THE ROLE OF RELIGION (POST 1) – WONDER AND AWE
Like lotus leaves on water, most of us have an ‘untouched’ relationship with the societies we live in. It is our immediate concerns that define our day to day living, and it is in attending to these concerns that we interact with the society. Still, there are three very strong societal influences that impinge on us, defining the way we think, the way we act and the way we live. And we allow ourselves, albeit involuntarily, to be moulded by these three strong influences, namely: Religion, Politics and Law.
To me, Religion is not restricted to worship and prayer; Politics is not merely governance and administration; and Law is not confined to policies and the justice systems states have in place. To me, Religion is a way of life, Politics is a reflection of a time period and Law regulates what we pass on to posterity.
Over the next several posts, I would like to examine the way humankind has been defined and shaped by these influences. It’s an imaginary journey I take, propelled by wonder and curiosity, quite unconstrained by any existing body of knowledge as such. The purpose is to see if, instead of being passive recipients of the effect of these three strong influences we can use them to re-define ourselves and the world we live in so that when we leave, the world is a somewhat better than when we came in.
RELIGION does not only affect the believer. Value systems inculcated by dominant philosophies, cults, groups and so on, which, I think is what we call religion, affects societies, nations and the world. The ramifications of a strong religion transcend time and can be felt for aeons. Over millennia, Religion has moulded the way people think, feel, react, emote, eat, grow, dress, interact, live.
How did the concept of religion come into being? Did it start with an idea of a super being? A God? Did it grow with the notion of there being a right and a wrong?
Seeds were scattered, plants grew, as if by magic. Animals mated and young ones were born in their likeness, miraculously. Sunrise, sunset, day in, day out. Year after year a cycle of seasons so predictable.
And yet, so unpredictable is the weather, so unpredictable is death, and so final. Nameless dangers lurk in the dark, in the water, in the forest…….
Awe for that unknown power that made all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small; fear for the one who created and destroyed at will, as it were.
Let’s praise the Lord, our God, who makes everything move by sheer will; let’s propitiate that being which controls all, please with offerings and pray.
But things are not behaving as expected. The rains are never ending, the heat is scorching, the seeds are not sprouting, the animals are dying and so are we. Someone has done something wrong. So, what is right and what is wrong? Who shall define it?
Thus was Religion born, perhaps, and grew …….