Okay, all you Western skeptics.
You think YOU'VE got it tough?
Try being an atheist in India.
Some folks are trying and they can probably use all the help & support they can get.
Now, today at church we had a guest who lives half the year in an ashram in southern India, following a lady popularly known as The Hugging Saint. We saw DVD's of "Amma's" work -- she's attained multiple honors from the UN and the Indian government, and there is no doubt whatsoever that she has done phenomenal work for humanitarian causes.
It's certainly not difficult to become inspired by Amma's accomplishments. Our guest today talked about how she "was called -- sold everything and went to join the ashram." I pondered this -- over the last year or so I've met more than a couple of people who have chucked nearly everything in the material world to devote themselves full-time to one spiritual cause or another.
Sometimes it's tempting to contemplate. A great many of us, I think, often look around and ask themselves, Is this all there is? Is this what life's about - schlepping back and forth to the office every day, trying to keep ourselves from going under, losing this house, with its carpeting, Cuisinarts and computers? Would it be such a radical leap to give it all up and just go where the need is greatest? To save just one life? To bring hope?
Unlike some uber-materialists like Rush Limbaugh, I find no reason to denigrate people who adopt such an ascetic lifestyle. In fact, the older I get, the more sense it makes.
And that's the place where you start hearing the spiritual talk. The "higher purpose" talk.
Is it a spiritual undertaking to care more about other people's lives and well-being than your own interests? It's troubling to me, because it's nearly impossible to hear anyone talk about wanting to adopt a self-denying existence without bringing invisible beings into it. Seems to me, it's enough just to say, "Hey, look at this teeming mass of humanity we're all part of. We need a way to ensure that we don't lower ourselves to a primitive, animalistic state just to survive. We need a way to achieve our greatest potential, make the most of the few decades we have here and secure the future for the generations that follow."
I find it interesting how people who have come back from the brink of extinction (victims of flood, earthquake, famine, etc.) almost immediately turn inward and start wasting their time and energy setting up shrines and praising an imaginary being, rather than rolling up their sleeves and saying "Those people who rebuilt our village and got the power on are the ones we should be inspired by. I'm going to learn how to build houses and roads and make a difference." Or "None of this can be achieved without education -- I'm going to get some people together and start a school." Certainly some people do just that -- judging by the videos we saw today, that's the mindset in some places But the same catastrophes are going to just keep happening until people start looking at life in a pragmatic way, rather than just relying on superstition and magic.
Plenty of rambling thoughts here -- sorry!
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Okay, all you Western skeptics.