Saturday, February 5, 2011

On Religion...

At one of my talks, where I spoke about the importance of right breathing and the benefits of measured and regulated breath on the functioning of the heart, I was asked a simple but profound question, “Is what you are talking about have anything to do with religion?”

When you talk about religion, there are endless opinions, just like there are endless waves on the surface of an ocean. Each wave is entitled to rise above the surface of the ocean and eventually has to merge back into the ocean. One wave does not make an ocean. Similarly each human thought is a wave on the ocean of collective human thought, which can also be thought of as human consciousness. Just as no two waves are the same, each human mind is a little different from another.

So using the mind and thought to find similarities among humans is difficult. To find similarities between waves, you have to sample ocean water present in waves. To find similarity between humans, you have to sample something that is the same in all. Breath is universal. We all have to breathe about 21, 600 times a day. From this breath, the body and mind acquire the power of thinking and doing. The breath does not dictate what you should and should not do. It only provides you with the basis of life. All have the equal freedom to chose how you think and generate thoughts.

Now, applying a similar argument, one can say that all religious ideas first originated as a human thought. All thoughts collectively belong to human consciousness and human consciousness exists because of our ability to breathe. Through the breath, one can see the oneness that pervades all of us.

Every religion has at least one beneficial teaching. Whether it applied when the religion was founded, whether it applies today or will be applicable in the future is immaterial. The teaching is there. How you use and apply it is up to you. Think of water. For the purpose of making something edible, whether it is solid or liquid, water is an universal requirement. Water can be turned into tea, coffee, juice etc. It can also be turned into a poisonous drink. If it is used for making a poisonous drink, fault does not lie with water, but the person making the drink. The same water can also be used to make an injectable medicine. A small quantity of this medicine leads to a cure, but a large quantity of the same medicine may be harmful. The doctor decides the right medicine in the right quantity for the appropriate illness.

Similarly, whether you are religious of not, take one teaching (eg. doing the right thing), decide if it is beneficial to you and others. If it is, then practice it. Just like you would need only one car to get to a destination, not ten, focusing on this one beneficial (to you and others) teaching will get you to your destination, inner peace. If a teaching is not beneficial to you or to others around you, think whether you want to adopt it. Finally, once you find a teaching that works for you, keep an open mind and don’t exclude other teachings from which others may derive benefit. If you carefully listen to your doctor of inner conscience, you will get suggestions regarding the appropriate teaching for you, in the right amount and at the right time.