Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coping up with the shaken-up faith

Ram had written about one side of the Nityananda event.  I want to focus on another aspect of it - coping with your faith shaken up.  To start with spirituality is not about "them" but is about "you".

The followers of Nityananda must be really troubled by the recent events.  It doesn't matter whether the event was real or doctored.  The very information is enough to trouble them.   When Dayanda Saraswathi's belief was shaken up, it triggered the creation of Arya Samaj.  Another extreme event was a family suicide in Trichy when they realized a sick member of their family can't be cured by their belief.  There are more common cases like some of my agnostic friends who have faith in the legal system.  They do get shaken up when they learn that the system is not all that clean.  They contemplate relocating to another place where the system isn't so badly corrupted.

At times of crisis, it is hard to keep the faith because of the flow of information from all directions, created by all kinds of people about the icon one believes in.  The icon need not be a person, it could be a deity, a system or even a symbol.  The world has seen enough and more desecration of symbols and the violence that follows.  What is the best way to cope with the agitating mind?

The common reactions are to deny the event if you are weak, punish the offenders if you are strong or shift the faith if you are practical.  If you aren't lucky, the new faith may face the same situation soon.  But you got to have faith - that's how you identify yourself - as a follower of a religion, political party, legal or belief system.  As long as the identity exists, faith will exist.  So, not having faith (religious, spiritual or otherwise) is out of question.

To get over the crisis, just look at how you feel,  you might feel restless, agitated.  Be with that experience.  Resist any thought that demands an action like argument, violence, writing letters to the editor, blogging etc.  To experience the feeling would be very uncomfortable, but if really experienced, disappears in minutes. The next moment, the troubling piece of information doesn't affect you.  That way you get to keep your faith and also not get affected by its troubles.


kingsindian said...

We Indians have a tendency to deify people, anoint someone as being the great-person-who-can-do-no-wrong and then blindly and unquestioningly follow them. This is true with various Godmen, politicians (Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi), and even athletes (Tendulkar). There is a succession of such "demi-gods" that have taken advantage of their gullible flock, or simply turned out to be human.

So I question this whole idea about having blind faith in people. (The fact that this guy was getting some and that it should be a private matter as long as he wasn't preaching abstinence is besides the point.) Faith in religion, God and the greater good is one thing. It is nourishment for the human soul. Expecting other fellow-mortals to be Gods is setting oneself up for eventual disappointment. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our founding fathers had this sense and setup the government with a series of checks and balances so that no one individual or branch of government would ever have complete free reign. Today, we as a society keep looking for individuals to give our complete trust to.

Sridhar said...

The reason why the society keep looking for individuals to give our complete trust is - the institutions are destroyed already. The political, legal and administrative systems have failed the people. Common man no more believes that right will prevail because the system doesn't give that confidence.

Which is why, I say - faith will face crisis. It doesn't matter whether it is a faith on an individual or a system. Learn to cope with it.

kingsindian said...

Maintaining our institutions is a collective responsibility. We cannot leave it to any one individual. And neither can any one individual be the answer to broken institutions.

Indians are experts at coping, and at keeping the faith. We need to get better at expecting and demanding higher standards from our government representatives and our institutions.

Sridhar said...

Hmm - we are moving away from my original post. Agreed that the responsibility on institutions is a collective one. The collection must be made of people with integrity - I'm interested in the individuals than more abstract systems, religions and Gods.