By Sanjoo Thangjam
Albert Einstein once said that if there were any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it will be Buddhism as it has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal god, dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and the spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and the spiritual, as a meaningful unity.
Therefore, in view of a above premises or rather in another terms, what Albert Einstein meant to say is that unlike human beings, animals have no politics, or government, religion or education, but yet maintain themselves without facing many difficulties among themselves. What would be the situation among human beings, if they were allowed to live without any government , religion or education?
And for this raison d’être, the Buddha said that Government cannot control human beings merely by imposing more and more rules. The more the Government make rules, the more the people will find loopholes to break them. If man or woman were morally trained by a religion which makes him or her understand why he or she should behave as a good citizen, no problems would arise.
Political religions have no authority to impose religious laws. Their duty is to uphold the religious principles, introduced by the enlightened religious teachers to maintain peace and order in the society.
Subsequently, Mahatma Gandhi as well said, “I do not accept India of my dream to develop one religion, to be wholly Hindu, Christian or wholly Muslim, but I want it to be wholly tolerant with its religions working side by side with one another.”
Yet again in disparity, people may cheat the Government but not religion. One who tries to cheat religion cheats oneself. Discipline cannot be brought out by coercion and compulsion or by science, but by sincerely following a religion, which stands for peace, purity and happiness. And we should not judge the merits or demerits of a religion simply by watching certain ill-conceived practices and beliefs adopted by illiterate people in the name of religion.
The original teachings of the great teachers are open to everybody and must be examined before criticism is made. Irreligion is sometimes propagated under the garment of religion. Many people think religion is to found only in a place of worship and a guru and they regard religion as suitable for old folks or women but not for the youths, educated or rich people.
To them, religion can only be found within the covers of some musty books but not among the flowers that bloom so freshly in the fields. These ideas are the results of their negligence, laziness and misunderstanding.
Therefore, the Buddha said that in his eyes, a religious man is one who is leading a noble life. Such a person can be a follower of any religion or even a person without any religious label.
Yet, if such a person could purify his mind from various defilements or evil thoughts, then he will be able to enjoy a happy, peaceful, contended life and finally attain everlasting happiness.
It is not easy for a person to prove that he is more religious than others, just because he worships and prays so many times a day or by making offerings in the name of a god or a religious teacher. The Buddhists believe that the only way to be religious is by following noble principles to develop the moral and spiritual aspects of our life without harming others.
The Buddha said that we also cannot show the progress in religion simply by erecting big buildings as places of worship, or by making huge images, or through various functions and ceremonies, or organising some colourful and attractive religious activities to bring more and more people into religion.
But we can show the progress of a religion according to the behaviour of the followers of the religions, how they convince others through their decent life and kindness, sincerity, harmless and unblamable life.
The quotations written below are the sayings of the founders of several religious teachers as well as great philosophers, thinkers, scientists, historians, psychologists, politicians and free thinkers Their names and references are given below in many places.
1.Buddhism is a living religions
Buddhism influenced Indian life in a hundred ways, as it was bound to, for it must be remembered that it was a living, dynamic , and wide-spread religion in India for over thousand years.
2. Science and religion
Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.
3. Belief in charms and magic
Some people resort to charms, magic, supernatural powers and mantras to overcome their problems. But nobody knows just how far they can succeed through such beliefs and practices.
4. Why religion was introduced
Religious belief is the invention of a wise man statesman who wished to restrain men from secret and hidden vices.
Critias, uncle of Plato
5. Everything is interdependent
6. Experience of the divine in man Religion is not a set of doctrines but it is experience. And religious teachers experience is based on realisation of the presence of the divine in man.
7. God must be in the mind
Beware of the man whose god is in the skies.
George Bernard Shaw
8. How we behave in front of God
Before God we are equally wise - equally foolish.
9. Why religion influences hatred
We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
10. Religion is to conquer
Religion is the conquest of ear; the antidote of failure and death.
11. Moral conduct and religion
Religion is central part of our education that determines our moral conduct.
12. Moral principle are in religion
Religion is the recognition of our moral principles as laws that must not be transgressed.
13. Concept of god is important
If the concept of god did not exist, somehow or other, man would have created one because it is very important for psyche. A divine power is necessary to allay our innate fear.
And last but not the least, I, as a lay Buddhist respect and honour the founders and teachers of other religions. All the religious teachers deserve respects and honour, for they have also done service to mankind. If I like, I can also keep pictures or symbols of these religious teachers in my home. Because Buddhism advises us to honour those who are worthy of honour.
# The writer is a lay Buddhist and Human Rights Activist for People Who Use Drugs (PUDs)