Commonality and not differences

commonalityMy maid, who happens to be a Muslim was here when my sister-in-law was fasting once, abstaining even from water. The season was summer and it was quite difficult to not drink water. My husband and others kept telling my sister-in-law to have something to eat or  at least drink water. “You may get dehydrated in this heat,” she was told. Still, she stuck to her decision and did continue her fast saying “God will take care of me just like He takes care of everything else”.

The next day, my maid while giving a glass of water to my sister-in-law said, “You are right, Didi. God does take care even when we fast during Ramadan. I have been told by so many not to fast but have never felt tired or weak all through the month. They both smiled for they had completely understood each other.

This really was a true moment of solidarity. We often think of all the differences we have with each other but the fact is, we have more in common with each other. Especially in the area of faith, we all believe in a higher power, whatever we may call it. What really matters is we know we will be taken care of as there is someone up there, who always has our interest at heart.

As seen in the little anecdote above, people who understand the true intent behind an act always see the commonality and never the differences.  This is how solidarity is born.  Through and with complete understanding. Without trying to do this, we often keep criticising and judging others which is why even something like a fast, music or prayer is criticized and condemned. Instead, if we just take a moment to look at another’s statement or situation with complete understanding, the world would indeed be a better place.

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Spiritual growth through elimination of negatives

There seems to be a lot of discussion on what we believe in nowadays, much more than earlier. Is this a sign of people moving towards spirituality or is it a sign of confusion?

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The fact is, what one believes in is less important than the practice of humanity. Each faith itself has many variants.

In Hinduism, the Advaitata philosophy, elaborated by Shankaracharya, is a monoistic system of thought that expounds the unity of atma and paramatma. Here,the individual (atman) and the whole (brahman) are the same.

A slightly different view is that of the Visishtadvaita philosophy, propounded by Ramanujacharya. Here, the relationship of God to the Soul and the Universe is like the relationship of the soul to the body. Hence, although they are linked, there is a distinction, too. Final release of man (moksha) comes, by the Lord’s grace and annihilation of one’s karma by way of a communion with God.

The Dwaita philosophy of Sree Madhavacharya makes a clear distinction between God and his creation. Founded by Shri Madhavacharya, this system avers that souls are not created by God but depend on Him to evolve. In other words, God is the potter causing the clay to emerge, rather than being the source of the clay itself.

In Kashmir Shaivism and its branch, the Tantrik philosophy, Shiva is the “Universal Consciousness”, from which we all have descended. We pass through several tattvas or stages of spiritual evolution. As long as one resides in the lower tattvas , one is the victim of sadness and sorrow and is entangled in the wheel of repeated births and deaths, and it is through moving forward, that we closer to the a recognition of one’s oneness with ‘Parama Shiva’ , the absolute.

These schools may seem diverse at first, but all these different philosophies and indeed all faiths, are essentially in agreement, if only we look closer.

This is also true of all faiths.

This can, perhaps be best understood through a process of progressive negation that would also lead us towards a better understanding of the true nature of divinity, not all of which all be verbalized.

This process has its uses in almost all areas of research and understanding. All scientific research is driven by a progressive negation of possibilities and so is medical diagnosis.

A research into divinity too can best be served by such a process. At the very basic level, one can eliminate any action influenced or driven by ego, anger, greed, jealousy and all other human failings as separate from God.

Moving forward, we can see that rituals and even pilgrimages, while serving the purpose of bring us closer to divinity if practiced in the true spirit, are not God itself.

Immersed in this research, we would be able to gradually see divinity emerging.

Ultimately, whether we move closer to him as his creation or merge with him as a part of him is just a detail, it is the common goal of spiritual growth that is important.

Then of course, unity too will happen for unity, essentially is the sharing of a common goal, not the pursuit of it in an identical manner.

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