April 26, 2008

Where does your faith stand?

COUPLE OF months back, my friend and I were walking back home from college during which we landed on talking about God. The walk began getting interesting when I inquired about his faith and belief in God. He was a Hindu.
"God...?...," he said, "we've got so many gods and as statistics say, around a million..."
"Wow," I replied, "so which one do you believe in?"
"Me...for me all gods are one and believing in any specific god as such varies from people..."
"Yes, I do know that, but which god exactly do you believe in?"
"Well....being born and brought up in Mumbai, I believe in Ganesh."
"What about other gods?"
"Its really confusing, man! So many gods! You choose the one that's comfortable for you or the one which your family upbringing acquaints you with..."
"Ok...I heard that each of these gods have levels or positions and very few people worships the god that exists right at the top, while most of the people are comfortable worshiping the others..."
"huhh...this is news to me...is there such thing as the greatest god in our religion....maybe no one told me such a thing....yeah maybe there could be a god over the other gods...who knows?"
"hey...that's fine....its ok..I, too, heard it from someone else and maybe its not true. Anyways, tell me, do you think that each of the gods are passionate about his people?"
"We know that each of these gods have their own group of people worshiping them..."
"If they are passionate about their worshipers, don't you think that if they worship any other god, they will be hurting the feelings of the earlier god....you understand...its like giving the other god more preference than the earlier one..."
"No....all gods are one....ya...but it could be true...?"
"So, do you think worshiping more than one god can make the latter god sad and feel deprived seeing you worship someone else other than him...?"
"Yes...but who knows..after all they are gods...myths... no one has any evidence about these things and all the texts are mere writings by people... or myths. Even Christianity....can you prove its authenticity...no, isn't it...what evidence do you have about the authenticity of the scripts."
"Authenticity...they are authentic, written by people who were inspired by God. There are many scrolls from ancient times still available..."
"But...you know that these writings could be framed very craftily...could be just a story or a fable written by people...its like they frame a story with an end result in mind"
"No..what will it profit them writing a fable and expect people to believe in it. On the other hand a fable cannot inspire, transform and change people. The Bible did!!!"
"Frankly, I'm really confused. Actually, I really don't believe in god, as such. Because my upbringing and situation compels me to believe in one, I blindly do so. I also don't know my scriptures well and have no big interest to find out more on the same. Just chuck the topic...its landing to no conclusion. Maybe we can talk on this later. There...I've reached home....bye.."

COUPLE of days ago I was on my way back from classes and was coming back home along with my college friend. He was a Jain by religion. Jains are those extremists kind of people who believe that even killing a tiny creature such as a germ is a sin. They do not tolerate any kind of violence. We were talking about our schedule for studies when curiously he put forth a question,
"Don't you go
too many times to church?....I mean is there some kind of a necessity or compulsion on you?"
"No, rather its my wish...," I said, "It completely depends on me to go or not...."
"Compulsion in the sense of your parents forcing you?"
"No, I go regularly because it is my wish"
"Ok...," kind of surprised looking, he replied.
"What about you? Doesn't your religion compulse you to go regularly and worship god?"
"hehe....I barely remember the last time, I went to a Jain temple. On the other hand there is no compulsion as such."
"Why? Don't you have an interest or are you too busy?"
"Its not the question of being busy. I can take out time if I want. But things just don't happen."
"Your parents would be going regularly, wouldn't they?"
"They go more frequently than I do though they are not regular."
"Do you people worship one god or many gods?"
"We have 24 important or main gods whom we worship...maybe there are more gods... I don't know"
"So do you worship all these gods or any one?"
"Nah....we worship the god that is there in our temple. In different temples there are different gods. We worship the ones that are kept in our temple."
"That day I saw you go along with my other friends to worship a Hindu god."
"That really doesn't matter. All gods are one. Whether Hindu or Christian or Jain. I remember going to church when I was small...."
"But do you know, what you are doing contradicts each other..."
"I did....didn't understand?"
"What I meant was, on going to a church you accept a fact that there is only one God but at the same time, on going to a temple would mean that you are accepting the presence of millions of gods. As clearly seen, the ideas of each, completely contradict each other."
"No...that's not what I believe in...all gods are one...it doesn't matter in whom you worship."
"Anyways, tell me more about your god."
"these were people who were in this earth long time before but people never did any sin and thus through their good deeds, after death, became gods."
"These people attained "moksh" or "salvation" because of which they are gods."
"So can that matter to you...I mean, can you also get "moksh"?"
"Maybe...if I live a completely sacred life."
"If you manage to do so, you will attain "moksh" and become god."
"But you just said that gods have attained moksh"
"Yeah...but..," a bit confused, "do you know something, I really don't know much about these things. What I have been told, I believe in it."
"Ok, so are you convinced in what you believe in?"
"That's good. Now coming back to the point that man became god due to his good deeds..."
"Do you believe that God is the creator of this world?"
"So if he is god everything that you see around here, even the ground that you stand on, is created by him."
"Yes," he said confidently.
"Now, man became god. But when he was still man, he was living on something called as 'earth', which you claim was created by god. If earth existed even before god came into existence, then there should been a god before that who would have created the earth."
"Yeah,,,I'm getting your point..." completely confused and yet unsure, he said.
"Now look at the other side, if man became god, god would too have limitations as man."
"its possible, who knows?"
"So you see the theory of man becoming god cannot actually be possible. On the other hand god becoming man could be better reasoned out."
"Dude, see I am not sure at all on these things. What our religious teachers communicate to us, that's what we believe in."
"That's fine..."
"Fine??.....I am really ashamed. I do not know my scriptures well. You know your scriptures well...."
"Then why don't you get back to your scripture rather than blindly believing in what others say."
"Its a big work. Our religion consists of a number of texts and reading that would take ages. And I got no time for that now. Studies is more important. Religion will come into play when I turn old....maybe then..."
"Maybe you won't be alive till then"
"Yeah that can also happen. You've really made me think today and the topic is very interesting though arguable. I've got to go now....bye...."

TWO personal experiences with my friends I have penned down here. You would have been able to judge how firm their belief was in their religion. Tomorrow if someone comes and asks you about your faith and religion, will you be able to prove it and stand for it? I am convinced in what I believe in and can prove myself, too. Will you be able to do the same, irrespective of which religion you belong to, can your faith take a test of fire? Its up to you to decide.

April 01, 2008

Three things my Father told me

LIFE TRULY brings you the best. What may be the worst in your sight is all in God's plan,the best he had planned for you. Life is really very interesting when you are able to educate yourself with the small things that happen in your daily life. It is then that you realize the beauty of the things that God has ordained life to offer an unique creation of his.

My father is one person who I admire a lot. He's really slow to speak and swift to listen, pondering carefully on the things that he has heard and then speaking out wisely. Its a very good quality to possess and not a few pursue it. through this past year, I recollect my experiences with him and take back with me three things he told me which marked a phase in my life.

BEING IN one of the most crucial years of one's life (as some may say), studying was everything. After a couple of months of continuous classes for around 6 to 7 hours a day, studies really would get a hold on my nerve. Bored and stressed out, I would frantically try finding out a way to relieve this stress of mine. It was then when I resorted to computer games, as a source of stress relievement. Things were fine for a while till i started getting hooked on to it and started becoming desperate, if I didn't get to play it. My mother would get frustrated and would complain that I was becoming an addict to gaming. Well, I still debate on being called an addict for I hated such a comment because it brought out the guilt feeling in me and made it hard for me to accept my condition.

Hearing such comments, I would start feeling very uncomfortable because my ego wouldn't allow itself being subjected to humiliation. Thus to suppress such comments, I would rather ignore these wordsand continue on doing the thing I liked the most. Later, on my mother insisting my father to take some action, I was asked by them to refrain from using the computer. But the crave was just too much for me to handle, and somehow I would find my way through to sit on it for at least half an hour.

One fine day, or should I say, one bad day, when I exceeded the time alloted to me to sit on the computer, my mother, frustrated, called up my father at office. Adding a pinch of salt to the complaints (as usual). she fired them through the phone line to my father. My father, quite upset, requested her to hand over the phone to me.

The next thirty seconds, he gave me a stern piece of advicewhich really shook me. He exclaimed, "Its gone far enough. Remember you are living in my house and if you got to live in it, you GOT to live by the rules layed down for it!!"

It was as if I was a stranger to him at that moment. 'Our House' had become 'His House' to him and well, it was like as if I was a paying guest or someone like that. Those words reallt pierced through me. I was really saddened hearing such a statement proceed out of my very own father's mouth. Would he have to do such a harsh thing to discipline me? What was once a mere entertainment had somehow turned into an addiction which then started controlling my life by laying down its own norms and regulations all the while making me lay aside the rules layed down for me in the house. But as time passed by, those words worked within me as a cure to my addiction. not fearing the consequences if I disobeyed his word, but looked forward to obey his voice and avoid the unthinkable. Though gaming still is a passion in me, I have learned to not allow the game to control me but rather play it as mere entertainment.

BEING AN active member among our youth group in church, I would find myself regularly engagedin various activities. I really had a desire to see the youth of our assembly growing together spiritually. My freind and I had prepared a feedback form for the youth gatherings, for the youth to fill in their suggestions and areas of concern which they desired to find a solution to. It wasn't an easy job as it required a huge input of time and efforts.

At the same time, tests were going on in my classes and I had to prepare for it. The marks I got in my previous tests were disgusting and I'd always commit myself in getting better marks in the next test. However, things would never work out as planned,and I showed no signs of improvement. It was during these tests, I was penning down the information for the youth meetings. That day, I fared miserably in the test and I had given up all hopes of faring well in the next test. Since I was stressed out, I thought I'll take a break for sometime with my friend and get those feedback forms sorted out to which my father echoed a ready 'NO'. But since I had to go to the market, I informed my mother that I'll be coming a little late, the purpose behind which was not disclosed. A trip to the market and back would not take more than 15 minutes, but for me, as it seemed to them, it took half an hour.

On informing the reason behind the delay, my parents got very upset. Firstly, I had gone down without taking the permission of my dad and secondly my mother had asked me to first take permission from my dad, to which I gave a deaf ear. My father was very angry for not listening to him. he didn't know what to say. As I took my books and pretended to start studying, he loudly muttered some words which really broke my heart. He said in a low tone, " You fooled me....you fooled me...." his face had turned red and he walked out of the room with a tear in his heart. I felt really ashamed and disgusted with myself for having been unfaithful to his word. I was the most trustworthy person in the house but at that time I had brought down all the respect to dust. Not only did he lose his trust on me but also was he broken from within. Not only did he shed a tear that day but even God. For what? Why did the whole thing happen at the first place? Because I disobeyed and went to do something that I considered as a spiritual effort rather than an activity. God would've never been honored by those efforts of mine because I rebelled against the voice of my parents. Its here when I learned, "Its better to obey than to sacrifice."

AMBITIONS AND goals are set by everyone in their lives. The decision that one makes regarding his carrier is one of the most crucial decisions he has to make. However, in my case life hasn't been so pleasant with me in helping me to decide for myself a carrier. Hundreds of different options around, but I didn't know which was the best path I could adopt for myself. It was always my desire to do something creative and different, but never knew where i could apply my potential to the maximum extent. I would really envy those people who would strive hard to achieve their goals. I would feel really ashamed when someone ask me as to what is my preference after I graduate from High school because I would've no answer. I soon lost interest in studying hard too.

Couple of days back I was recollecting the number of times my friend would ask the church to pray for him for his exams. This really made me feel ashamed as I had never asked God till then to help me find out the best carrier I was eligible to. That night I sincerely expressed my heart towards God and asked him to guide me in choosing a carrier. The reply came very soon and in the most unlikely manner.

The last of all the tests that I had to give had ended and I still showed no signs of improvement. My father was really disappointed at my performance. That night, he switched off the T.V. early and gave me a 10 minute lecture. What he told me perfectly made sense. He really didn't have much to say but what he said was this, "I've got a plan for you....but....you are not studying hard...." The rest that he told me, I barely bothered to listen to. But the one statement really stuck in my mind. No one had ever told me such kind of a thing before and no one ever showed an interest in helping me find out a carrier for myself. I was so comforted and happy within to know that even before I asked for help there was already someone searching out for me the best carrier that suited my likings. It was something that charged me up to put in my hard efforts. Why do I have to take thought about tomorrow when there is already someone who is concerned about my tomorrow.

That night as I thanked God I remembered his words, "Take no thought saying what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we be clothed with? For your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things." (Matt 6:30, 31)
"Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right"...not because God commanded us to do so, but because it is a servie that brings joy and pleasure to both the parents and God.