This is the first time I am outside of India for the New Year. Its really weird to see my friends and family back home sending new year greetings when its still 2012 here in the US.
Its so weird. Why? Because in India dates and times are very important. Peoples' lives are decided on the basis of their birth date and time. Traditions such as performing rituals before actually living in a house are supposed to guarantee good luck and happiness just as matching the birth-dates of the bride and groom is supposed to guarantee marital bliss. The basic time difference makes all the above seem meaningless to me.
The amazing thing is that no one has challenged any of these beliefs. I have never seen any of these rituals succeeding any more than not doing anything at all to control the future. Yet, I have met and known innumerable people so sure of these systems that all I can do is shake my head at their sureness. Don’t people in the rest of the world live happily without resorting to 'vaastu' and astrology?
As per my experience, the future can only be controlled to some extent by one’s own effort. Logic coupled with consideration for others creates a happier tomorrow. A happier future does not come about by offloading the responsibility of responsible and considerate behavior on an unseen God. If you simply cannot live without believing in God, a more empowering belief is to think that God gave us intelligence to use it to analyze things, to know about our-self and attain bliss.
Most of us in India today are living lives which are completely different from the traditional lives one would have led. We are more Western than Indian today. We wear Western clothes, do Western jobs & speak mostly English – yet we don’t have the Western mindset of questioning and concluding and taking action. I am not saying ‘stop believing in God’. I am saying ‘start looking for the truth of God’. Funnily the best example of this is of Eastern origin – Gautama Buddha.
Of course there are lots of closed-minded people in the West who will kill in the name of religion & color but these should not be used as excuses for not learning something from the West.
Again, one must be careful while learning Western attitudes and values. In India, even poor families can be happy because a big portion of our happiness comes from our families, friends and the community and not just for material possessions. This again does not go to say similar situations are not found in the West.
Now, the same societal-network in India also creates unhappiness since there is a
deep-rooted class distinction in our society. People are treated differently based on various factors one of them being the money they possess. However, this is just a statement and not the real problem – the real problem is when “WE”, when “I” and when “YOU” approach a person with this mentality.
A lot of work is needed to overcome such mind-programming which we have been exposed to since childhood. Anyone remembers adults telling us to ‘do namaste to God one last time‘ if we came across a sweeper/cleaning-lady just as we left the house on an exam day? This is what I mean. In the West, I don’t see people looking down on anyone based on his/her occupation. This is one learning we should definitely internalize.
Be like bamboo is what Bruce Lee said. I even remember reading a story in school of an oak-tree getting uprooted in a storm because of its rigidity. I have been a martial arts student and instructor for the last 5 years and I have tried to apply the bamboo principle to the physical. However it is even more important to have flexibility of mind – be like bamboo – be flexible about things you believe.
Beliefs in old systems like ‘rahu-kaal’, various poojas and havans, kundali-matching, praying before exams (nothing like an insurance from God) need to be critically examined. Self trust and an analytical mind powered by desire for a sustainable and happy future needs to be fostered.
It will take a massive amount of courage to stand by what you see, feel, analyze and conclude. Its easy to go against the goodness of your logic because we have been taught not to trust in ourselves. We’d rather trust unseen, unfelt and unproven methods over our own divine nature and power.
Let this New Year be the year when we take back this power which is rightfully ours.