My couchsurfing guests of yesterday - Piet & Carla - sat down with me for a chat about India, that soon developed into a discusision about religion. I told them about my aversion to religious ceremonies, and affliction to pray only in times of trouble. But reading about religions and philosophies, yes that's a passion bordering on obsession!
I told them about the concept of Karma Yogi and how different it is from the western understanding of Yoga. And it got me thinking too. Not about Karma yoga alone, but religion as a whole.
There were so many gurus and philosophers who tried to crack the mysteries of life. Some really intelligent people, some visionaries, some false messiahs and a lot of also-rans. No, I'm not talking about the rockstar types like Osho, Satya Sai Baba and Sri Sri Sri!
Philosophers from the Greek golden era, Buddha's time in the east, Chinese intellectuals, until Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Nietzche... they all attempted to come with an answer and they all formulated theories and concepts - undoubtedly intelligent and thought-provoking, but never comprehensive enough to transcend the barriers of religion!
Very few philosophers can reach out to the majority of the world. Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad were the most successful, but their followers had to resort to force and intimidation to spread their thoughts! Buddha appeals to a vast majority of believers, but people become that much less christian or less muslim, when they adopt buddhist thoughts.
But the entire world is looking for the liberation, for the answer to this great mystery called Life! Scientists, Atheists spend years trying to search for the reasons of this accident called life. Believers rely on a cosmic miracle theory, engineered by a higher force. But everyone wants to know what is really going on with their life! And what stops them from exploring all available answers? Religion!
If you are born into a particular religion, or believe in a religion by choice, chances are that you never get a chance to hear other views. Prejudices impede your passage, incentives and threats keep you in inertia or your mum will be displeased with your conduct, at the least!
Religion, I think, is the only thing that stops humans from making a collective effort to find the truth!
One can lead a monochromatic, meaningless existence like all of us, ignoring the question. Or renounce the world like Buddha and lead a monochromatic, meaningful life to discover the 'Purpose of Life' and 'Answer to the great question' !
Either which way, your religion will tell you that you aren't compliant to its holy laws!