When it comes to religion, a lack of knowledge about the unknown has meant that I have come to classify myself as a sort of agnostic (as opposed to atheistic), but if you were to argue with me about God and rituals you’ll find I’m mostly just apathetic. I have been known to do rituals simply because they need to be done: it matters little to me that they are done at all; I can do them because they matter to others. My ‘religious beliefs’ are thus dynamic enough to be classified by more than one person as mere hypocrisy.
How and why I lost the absolute faith that characterized most of my childhood – I don’t know. Sometimes these things happen. A loss of faith (or a lack of understanding) in what rituals signify eventually means that religion itself starts to seem very arbitrary. Merely performing the rituals did not prove much to me, and not performing them made it that much harder to hold onto what faith I had left. Eventually, normal absolutes such as a religious basis for God became superficial.
Recently, however, events have happened to make me question my own agnosticism. There was this year’s avani avittam (related post still in progress), and the associated realization that the real depths of religion can only be understood by accepting everything about it completely. Hoping that faith is rejuvenated based on doing one set of rituals a year (no matter how sincerely) is not really doing much at all – indeed, it can seem hypocritical (as I’ve pointed out). Giving a way of life a real chance is the only way it can have a real effect. On the flip-side, my current apathy is based on the fact that blind faith does not hold up in my own scrutiny. Doing something just once a year for the sake of faith and assuming that the reason to do it will be found – and then finding none – has killed a lot of my faith. As cliched as it may sound, I need a reason better than ‘blind faith’ to accept religion completely again.
A second event, more recent, brought home to me the fact that all events are generally explained in one of a few ways: (1) a game of chance, (2) a series of pre-ordained events, (3) logical steps which led to a logical conclusion. However, the results of such events (whether fortunate or unfortunate) can defy any such explanation.
We can blame a mysterious ‘luck factor’ for the result – this effectively means we can only control so much of our own actions (for e.g. “Life is 99% effort, 1% luck” and so on). Alternatively we can explain it as the demonstration of a Higher Power, which also in a way curtails the limits of our own actions.
I tend to side with the former explanation. My logic runs thus: if my best efforts are put in,there is a high chance that luck favors me. Now, how is this different from believing in God? All too often, not getting what we want means we automatically deem ourselves undeserving. Or we conclude we didn’t ‘do enough for God’. And at this point I get pissed off, as I see this as escapism – you don’t want to take responsibility for your actions (or inactions). Conversely, getting what we want is attributed to God, and not enough credit is given to what we have personally done – a different kind of escapism. Not having an entity to blame it on seems to prevent this sort of escapism.
After this last event (yes, this so-called ‘event’ was not a good thing – and no, I don’t want to go into details right now), things have gotten murky. Luck favored me in one way, but not to the extent that the event did not happen at all. To my knowledge, I did everything I was supposed to do. It is not the first time that such an event has happened. In the earlier event, I could see a clear link between my own actions and the result. I can’t now. All I can see is that my so-called ‘luck factor’ has favored me in similar ways in both situations. Which somehow goes against the spirit of my rationalization.
It would be amazing to say that this last event has changed my life, more so when I take it in conjunction with what I realized during avani avittam this year. But I hate doing things the easy way. I really want start believing in God completely, forget all the ‘Higher-Power-is-only-possible’ crap, and somehow rediscover my latent faith. I can’t rationalize this course of action easily though. It seems as though I am trying to believe something just because I got lucky twice. Like I’m condoning every cliche in the book by letting one event change my life.
Starting from blind faith, I explored to the best of my ability what it really meant to me. It meant I rationally chose the path of agnosticism – I want to now rationally find a way to theism.
p.s. It is possible that all my arguments are not perfect, and I know they can seem hypocritical to a fault. It is possible I have not analyzed/presented this as best possible. Indulgence and understanding is appreciated, and debate is encouraged.