll be starting 'A sourcebook in Indian Philosophy'. Edited by Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, it contains excerpts from many important works in Indian Philosophy. Is this level of reading enough to form opinion about religions and gurus? Well, I think so.
Considering that I'm now a self declared supporter of anything French and that I live in California, its only natural that I should try some wine! And so I did on my Yellowstone trip with 'White Zinfandel'. It was horrible! I have always ridiculed my friends who drink 'rotten flora juices'. Now I have personal evidence that this thing really sucks. Anyway one of my friends tried to impress me with this, "Truth is bitter, so is alcohol. Hence Alcohol is truth!". Although I brushed aside that inebriated quip, it helped me to form an interesting theory about God.
This is how it works. Wine tastes really bad, period. The drunkards claim that once you drink more and more, you'll start liking it. i.e You'll like wine when you are addicted to it! Sorry guys, I'm not that stupid. Anyway, isn't that the same with ones belief in God? Anyone who has had some education or has given it a fair bit of thought can be reasonably certain that God doesn't exist. Or he can atleast never buy the cock and bull stories that our religions sell about God. The only reason most of us believe in God or claim to believe in God is because our parents and society have made us addicted to it! So I now claim God = Alcohol. Anyone in his stable state won't like either of them. Others are in 'excited' states!
Few months ago, on a trip to Patagonia Lake in Arizona, another friend of mine was trying to convince us to go boating. None of us can swim! So I offered the logical retort that "I'm not ready to drown yet!". This led to a 'philosophical' debate on "what do we have to lose if we die today?" Yesterday he returned to the topic. "Will it be so bad if we commit suicide?". In most cases, it'll indeed be bad. Even ignoring our personal loss, it will cause devastation to our parents and other loved ones. But what about orphans who have no personal bonds and in many cases lead a wretched life? Is it ok for them to commit suicide? Well, obviously myself and my friend do not believe in life after death. For us death is the end of our physical and spiritual existence.
Now the question is, does Suicide = Moksha? Come to think of it, all these Sadhus try real hard to get out of family bonds. Material possessions are anyway easy to lose. So when you have nothing left to care about, are we ready to attain Moksha? If you are familiar with the 'northening' concept (vadakkiruththaL, in Tamil, popularlised by that koperunjcholan - pisiraanthaiar story) or the Jain 'Sallekhana', aren't those folks trying to commit suicide? If so why are our laws in general and religions like Islam in particular against suicides?
While you do that assignment you can also send me answers on 'Whats wrong, if at all, with polytheism?' for extra credits.
Footnote 1: It should be obvious that I'm agnostic. But I do understand why 'Man created God!'. I have read in someone's blog that "Agnostics are atheists without ba**s". So I call myself Atheist. Now this doesn't stop me from being a Hindu. Cool, isn't it?
Footnote 2: Did you know that Mormons believe the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri and that their founder Joseph Smith ran for US president?!!