God is a concept and religion is a practice

A few months back I was in Krabi for New Year celebrations and on a stroll around Phra Nang Beach one day; I saw something quite interesting.

The Phra Nang beach was famous as a worship place where fishermen and local people came to pray for their safe return to dry land and a successful fishing trip.

The temple and the cave that surrounded the worship area was a display of some of the most unusual offerings I had ever seen. Apart from other things the one thing that caught my immediate attention and interest were the dozens of ‘lingams’ carefully placed at the shrine.  I inquired about those from the local people and what I could gather from them was a deep cultural belief that was followed over and over for thousands of years.

The Locals have long believed that a powerful spirit resides in the cave and placing the lingams there would bring luck and fertility.

Chitralok

I always wonder what makes us to believe something. Are we really following any religion or are we just following our parents and society and their beliefs? Do we really ask ourselves why we are following religious faiths without arguing them? Beliefs and faiths which we are following are they really our faith, our beliefs? I guess NO.

While I took pictures of the shrine and the unusual offerings to the spirits; A million questions sprawled in my mind.

The religious-faiths are based on thousands of years old phenomena or stories, and we are asked to put our whole faith on them without question or doubt.

Though I do believe in the power of faith and positive thinking – the fact that we succumb and surrender to certain practices, faiths and religious acts – without even taking a moment to introspect if these are really what make sense to us and will doing them really bring that blessing to us that we seek for? I am no atheist – I believe in the Alma Mater and his beautiful creations but really do we have to be that numb to the insensitivities sometimes the religion in its age old tradition brings to us?

 

This proposal certainly undermines our human intelligence. I can’t understand why God will require such an edict and/or a civil law to protect His eternal messages.Yes, I found that in some of the country the religious beliefs are now civil law and you have to follow them.

I am not saying we should not respect religious beliefs, I think we should respect the sentiments and values of any religion because they are an important part of people’s culture and lifestyle.

If you respect the culture and lifestyle of a particular group of individuals you are indirectly respecting their religion. Doubts and reasoning are fine as long as it’s reasonable and not used with the intent to hurt.

Chitralok

As I said I totally agree that all the beliefs and faith are not fake, there are based on the experience of our older generations. Rather what I have perceived and experienced is that we do need to take a break and think from a rational perspective of what the faiths and beliefs that we follow actually mean. All we need to ask is if the act of doing them in a particular way or custom would actually make sense in the world we live and relevant in the context of the current situations.

So, what do I conclude with?

“After many a travelling experiences, meeting different people with different faiths and beliefs my mind tells me that –“The actual meaning of a religion is to provide knowledge and guidance to find our rights and privileges, and purposes of our lives.

God has given us superior intellects; we should use them to find our purposes. And we should seek God through our intelligence, not through our ignorance, superstitions, and blind-faith.

After all, God is a concept and religion is a practice.

Neeraj Khandelwal

A self-taught photographer from Jaipur (India) and currently living in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Neeraj practices the trade as a hobby. He claims everything he knows about photography is from magazines, friends an online articles. A curiosity whenever he saw a telling photograph, thinking what could have been the story behind it, how beautifully it portrays the emotions, or how good is the frame composition… from basic intrigue, it grew to be an obsession. Anytime he sees something amazing, the first thoughts are: “Okay, how would this look in a frame?” What Neeraj also loves is go out and explore new places. But of course, capturing those new things remains a part and parcel of it.

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