Faith is never random. Faith is universal. It's just that our specific methods for understanding it is arbitrary. Some of us believe in salvation or nirvana, others in heaven, yet others believe that they shall go to heaven only by taking the lives of innocent 'infidels' along with them. (Ah, the roads to destruction are too many to be counted.) And for how many decades have people been fighting for their own faiths? Trying to get others to believe what they believe.....why do they do it, I wonder, is it so important to be multitude? Why do we not realize that in the end we are all just searching for a truth that is far greater than ourselves.
Why do we have to belong? Why do others want us to belong? I admire people who have faith...I have seen what faith can do to you...walk bare feet up a craggy mountain or wear sack cloth and ashes and sleep on stone or whip yourself bloody....it's all faith. It's what one person believes over all others that propels him to follow some strange customs or rituals put in place by some perverted individuals that thought only in punishing our bodies do we attain some degree of truth. So I really admire all those who pray, who believe that God will rescue them from evil, real or imagined. And they organize themselves together and go about their business in the name of religion...
It's fine by me till here. You have your faith and I have mine, you go your way and I am free to believe in the lack of a "way" and make my own. Yet, sadly, that is not so. Right from our childhood, we are required to belong. In school, I got into trouble because I left the space for religion blank. I ultimately compromised by writing my father's religion and not my own.....At every stage of our lives we have to fill up the blank for religion. We are even judged by what we fill. I do wish people would quit that. For most people it is automatic, they are brought up to believe what their fathers believed, no questions asked. In my case, I came from a family where my mother was a non practicing Christian who went to Church maybe once a year for Midnight Mass and my fathers was a non practicing Hindu who did not believe in the fuss of rituals and prayers. We had no deities or puja rooms in our house, we were given information on both religions and given the freedom to decide without actually being told to do so. True to the tag of being a "difficult" child, I chose neither. For a while I toyed with the idea that there is no God but even in my addled brain I knew that there was, however, a truth far bigger than ourselves. So my God does not smile beatifically from a cross nor does she stick her tongue out at me from the top of decapitated heads....my God exits in peace within myself without any form or image. Where I dwell is my God. As I think so is He (or She or It for that matter!).
But that does not solve my problems with rituals, I do not believe in them. I refuse to bow down before an image or idol or go on a mindless fast be it for my family or anyone else. But I do so quietly for I have no wish to hurt the beliefs or feelings or others. I do not feel the need to shout what I think from rooftops nor do I want people to understand me. I am at peace with myself and wish everyone would just do everyone else the same favour.
But no. We have killing, fighting and lectures in the name of religion. We have all kinds of evil just because everyone wants others to cut off their tails just as they have. THAT is what makes me angry. And frustrated.
Faith does not protect you. Medicines and airbags, these are the things that protect you, and that too not always. Ask the 18 year old who died in the car accident, the Tsunami victims, or the children dying in the earthquakes. No, God does not protect you. Intelligence does. And enlightenment. One should put their faith in something with tangible results. How long has it been since someone walked on water? Or balanced a mountain on a single finger? Modern miracles belong to science...computers, medicines, vaccines; we have instruments to warn us of dangers, natural or otherwise, yet nothing prepares us for the calamities that follow.
And we cling to faith.
Like drowning men we cling, yet so few of us have faith in ourselves. In our own strength, in our own ability to make a difference.
I believe that doing one's duty or karma is enough. "When you live by the highest you know, however it turns out, it turned out right" (Richard Bach). So I do what I have to. When required to teach my girls, I do it although it means re learning Bengali again. I ensure there is food on the table (and beer in the fridge!). I do my best for my clients and solicitors when I am acting on their behalf. I even go to the puja room at 4 am to cut fruits for a God I do not believe in. It's all a part of my life, of who I am. My thoughts I keep to myself. My beliefs too.
Does it really matter, that I do not "belong"?