This post is part of a Patheos Symposium exploring the “Good” of each of our various traditions.
At the outset, one needs to appreciate that the word “Religion” is related to the Abrahamic faiths more. Eastern spiritual traditions, which find their beginnings in Hinduism, are neither faiths nor religions. Hinduism is an amalgam of various spiritual traditions. The ways are different, the goals are different and the very way of looking at man, divine and life is different. Open Source, personal, subjective, experiential and not fixed in history via a person or event. Now, let us look at what is on offer from Hinduism. Something that is fundamental to human well being.
Is eternal bliss possible? The Enlightened have asserted that it is. It is possible to move beyond the roller coaster of life and its impacts. To fully understand the mechanism of bliss and human existence of dualities, one has to understand the fundamentals of life itself. Happiness is the closest that one comes to state of bliss, but it is a qualitative difference yet, not a quantitative one. You cannot be 10 times happier and equate it to bliss.
World has always looked to get blessings for the body and the mind. But both have been aggregations. One of the material we gathered as food and the other of the impressions and conditioning over one’s lifetimes. There is yet, a deeper memory. The memory that passes on via DNA. This memory is not just embedded in our molecular structures, but also one which can be created via our reactions to our life situations. If I react in a certain way to a certain event in my lifetime, that gets embedded in my software – and DNA – for my coming generations to live by. (Karma, the Stimulus-Reaction Memory structures and Nirvana from this bondage)
What is but a re-arrangement of temporary blocks cannot be saved for ever. Within this aggregated structure of Mind and Body, is another presence that provides intelligence to our existence. Something that knows how to make a piece of bread in my breakfast into me – a man, of certain structure and body type and lineage. That intelligence with its memory structures seems to transcend one lifetime and one being.
How does the interplay of life occur? In that understanding lies the key to the most fundamental questions of our misery and well being. Why does someone like Robin Williams – one of the funniest man in our generation – despite his ability to make anyone laugh at a moment’s notice commit suicide out of depression? Laughter and humor quite clearly aren’t equal to joy! Why does Michael Jackson, of the greatest entertainer and a great singer and dancer – despite his art and commitment to it, die such a horrible death?
World’s miseries are not all related to money. After all, the cave man lived a worse life than the poorest man today in many ways. How many of them committed suicides?
It is imperative to understand what life has to offer and how it can be harnessed to live to the full potential of a human being.
Many millennia ago in India, there was once a dacoit named Ratnakar. He would loot people and those who tried to fight he would kill them. Once he came upon a Sage. He asked him to give him his entire stuff to him and go his way. The Sage offered it to him and asked him why he lived such a life? “To feed my family”, he said. The Sage asked “But will your family partake in the consequences of the deeds of looting and violence that you are doing?”. Ratnakar was adamant they would. “Well, why don’t you go ask them?” the Sage avered. Ratnakar ran and asked his wife and kids if they would partake in the consequences? The answer was a clear no! Shocked, he struggled back a changed man! That walk back transformed him. He was then initiated into a meditation practice and Ratnakar eventually became one of the most celebrated Sage to have walked the planet – Sage Valmiki!
Hinduism’s greatest gift was Human Transformation. It was realized very early that edicts, commandments and morality cannot bring permanent and real transformation. These are pretentions, which can at best change a person’s outward behavior for sometime. Afterall, the societies which ban alcohol are the very ones, where most liquor is consumed, albeit via black market. Those who push for celibacy are often caught with their pants down in the most uncompromising situations!
If one need not be told to “Love thy kid”, then why does a person need to told to “Love thy neighbor”? Just because one has included the kid in one’s own “influence” and excluded the neighbor? Why? Because of either blood or marriage! If the only reason to instinctively hate someone (so the need to be reminded to love) is that one is not related by blood or marriage, then quite simply – your humanity is constipated!
Morality pretends to help those who have constipated humanity!
If their humanity flowered, can they stay away from not being influenced by the love and compassion towards another being? Even animals are known to shelter others out of compassion!
Therefore, instead of forwarding band-aids and pretended ways, Hindus looked deeper and aimed for Human Transformation. That quest led to Yoga and meditation. Practices and technologies of inner space that can transform many physically and at much deeper levels if worked on properly.
Technologies that are subjective and of the inner space cannot be patented or frozen in history. One man or one event cannot hold patents to the doorways of bliss. Unlike the religions that came from the Middle East, Eastern mysticism (which was largely shaped by Hinduism) did not give one man (no matter how great or learned) the license to hold all the keys. For, if bliss is to be rented, then it isn’t the divine bliss anymore. Everyone should be the complete owner and experiencer of that bliss. So “rent-a-bliss” models were never used. Instead everyone was brought to a level where bliss was a personal state.
This idea of Open Source Spiritual Architecture – where personal journey of Spiritual growth leading to transformation for everyone irrespective of geography, personality, society or background – has been sans emphasis on belief. In fact, belief was to be eschewed. For, it kills the seed of seeking. Only when one seeks can one experience the Divine bliss.
Opening up of the spiritual world to everyone is the greatest contribution of Hinduism. Every generation has been Gurus take this gift to everyone in the world. Freely and openly. Without any reservations. And, above all without any need for any “conversions”!