Self Evolution

My father visits Gurudwara everyday and my mother spends an hour reading Sukhmani sahib since 40 years. This should say something right away about my religious upbringing. Transitioning from a believer who prayed in silence everyday to a skeptic/atheist, was not just a challenge for me but for my family as well.

So is it my pride and vanity that made me question the omnipresent or I ceased to believe in God after thinking deep on the matter? I remember reading this story a couple of years back which took place in my head’s “Need to rethink” database.

“Somewhere in the world, a little girl has been abducted. There has been no phone call for any sort of ransom. In the matter of days she will be tortured, raped and probably killed by the delinquent, that is kind of confidence we can draw when something so barbaric happens, on the other side, the parents of the same girl are clinging on to a hope that some omnipresent god will save her and she will return without a scratch?” Trying to put myself in the shoes of a parent, I would be frightened significantly especially when I don’t have anything/anyone to pray to. The emptiness and the wait for time to unfold the unknown might also make me unstable.

Then, why choose this route which will make the circumstances even harsher? I asked that question numerous times during the years when I realized I am turning from a staunch believer to an atheist. Being a little mystical would have made the circumstances slightly easier but I wanted to overpower this and be realistic instead. Honestly, I am not always successful.

Reaffirming that I don’t consider myself as a semi god or some superior person who knows and understands everything. I am a normal human being who would like to ask a simple question to the majority (approximately 5.5 billion people) who incidentally I also feel should be obliged to give some proof of the existence of God especially when the stakes are so high in our time. Taking courage, I also wish to ask, “What was God doing when good men and good women during wars, earthquakes, etc etc who had been praying for years and years asked the almighty to show them light during destruction?” Not just that, I think it is morally objectionable for the survivors to think they were saved by the God. So either he couldn’t do much in such radical circumstances or he doesn’t care much.

Either way, my faith couldn’t withstand the onslaught of reason. And even-though I love fantasy world in many ways, I still want to try and be nit-picky for the story I want to fantasize about.

Grappling to hope, faith, direction from God? Is it that bad then? I am not sure. Honestly, I tried to find proof all over internet, books, research papers and finally I couldn’t fight with my own derived conclusion.


Linkee Arora

Way to learn is to teach: Love classes 2016-17

In our school we have this practice of taking reflection from students after a major task, we all know the purpose of it, to know their understanding!!!

But when we ask the adults (us) to reflect on their learning or any take-aways (from life classes), there is always a pause. And then, after a push, some of us start hunting down all those thoughts, related to the topic, which runs everywhere except in our mind and brain.

Well, for a change, I am not feeling that way!!! Yup, you read it right. And, no, I have not lost it. I really want to pen down my thoughts. And not about anything else but my experience as a facilitator of love classes. You must be wondering…… what was Mariyam ma’am thinking and what was I thinking???

But honestly, I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for giving this opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life (hope so) for better.This year was really a great year for me. Everything was new, I took a leap in my profession (as you all know) and along with that I was GIVEN the task to facilitate the love classes. In this dive, I was not alone, I had Nayna ma’am with me. We both had a good rapport and we complimented each other so well that most of the sessions were a great learning experience for me.

During each classes, while explaining the topics like: life, pain, love, problems, suffering, marriage, parenting; I revisited all my life’s instances and I reflected whether I had followed any of these principles as I was preaching. And the truth was NO. Not all.  And that was a reality check. Because when you are learning something new, it’s very exciting and we make lot of commitments to ourselves to follow, but as time passes in our busy schedules we forget all these learnings, at least few, if not all.

And that’s where my courageous self comes into picture. I grabbed this opportunity to LIVE my commitments. I not only shared my experiences but also accepted my mistakes and along with the participants wrote the forgiveness letter which was pending for a long time. I finally got around to writing a forgiveness letter to my family members for an incident that had been hurting me for 11 years! Believe me, it was hell of a difficult task. But because I wanted to be the person who is “ Do as I do” and not as “Do as I say” I did it. And it was worth it.

Many times we feel that these classes are just waste of time and energy. But frankly speaking, it’s not. I think we feel this way because we lack courage. And its ok. But “ek try toh bunta hae, boss!!!” Because no gain without any pain!!!



Reflection – Existence of God

I am a strong believer in God. When I say that I am believer, I mean that I believe in the existence of God. That, God looks after all of us. He maintains an account of our karmas and thus, we either have good times or bad times in our life. Also, these karmas are not just from the current life but, it is the account from the past many lives and in order to have a balance in an individual’s life, the consequences/rewards are been given.

I felt that the religions are the origin of our beliefs and that they make us. But, on the contrary, religions are man-made which is thus the outcome of our beliefs. Stating this way, the beliefs are the initial point and people with common beliefs come together to form a group and thus, form a religion.

I still believe in the karma and the existence of God. Our deeds take us to different paths in the life and our beliefs are the root for our actions. But, I don’t believe in practicing rituals without understanding the benefit for the same. I think that every step we take is based on the experiences and also exposure to the better information.

Religious beliefs, as I said, are man-made beliefs and it is been modified and sub-divided according to the different mindset of people. It is also based on how people perceive various beliefs and values. So, religious beliefs does create conflict among people living in the world. These are actually the way of dividing people according to their area of interest. But, religious beliefs are the tools which are used by people in order to act according to their own interest.

To conclude, being a critical thinker, there is no harm in believing in the existence of God and in fact, it helps us not to do wrong deeds.

Lifeclass 17 and 18th Feb

I believed that there is some higher being who helps me in my everyday situations, who does miracles in my life and shows me a right path. There may be different religions but the supreme being is one. My question is who is this God? Is the God he or she? Does it have a structure? Is it like human? Why can’t I see it? How can I see and get a confirmation? Lot of unanswered never ending questions. Why do I have to follow a religion although I don’t. Why do they ask for it in some type of form? What does religion give you? I have seen my grandparents and parents who don’t believe in rituals nor religious beliefs and they were and are still happy so then what actually a religious belief give you? I can’t stop writing questions.

After the critical thinking classes and the chart paper activity, on the first day I was  little more clear that I believe in almighty or some higher being and have some relationship with spirituality but definitely no relationship with religious beliefs or rituals. My guilt in me, that I don’t believe in rituals nor possess religious beliefs is one of the reason that I don’t share a good relationship with my in laws, went away. I more at peace with myself now.

On the second day, I realized that my definition of higher being was an imaginary friend with whom I like to talk and it can me given any name, not necessarily “God”. At the same time If I called my friend a God then I need to explain people what is my definition of God. I also realized that miracles happen when I have the answer within myself and it is that moment of realization which makes me think it is a miracle.

Being a biologist, I still have a question that in case of sudden natural deaths, how does the functioning of all cells come to stop at a same time? When you meet people who are spiritual leaders why do you feel good? What is so different in them? What is aura? Is there any positive or negative vibes which spiritual leaders say?

With present world, I think people tend to believe more in rituals and religion may be due to media influence or current happening in the world or conditioning or herd mentality.



God & Religion.

I’ve always deeply believed in god and to a little extent in religion too, purely because of my upbringing and the kind of environment I was raised into. With regards to this aspect I’ve questions like why does god allow bad/evil things like rapes, murders, terror attacks, accidents etc to happen. Why do so many people have to suffer due to these things as well as due to poverty, sickness or unemployment? Another question which I have is that why do people spend so much of money on religious rituals or donations in the temple and why not put the same money in a good cause to help the deprived people and how can this shift be brought. Practically how can we make lakhs and perhaps crores of people to change the way they look at god and religious practices??

Karma is something which I kind of believe that a person’s deeds may decide what happens with him in this life or may be in the next. But I still really don’t understand and agree why there has to be a need of so many miseries in the world. Also something, that I can resonate with is, what Vardan Sir mentions in his article – The Intellectual’s folly. May be I too am not able to communicate or express what exactly are my beliefs about God. So now I’m going to think more about this and be more clear when communicating to others.

These 2 sessions helped me to introspect and question my beliefs further, but somehow I will still stick to my beliefs- (1) that yes there’s god but  (2) the whole idea of religion and practices built around the same are purely brought in or created by men. The kind of questions that were there in the form that we filled has surely helped me to think a little deeper.

Regarding the religious beliefs, I think many people are not clear with what religion means and how to practice the same. Many of the practices are being carried on since generations and many of the people don’t really question or try to see the harsh part of these practices. Many of us might not be able to talk about the same openly or even not aware of what the different religious beliefs are. And people like us who want to bring a change and a shift in the way society or even individuals look at religion, struggle to do so for a number of reasons. I think this topic should be a part of curriculum wherein students learn to look at their as well as others religious beliefs/practices, and even be allowed to question and seek answers. I personally, believe each one is free to take this decision of believing in god or not or following a particular religion, but the decision should be an informed choice.

My reflections!

What did you believe about God & religion?

I have been quite confused about  God’s existence. Especially coming from a family that has many superstitions and conservative outlook. After many life experiences, I started questioning god, religions & traditions. I didn’t find meaning and happiness in them and was fortunate enough to follow my own thirst about god without any interference from anyone.  

What doubts did you have, if any?

In weak moments, whom to talk to, to look up to. The only thing that I would mention about any god in a way was chanting the “Gayatri Mantra” to gain strength in situations that involved confrontation or situations that required courage. Apart from this I do think or talk about god.

What are your beliefs today?

Got some clarity to my doubts/confusions. To start of will replace the Gayatri Mantra with some self talk/affirmation or talk with an imaginary friend.

What questions do you still have?

Not as of now. Actually many but head is really messed up now!

Regarding religious beliefs, what do you see people grappling with?

Pressure from family members especially elders who aren’t ready to even listen to a question, conditioning, lack of courage and much more.

Why do I believe or not believe in God?

I never thought about it so seriously and deeply before as I did in last 2 days. It’s about finding what you believe actually and whether what you believe is right or wrong or you just don’t know. I thought I never believed in god or I may say that I was never ritualistic or idol worshiper or inclined towards visiting temples for every single problem of mine. I haven’t been to temples or performed “poojas” for ages but my belief is that there is someone or something there which is looking after us and some what I believe in Karma. We humans have an innate need to understand the purpose behind things. It’s revolutionary at its heart. When something happens we are hardwired to look for rationale.

We have an intense emotional need to fill in the blanks of the universe that our minds simply cannot answer and our technology seems forever unable to provide.  “What does all this mean?”  “What happens after death?”  “Why do things happen the way they do?”  While in the process of looking for answers, there are still many things which need further analysis in order to agree or disagree with something.

While I am very clear about what I don’t want to do (to follow any religion, worship the god or do daily rituals) as this is my conscious choice. But it may be wrong as a parent to instill my religious beliefs in my kid. One of our basic duties as parents is to expose them to all possibilities and let them decide that what they want to follow and what not.

People I see around are a mix of believers, non-believers, believers with certain motives behind that may be social, political etc. For some people, they blindly follow things without looking at the logic behind or they believe there is no logic it’s just faith and it very easy to fool them. That is why some religious leaders, the so-called babas have made a money making business out of it. That is why it becomes very important to evaluate what you believe in and let not others take advantage of it!

Do I believe in God……….a question worth exploring?

Since my childhood, I have heard a lot of discussions in my family on the topic of ‘Existence of God’. This used to be the most hot topic of discussion. Though I used to be a silent listener then but these discussions had shaped my views on God and Religion. I married into a family of strong believers of God. I started following many rituals though I was not convinced internally but still did many of them to be part of my new family (herd mentality to be blamed for here :-)). The session on ‘My relationship with religion and God’ as part of the Critical Thinking Life Classes helped me to see things more clearly. I always believed that God doesn’t exist. I believe that whatever happens has a scientific reason/logic behind it. Each and every event can be logically explained. Spirituality doesn’t need Religion. One can be with their own divine self, can experience growth, can be a good human being, can care for people and environment without taking support of Religion.

As an educator, I definitely feel more responsible in shaping my student’s views on Religion and God. Few questions that I still ponder upon are: How do we equip children with the right questioning skills to ensure that they look for justifications before believing anything? What role can education system/school play in forming belief system of today’s generation?

Fear of death and problem, herd mentality, lack of critical thinking in general, are some of the reasons which don’t allow people to question about the existence of God and certain rituals of their religion. Different political parties, priests and so called God-men take advantage of this paralyzed situation for their own benefit. Today’s generation must be taught explicitly to question all the beliefs that they have brought up with. The amount of money and resources spent on building temples and doing different rituals make me worry. As a school/ teacher, we surely have  bigger responsibility to play in the society………..”The Intellectual’s folly“.

The so called ‘Doctrines of Piety’

God, divinity, beliefs and religion these terms seem closely interwoven but not really so. Borrowing a line from the movie OMG, most of us are “God fearing people and not God loving people” and this is reflected in our interactions with the so called Higher Being”.

I have never questioned the existence of God. He is there, where I do not know, whether up there or within me or around me or everywhere. Religion and religious beliefs are something that I have questioned since a long time. I believe that religion is more convenience based rather than belief based. It is more convenient to follow than question. When you question you risk disapproval, disdain and even plain boycott. Being social animals we prefer to remain withing the folds of society rather than plainly rebel. We try to make peace with what is happening rather raise inconvenient often blasphemous queries.

These two days of Critical Thinking classes have reinforced some of my convictions. There can never be one size that fits all as far as religion and beliefs are concerned. There has been social pressure on me from time to time to succumb to a lot of rituals because ‘good believers’ have to follow the path. That is the only way to salvation. These discussions have strengthened my resolve that the path will be difficult but that is the one I choose to tread. There will be backlash too, but hey, what is life if all is too rosy! Religion needs to be questioned and I am ready.

Ayman Shaikhmahmud

God ..religion…???

Always a question to hold… whether there is a GOD? Just because I cannot prove his existence or his non existence… what does it boil down to?

I always believed there is a Supreme power above us who can do as He wills, and we are not supposed to question Him…. I am doubtful whether I will ever be able to question His plans… maybe after death.

What if there is no afterlife? What if all this is an elaborate hoax??

People need to have some anchor for understanding the good and the bad– morals… religion was meant to guide people towards the right path… it evolved into something more sinister… a leader who is hungry for power.. a money making device… etc.

Maybe its time to rethink our beliefs about God and religion, as all knowing and all encompassing.. everyone cannot be right for everything and hence religious leaders maybe wrong on some points and right on some points.

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