Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Visit To The Temple

A visit to the temple. A routine(If not regular) cycle for the average Indian. Unless you're an aethist. To me, going there is just a waste of time - a bad waste of time. There are so many other, better ways of wasing time than going to a temple to offer money to someone(thing?) that you know does not really need it - especially when it can have American dollars instead! None-the-less, I was firmly(but not forcefully) dragged along to the temple with my parents because "It would do me good.". Yuk. Oh, the time I could have spent playing squash, or surfing the internet... sigh. I never really an affinity for temples, or other places of worship. Idols of our perception and imagination don't exactly charge me up.
This particular visit, however, was a total shocker. When I did go in there,I did feel more calm and composed, and more in control of myself than usual. I jokingly even thought to 'God' - "Hey there - presuming you exist - i hope you know that the stuff bout Heaven and God being just a menifstation of the devil[I'll post that one shortly, along with a mathematical existance of god] an all. You being the 'All Forgiving One' ought to knnow anyways... One more thing, please take care of Dadaji(I know he's up there. No way he coulda reached Hell) and tell him that I miss him terribly. I love him. Thanks mate!" The strange part here is that I actually meant what I said, as if I was really saying it to someone(thing??) and that hopefully he/she/it would ttake notice. It's a strange feeling, especially for someone like me, being very firmly aethist an all. Anyone with a similar experience...? Speak up.


Lola said...

I enjoy temples. I haven't been to one in a long time, mostly because we don't have many here. And while I am not atheist, I do believe in a conventional figure like god. I just find temples a quiet place to enjoy beauty and to reflect on things.

Aveek said...

Hey Lola! Where are you from? Yes, temples are calming places. God, though, I don't believe has much say in anything here. He just seems to be a Vegabond(If you know what I mean), and why exactly must we go to a temple to reflect? Why can't we just take a break, chill, detach from ourselve, and think? Admitted its hard in this increasingly time-consuming schedule the human race has placed itself in, but why not?

Anonymous said...

atheism is a pretty arrogant concept. most human beings desire leadership, which is why psychologically they desire a figure they can ask guidance from. the whole existence of god is not because god is there, it is because people want a leader- to ask and blame.
that is why universally god exists in some manifestation in each and every civilisation.
religion as a concept is terrible, (my god is better than your god) but the concept of god itself is a great thing (theism) theism is good as it helps you calm down and has been proven to help people in times of trouble and pain (i can vouch for that) as well as to keep people from commiting any crime (god-fearing) although i cant vouch for that one - im currently sitting in webworld cheating the shit out of them by not paying money yet using their services...

i for one am theistic, yet not atheistic. in short, i believe in god, yet not as any particular figure such as allah, jesus, ganesha etc.


Aveek said...

hey arjun!
nice to hear from ya after so long!
For most aethists, the move is because the leader has failed one too many times for the person to have any belief in him left. About keeping people from commiting crimes - whether in fear of god or not - is so idiotic. Classic example: Osama Bin Laden. "In the name of Allah... yak yak yak... Death to Americans!" No offense to any muslim who reads this. there are twisted people in every culture. Bal Thakre is another from Hinduism who commits crimes in "The Name of God".
It is only the weak who desire leadership, due to a complete lack of self confidence and inability to take responsibility for actions of others or themselves. You, of all people should know this(Reference: Dogberts cult following). :-D. Aethism is for someone - anyone- who is willing to take life by the neck and face whatever comes his/her/its way(Fearlessly or not). Aethism is a bold new, and more stable approach to the world than religion ever was.
Though I must admit, as most of the world is weak-willed, religion serves a good purpose - to keep most of this "God-Fearing" world sane. One day, just wait and watch, Aethism will not be a separate way of thought, it will be the norm. Till then, "May God help us"!! ;-D

Meghna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meghna said...

Hey Aveek...
You talk of atheism as a path taken by someone willing to take responsibilty. I beg to differ with you on that! Atheism is for someone who is arrogant enough to believe that there is nothing -no situation- that is beyond mortal hands. Believing in a God (not necessarily of a particular religion) doesn't make one 'weak-willed'; it makes one humble.

Also, not everyone is part of a secure society, with self-confidence coming from a sheltered household and intelligence. Most people need to know that there is a figure bigger than we all are, that will not one day go away (as other admirable figures will always do). One needs to believe in God. Not that one stops working because of this belief - belief in a God is one thing, and dependance on him is another.

As for the likes of Bin Laden and Bal Thakre...that is a misuse of religion...not religion itself. Believing in a God and being a religious fanatic (and even that is not about religion but about political opportunism) are two different things.

And by the way, is this whole thing about God? Or religion? What has believing in God got to do with religion?!

Aveek said...

What, is "Arrogant" the in thing to say...? Or will Birds Of A Feather (Just) Flock Together? The entire concept of "God"(As you so clearly put it) exists because humans need someone to look up to. Some one to blame. Some one to ask guidance from. Has this God ever guided us really? Or is it just a great hoax(Like the church for so many years - priests commanding the rest using the "Will Of God" as an excuse...?) to get things done?
Let me state something - THERE IS NO SITUATION BEYOND MORTAL HANDS. Anything and everything can be within control - we just need to learn how to tame it. It will come with time - a proven road. It is not arrogant - just an ambition that will one day be fulfilled.

Amiah(Again, why Amiah...?), You have stated yourself that there is only a temporary need for a God. We are not of the same confidence and intellegence levels. Nor do we all come from the same background. All our up-bringing is different. To bridge this gap, this chasm of security, we have a God.
On the lines of what must seem to you this Enigma, we are all working to stabilise and (In certain cases) neutralise there situations. We are progressing towards a stabe global economy, extirmination of poverty, and eradication of racial discrimination. In short, we are moving to a simple, smart, integrated world where everyone is on the same playing field. Once everyone is equal, we all will be able to believe in our own ability, and not leave the rest to someone else. It is then that we can grip our lives in our hands and take control of it.

God has been created by us as a temporary milestone, a target that we can set our sights on until we are strong enough to get on by ourselves. It is a charecter, much like the Sandman, or Santa Claus(Though he does have some historical credibility), or the Easter Bunny, created to motivate the child to strive to be just, confident, happy, until such a time as these attributes have been instilled in us, and there is no more need for 'external' motivation. God, like these charecters, will fade away as the Human Race matures and understands the reasons for so amny phenomena till then attributed the the mysterious ways of 'God'.

Meghna said...

Nope, 'arrogant' is not the 'in' thing to say – and I wouldn’t exactly call Arjun and myself ‘birds of a feather’ – it just happens to be the only word to describe your logic.
Let me ask you a question. Which part of your 'fulfilled ambition' helped you to control which family you were born into? What about the kind of people you were around in school and in college? How would you have controlled any disaster – be it an earthquake, flood or drought – by confidence in yourself? There are MILLIONS of situations beyond our hands, and not all of them only affect you. We cannot exist in a world where we take decisions, and have those decisions affect us alone. Just like there are people who can’t help being affected my your actions, you cant help being affected by theirs.

Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. In saying that we are on different levels of security, confidence and intelligence, I did not mean that only those who lack in them need a God. We speak with a view to life that is privileged. We cannot possibly say that we have felt deprived at any point. When we feel the lack of something, we need a God to guide us. As far as the hoax of the church for so many years is concerned…you are again mixing up religion and God! The problems we face today are due to the misuse of religion! Not because of anyone’s belief in God. I never once said religion was necessary. I said belief in God was.

As you say, God is a figure that will become unnecessary when everyone will be on the same level. But at which point will you say that the world has reached that point?! As we progress as an economy – eradicate poverty and what have you – our definition of what is perfect, our goal of equality also moves further and further away. The way you make it sound, the world is becoming this mechanised, uni-cultural place. If you can honestly tell me that the a day will come when every human being will be equal in all respects – intellectually, financially, and in terms of confidence, security, happiness and culture and on THAT day we will stop needing God, then I agree with you. Because that day will never come – not only because it may be only theoretically possible, but also because that theory will presuppose a single definition of perfection and equality – and until it does, the need of God will remain in our hearts, since faith will never die.

Anonymous said...

from what ive read of ur article u seem to be in two minds..u say that ur a firm atethiest but u meant what u said wen u talked to god. and then u say u dont believe in religion...theyre two completly diffrent things! god is essentially a supernatural being that we attribute all existence to.s/he or it(who knows!)is something we confide in wen we need some solice,assurance or guidance..its true that god doesnt "talk to us" and advise physically but u can say god does this spritually. god is present in everyone's inner selves and when u talk to god (ive noticed this from expierence)u experience a certain gut feeling,an intictiveness telling u what to do or reassuring u!theres no proof god exists,but i agree with arjun when he says gods exist because ppl want a leader to look up to,ask and blame!
religion on the other hand is somethin that advises us how to live our lives...take christianity. the whole concept of the bible is to show us what a model human jesus was and that we should strive to be like him. i have nothin against religion but its the misuse of it that gets me annoyed.for example,i went 2 tirupathi the last time i was in india thinkin it would be a place of serenity,peace and order and what i found was something that competly shocked was dirty and un organised to name but a few!! i mean i understand if the temple was poor but this is far from it.its the most famous temple in world and its loaded...the pandits were wearing solid gold watches and huge diamond earrings and these are supposed to be ppl who adopt a life of poverty?????
so pretty much i believe in god...the supernatural..not our perception of god(vishnu,shiva,jesus,allah)and am not against religion but am completly against the misuse in anyway of religion

Aveek said...

hey ananya!
yes, the entire story about thirupathi is very sad. It is complete and total misuse of religion.
The whole point of writing the article was because it was so strange, as i am very firmly aethist, but none-the-less this went and happened...
Again, I stand beside my view that God is a temporary checkpoint(relatively temporary... time as a whole is far to expansive to be understood - or even comprehended by us...) and that one day, as man finally begines to settle on another planet(I believe that this phenomena will happen over the next 200 or so years) we will have united as a race througout the entire planet, with one helping another(No matter what Isaac Aasimov said about the "Galactic Empire's Fall" in his AMAZING 'Foundation Saga') so that we will depend on other wholely unprovable entity all together. I repeat, I am not stating that this will happen over night, indeed habit is one of the hardest things to change, and it will only happen when something that affects the entire planet occours. It will take tremendous amounts of time (to a human at least), but it WILL HAPPEN. One day...

Anonymous said...

so ur pretty much saying that god is temporary and that once every one is on a same level there will be no need for god. hate to burst ur bubble but do u really think that in a coupl of 100 yrs every country will be considered equal!!!!!!! that will never happen!! just becasuse economies like ours and china's etc are booming and are fast approaching the same development of other counties like britain doesnt mean that the likes of britain,australia and america etc are goin to stop and wait for us to catch up to them!!the worlds economies are in constant competition! they all want to be better in every which way than other economies! nd as for living on other planets....its possible but take it one step at a time!!! we're still only starting to explore mars!!!!!

Anonymous said...

so in short,
all the worlds economies being considered equal and recieving the same repsect is highly unlikely therefore peoples need for god is still present and will prevail!
and if the situation arises where by every 1 is deemed equal then i still feel god will exist as people will still look to him for advice and guidance. god will still be a figure whom we speak to,to get assurance and solice!

Aveek said...

When I said time, I most certainly didn't mean anything as triflingly small as a 100 years... but it will happen. People turn to god for advice as they know no better. Once science(or logic, though that does point the way of science) takes over, people will look to someone in control, or some new system will be formed to accomodate the greater amount of knowledge that man will have obtained by then
Take ffor example, the weather. Until we knew how the weather worked, we prayed. but now we have the weather comitee - or whatever you wish to call them... the trend is towards understanding and controling everything we experience.

Hey, does any one read Sci-Fi? Even slightly?

Anonymous said...

i still dont agree wit u ........yes maybe in a few 100 thousand yr we will live on other planets but peopl are still goin to be insecure in som way....therefore still need god but maybe our perception of god will change according to the advances in technology!
and as for sci fi....not really;though i do watch certain programs of intrest on discovery!

Meghna said...

To a certain extent...I do agree with you Ananya...but I don't think that the issue here is whether or not economies are in competition. The issue here is that along with standards, values of different countries will never be the same. In fact, I think that equality in that sense is neither possible, nor desirable. Frankly, with everyone the same, the world would be BORING!

I guess this whole round about debate has lead to this: You think that a day will come when all human beings will be exactly the same - in ALL respects mind you - and I don’t. Full stop. That's all there is to it. So I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree on that.

I have a question though: Where are we looking to prove or disprove the need of God exactly? You seem to be looking outside. At world economies and what not - which is always going to change - even though how we are ever going to reach the level of complete equality is far beyond my comprehension.
Anyway, how about looking at it from the inside? Look at human psyche and the need for a Super Being. Logicalities put aside, we will always psychologically need a God. And that psychology is not weak-willed. (I know that is what you are going to say…)
God becomes a checkpoint for the human race. If you would stop mixing up sci-fi and philosophy, you might get it. In our constantly changing world, nothing remains central besides God. And that extent of change is overwhelming. That’s where our need for god comes in.

I'm not even going to try commenting on us living on another planet in the next 200 years. And even if we long as we are identifiably the species we are today human psyche will not change. Also, you and our entire generation will definitely be dead! What's the point of living in an era that you will never be a part of?!
As for the weather, yes we have begun to understand and predict it, but the ultimate 'why' will never be answered will it? We will never know why things are the way they are. There is a comfort in explanation – which we provide for ourselves through God.

Aveek said...

well, we might have to agree to disagree... and each country has its own idea of equality. but as we advance, we will eventually erase the borders of 'My Country" and 'Your Country'.
Example(I like doing this!!): Red indians who guarded their land, now share it with one another because it will benifit them all. Sure, it took time to realise that united they stand, divided they fall(Pardon the cliche...), but iot happened, didn't it..?
We always need a super being, but that doesn't mean he/she/it(? maybe we'll evolve...) cannot be human. We practically take Jesus as Human, Americans take Donald Trump as God(Hehe... sorry, I couldn't help it), and so many other uh, breaches of limits.A mortal can also be a super being. If you ask neanderthal man what e thinks of man today with all hispower(material as it may be), I'm quite sure he'l be stunned. Just like that, there are special cases of exemplary humans, like Yuri Gellar. Anyone can be a super being at the rate the human race is currently(not?) advancing...
Our perception of god, as you say, might - nay, will - change with time. As i have stated, as more and more phenomena are solved. Humanity will have reason for everything(yes, life may become boring, but still, there's always the maverick hidden somewhere as the easter egg to us..), he will need god less and less. i say God loosely...
about living in a generation that will be dead long before anything significant like this happens... Why not. I feel this life is boring, so I'm gonna look at it from another point of view.
Orbit my parallel universe.

Anonymous said...

urm...mia was the whole "u think all humans will be considered equal in every way and i dont" aimed at me or aveek!cos i wud never believe that all humans are considered equal in all rights!i agree wit u when u say that if all countries held the same values and standards this place would be boring....i mean cum on aveek! living in a world where everyone had the same traditions,values,and culture would be unreal.if that did happen(which it wont!)people still wont truly be considered equal..i dont think thats possible! and even if they were it wouldnt really affect their belief in god!human physchi looks for a figure to lead us in any situation..if all people are considered equal that doesnt affect our human physchi!..we still will feel the need for a "god"...i stand by my thoughts in that maybe our perception of god will change but our belief in an entity will remain!
as for people worshipping a mortal......thats been done!is case u havent heard!.its the essence of christianity!..jesus was mortal!de whole concept of it was derived from a him!(trust me, i know. sittin in a religion class for nearly three years listening to the teacher drone on about it kinda makes it stick in ur head!!!!...even when ur exempted from the subject lol!!)
i cant believe this debate is still goin on and i only joined it a few days ago!im runninh out of thngs to say!and plus im beginning to get confused!

Aveek said...

Hehe.. yes, we're ll exhausting our thoughts on the subject, aren't we? I personally have just managed to squeeze out my last bit of opinion on this one in the last comment. But none-the-less, to keep my point of view right up there with you two, I will enforce it furthur.
Religion, in today's times, unites entire nations. Anywhere you go in the country, you will find mosques, temples, gurdwaras, agairies(Familiar with this one meghna?). Currently, this is the 'Global' perception of religion. It will change with time, and will eventually unite the planet. However, it will not be religion as we see it today. It will not even be worship. It will become something like education, where a place we'll go to to learn, or something around that idea. I know ur wondering where this enigma is gonna take you(and so do I, hehe) aren't you?
As everything is understood, we will depend on our knowledge more than ever, finally eliminating the need for an entity to ask for support or guidance. Methods and proscesses will have evolved in psychology, therapy, and in other sciences, rendering nature quite under control.Not only will we have someone who is quite human and material to solve any problems that maay arise, but we willl a REAL solution to things, and not some clouded wisp of 'enlightenment'. These 'Temples' will essentially become our life support. And inside them will be humans(or any other race that decides to co-exist with us instead of trying to wipe us out and use us as food for furthur thought[OK, too much fiction and Arthur C. Clarke]), humans who have no aura's surrounding them, have no special powers(exept, maybe, to think clearly and professionally, as they are trained), humans that are just like everyone else. They will teach equality, science, logic, and anything else that (wo)man needs to survive and live with in that time and place. The entire human psyche, just like humans themselves, will evolve. History(and Charles Darwin) have proved this. I presently cannot state any examples(as I'm too exhausted writing this to search for any, or I'm just plain lazy. I would like you to believe the former.).

Meghna said...

Yes, you're right. We totally are exhausting our opinions on this one!
So I will say this one for the last Aveek in particular:
Places of worship - mosques, temples, gurdwaras, agiaries (boy am I familiar with this one!) - becoming globally the same is NOT going to change people's need for a God! The human psycology is not going to change no matter how 'equal' and 'united' the world is. Economic (so called) equality is not going to make every one of the 6 billion people on the Earth confident (arrogant) enough to think that they can control EVERYthing.

God is an idea...not an actual being. According to Plato, everything concrete is an imitation and an apporximation of a Perfect Ideal; perfection that that the object is trying ot imitate. As soon as something materialises, it loses a bit of that idea of perfection. That's why the human race can never fully worship a human being. Giving a human that kind of responsibility and importance is unnatural - simply because being human implies having human imperfections.

As for Charles Darwin, the guy undoubtedly was a genius. In the field of science. I am sure that it is no one's case that the guy was a philosopher. History has not in the least bit proved that the human psyche will change. Right from the ancient the present day humans...we have always needed a God. Yes, the kind of God has changed - from a plathora of Greek Gods, to the Trinity (Creator, Preserver and Destroyer), to the formless being - the idea of God has become more and more abstract. But there has always been one. Hasn’t there?

What you seem to be against, Aveek, is racism (you counrty - my country and all that being solved by unity) and the misuse of religion (wiping us out...hoax of the the church) – yes, I am probably picking on words...but that's the way it looks to me. The problem are linking religion's problems with God...or anyone's belief in God.

In any case, I respect the stand you are taking, and I admire that you - through all this - still choose to stick to what you believe in.
Like I said, we are just going to have to agree to disagree...

Anonymous said...

i agree wit meghna!and the whole mixing religion with god issue.....IVE BEEN SAYING THAT ALL ALONG !!!!! i musnt have been gettin my message across!lol!(i get that alot! lol) i have nothing else to say....all my ideas are befuddled and extinguished right now!!!will one of u cum up wit a less complex topic to discuss(namely one of u cos i dont have a blogger account)im completely saturated by this one and am in the mood for a more light hearted one!...i enjoyed it immensly...while it lasted !lol

Roopa said...

"God" incites so much passion... and for lack of existence is pretty ironic. Love the comments to the blog. No wonder I like criticism!! Me thinks, "God" is not a necessity for survival, but increases the quality of life… from the point of view of my agnostic life, with little or no quality :) …in comparison… When God = Religion and not spirituality, when Religion = Institutionalization = Corruption… this is where the world goes outta wack. Names cause divisions and divisions, strife!! Well so much for my opinion!!

Anonymous said...

>Hey, does any one read Sci-Fi? Even slightly?

i do

and i do agree with you aveek, to a certain extent, and meghna too. i couldnt get to ananyas comments, as the whole debate is too long for me to be arsed. but hang in there aveek! youre arguing a good point.


Aveek said...

Arjun, how long has it been since we finished this...?? anyways, what the heck... I READ SCI-FI you DOLT.
I love sci-fi...
as for the debate, i think it'll take me quite some time to read the whole thing (again) so i'm just gonna drop it like a hot potato and make tracks elsewhere...

spliff: rather ironic indeed...! hehe... ten brownie points for your opinion...!!

Anonymous said...

I am an atheist! i don't beleive in God, i just never have, going to church is a waste of time. While i don't judge others for having faith i can't say i understand, but i do try to!!!

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Anonymous said...

Hey Aveek.I went thru a similar phase in the beginning of my atheistic life when it was a complete change from my previous, almost fanatically religious life. The temple YOU went to was probably a very calming place. Actually,a lot of temples ARE calming. But thats only because of the atmosphere there, and that it is probably a huge and needed change from the environment at your place. (Without the blaring TV, Music system, et al.) But, that all temples are calming places, is a TOTALLY wrong generalization! Have u ever been to Tirupati? I had been there once, and trust me! NEVER will i ever set foot in that shithole again! And thats exactly how it is in a lot of other temples. And you dont need to go only to a TEMPLE for that calm you are talking about. Have u taken a midnight walk? It is much better! Its hard to be an atheist when most people around you are not. But we would rather have the rest of the world being theists and god FEARING while we atheists know and enjoy knowing that everything that happens in our world happens ONLY because WE make it happen!

Anonymous said...

There is no supernatural all knowing all seeing creator or God. That is my belief, i am not arrogant i accept that we are intelligent animals and have evolved as such, we were not created in any specific image, Western religion has more to do with social control than for the well being of those who follow it. There are things that mere mortals can not handle but thats mother nature for you. I dont need to think of a god to stay calm, i can simply think of all the things that have made me happy for this to happen, or the times i have caused happines in another that is much more rewarding than any time i have spent willingly or unwillingly paying lip service to a non existent being. Religion has been and continues to be the cause or at the very least the motivation for a lot of suffering, frequent murder, continious oppression and prevention of freedom of thought and expression.

This is just my own opinion, everyone can believe what they want, so long as it harms no one else then whats the problem?..... Freedom of thought is the one true freedom we have left. There are more Atheists than ppl imagine and one day we will not be considered evil, immoral, second class, un patriotic or condemmed to eternal damnation we simply will be accepted.


Ian. UK

meryl333 said...

"He is an atheist who does not believe in himself. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself."
— Swami Vivekananda

So much discussion, so little deep inquiry. What is "God" ? What is "Religion"? The Vedanta tradition has practices that teach you how to experience "That" which people call God. You don't need a temple, just character and determination. Reading Swami Vivekananda's works would be a stimulating start for self-inquiry. I recomment start with Jnana Yoga for those who are averse to devotional practices. Wake up your mind.