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Do you believe in God ?

I am guessing that in other countries you might be spared of answering this question since it would fall in the space marked “private” and thus not be asked at all. In India, not so. Indians pretty much ask each other anything. Nothing is considered off limits.

I usually find it very difficult to answer this question whenever anybody poses it. My true answer goes beyond a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. I can’t explain to people, to their satisfaction, what I mean when I say that I’m spiritually inclined but not religious.

In my experience, many people do not (cannot?) distinguish between spiritualism and religion. To them if you are religious, which is proved if you follow prescribed rituals in the religion, you are automatically spiritual. When you say you are spiritually inclined they will ask you which spiritual leader you follow and which religion you practice. It is very difficult to explain to them that I do not associate being spiritual with following rituals or any particular religion. Yes, religion has had a direct and an indirect (more indirect than direct) presence in my life. To that extent, yes, I follow a religion (since I was born into it) but practice no rituals at all.

Actually there are many logical, rational things said in the spiritual texts from my religion that would help us become better human beings, should we practice them. However I observe that usually people engage in rituals and truly believe that that is the path to enlightenment or salvation or the like. Some are such fanatics that if you don’t follow rituals, to them you are automatically a bad human being.

I used to know an elderly lady who would, each morning, recite religious texts. She used to say that reciting the texts brought one closer to God, cleansed one’s heart and mind. However I never once saw her recite these texts with total concentration. During recitation, her attention would wander to almost everything happening in and around her house and her mind would be engaged in generating responses to each of those tiny occurrences and observations. In fact I know many such people, young and old, who practice rituals mechanically while their mind is elsewhere. Yet many among them feel superior since they practice those rituals and most feel that they are truly fulfilling their duty and creating a balance of ‘good’ to carry them to their next lives or even attain salvation.

Assuming that reciting those texts or practicing those rituals does actually help one attain salvation, how would it be effective unless you concentrated on it ? What’s the point of doing something if you don’t apply your mind to it ?

Also, the concept of a ‘Boss’ like God bothers me…the one who will reward / punish you if you please him / her by doing or not doing certain things. I think this is purely Man’s creation.

I do genuinely believe that there are many things in this Universe that are beyond my control and understanding. If there is something / somebody that actually has complete understanding and control over this Universe we inhabit, I think I could term it / him / her as God since that is a term that will be universally understood.

Me ?  I’m simply happy to turn my focus inward to learn more about myself and to learn to make choices that sustain life. I’m not even sure this is what people know as spiritual, but this is what I feel like doing instinctively and this is what I’m doing.

So, no, I don’t know if I believe in God as you know him / her or not. And yes, I like to believe that I am spiritually inclined.

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