What would be the existence of religion after 30 years? | Dr. Sejal Shah (Ph. D)
“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to laboriously climb its way uphill.”
– The Secret Doctrine, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Truth has to manifest itself eternally through constant efforts. It is an abstract truth that has been recognized and stated. However, there is an applied truth, which we observe and experience every day. It has to establish the transparency of its journey with the constantly changing times. The first question before us is where do we want to see the society in general and Jain society in particular in the next 30 years? In general, today’s youth is disconnected from their religion – the Gen Z population try to have as little as possible to do with their religion unless their elders urge them to. They don’t have a sense of pride and affection for their religion. Religion is not only about performing religious activities such as worshipping gods, visiting temples, etc., or following an austere life without ever indulging yourself – it’s about helping one solve his/her difficulties, problems, predicaments, and thus live a better life overall.
What would “religion” be 30 years from now? Will it even exist? If yes, then in what shape and form? How would people perceive religion at the time?
This question is not only for the Jain community. It’s for everyone. Nevertheless, for now, to encompass the whole thing together in one seam, we have to think of the answer that after 30 years, where do we want to see the religion that we have identified and introduced to the society? Gandhiji was very perceptive about human beings’ limitations on religious understanding: “All religions are God-given, but they seem imperfect because they are promulgated and propagated by human beings. A human preacher expresses religion in his language, and human devotees interpret it in their manner. Religion has a root, same as a tree, but its leaves are innumerable.”
Religion has just turned out to become just one aspect of one’s life today. How conscious are we about this aspect is a moot question. There are elements of good and evil dormant within every one of us. The more good or divine gets manifested in us, the more meaningful our lives become. All the world’s major religions have guided millions of human beings towards this dormant good and the path of truth.
There is no other aspect of human existence than religion that can bring more peace and meaningfulness in our lives. Acquiring inner peace and progress is the only way out! Can there be any inward journey without self-knowledge? It is self-knowledge that makes us noble, and religion is the most effective tool for attaining self-knowledge. The diversity of the world would boggle anyone. An obvious question arises in our minds: there must be some mysterious power mechanism that governs the fast-flowing rivers, the constant roaring sea, the bright sunrise, the blossoming flowers, and the life-giving wind. If we do not accept it with faith, we do not have any other choice but to accept the power of nature.
This omnipotent power is propagated by accepting many religious symbols through religion and its medium. Every religious group has a limited range of such symbols. A group of religions discredit another group as they could not correlate with the range of religious symbols. Religion is a source of spiritual salvation. The Mahabharata defines religion as:
“धारणात धर्म इत्याहु धर्मो धारयति प्रजा:” (An element, a rule or a principle or law, which assumes, sustains or supports or protects an individual, a society and a country).
According to Mahatma Gandhi, religion means a living and radiant faith in God. For him the ultimate truth is God. Dr Radhakrishna calls religion a virtuous rule. Mahavira has referred to religion as a purifying practise of karma.
Today, we are living in a world of robots and utmost comfort in our day to day life. However, we have come closer to all the connecting gadgets but away from human beings. The seeds of mutual distrust and jealousy are sown in such a way that we live only by wearing a mask on our face, and we are afraid of removing that mask. We form a close cluster of people of our religion and stereotype the people that belong to other regions. All these lead to the extreme: ‘if you are not with us, you are against!’ When narrowness enters religion, ‘self-centeredness’ emerges, and such blind ‘self-centeredness’ harms the sense of equality of religion.
True religion teaches us to be free. The foundation of such a religion is based on generosity and empathy. The humanity that teaches liberation, instinct and amicable dealings will also cultivate value for all living beings. The scientific bent of mind is the guiding spirit of true religion. No one ever has, nor can anyone have the right to persecute others for their survival. If we can pass on these ideas to Gen-Z, the world will become a harmonious place to live. True religion is a noble idea, so let us not belittle the noble idea because of our limited understanding. Let us give the mantra of the spiritual practice of truth to our posterity, and if we could do it, we need not worry whether it will exist after 30 years or not!
Dr. Sejal Shah (Ph. D)