COVID19 has changed many of our perceptions and have taught us many new lessons. We all agree to the fact that Doctors are the real heroes in the war against COVID19. In India, we have seen that due to some religious leaders, the spread of the disease became a challenge for the authority. All these lead us to believe that in today’s world what matters is the science. When all the temples and churches are closed, hospitals are working on war foot. When religious leaders are spending their time in isolation, doctors and nurses are risking their lives to save us. Does this mean that religion is of no use and have lost its battle against COVID19?
Religion never had the fight against any disease. That was always the aim of science and medicine. Religions’ true fight is and always was against ignorance. However, I must admit that the way religion is being followed today, we have lost the half battle against ignorance. The bitter truth is that this ignorance is more prevailing in people who are controlling the religions. We all are following these leaders without applying our own mind and that is the reason why many of us has lost faith and trust in religion.
To discuss this further, I would take the reference from Swami Vivekananda’s lectures on the topic. All our knowledge is based upon the experience. We go from less knowledge to more knowledge and then to the particular knowledge based on our experience. People find the truth in exact science because they can see the direct result through experience. The science does not tell you to believe anything, they show you what they have found through the experiment. Another aspect is that these scientific findings appeal in the same way to humanity. Medicines work in the same way and do not differentiate based on the country or caste. Now the question is has religion any such basis? Swamiji answered this in both affirmative and in the negative.
Religion is generally taught all over the world is based on faith and belief. Most of the religions are based on theories and due to these different theories, religions are quarrelling with one another. Some leaders would say that there is a super being sitting above the cloud who is controlling the universe. The whole universe is being asked to believe this solely based on the authority of those leaders. Similarly, I have my own ideas and I ask people to believe that, but if they ask the reason behind it, then I do not have answers. This is the reason why most of the educated people reject religion based only on theories. However, in all these theories we find that they are based on universal experiences.
When we analyse all the religions, we find that they are based on the experiences of particular persons. Christians ask you to believe in Christianity, to believe in Christ and to believe in him as the incarnation of God, to believe in God, in a soul and in a better state of that soul. Jains would tell you to believe in all their Gods, believe in God Mahavir and all his teachings. If we ask them for the reason, then they say because they believe in their God. What is needed is to go to the fountain head of Christianity and Jainism and we will find that they are based on the personal experiences of Christ and Mahavir. They said they saw God, but their disciple will say they felt God. Similarly, Buddhism is based on the personal experiences of Guatama, the Buddha. They all experienced the truth and preached it to the world.
In Hinduism, ancient books like Vedas were written by Rishis or Sages. They also experienced certain truths and they passed it on to the world through ancient books. This proves that all the religions of the world have been built on one universal foundation – the direct experience. All those whom we see as an incarnation of God saw God and saw their own souls and they saw their eternity. This is what they preached to the world. They never said that be content with theories. They showed us the ways to see God in our own direct experience.
It is unfortunate that we started believing that these direct experiences were possible for few such Men and it is not possible in today’s world. Swamiji clearly denied this and said that if one person in this world can have such experience, then it is possible for everyone to have it. We have to be mindful that we would have to follow the path shown by those incarnations of God. However, we are only content with some rituals passed on by our forefathers and lack the courage and commitment to go to the fountainhead of these religions. Yoga and Vedanta do not tell you to believe in any theory or rituals but they call for direct experience.
Religions and spirituality were never meant to fight against physical disease. They were meant to remove ignorance and give us the direct experience of God. We all need to learn whether it is science or religion what matters is the direct experience. This is the time to change our perceptions. This is the time to let go of all those theories and look for direct experience.