(a young man posted this on mangalore.com message board): What is next? Fri Sep 24 06:18:19 1999 I married a beautiful girl two year back. Somehow I could not live with her and just divorced. I do not have any child. What should I do further. How to live my remaining life? Please suggest me.
Here is my response:
My sympathy goes out to you concerning your sorrow. Many people look for happiness and meaning outside of themselves, in a spouse, a child, a parent, a job, friends, material possessions, food, drink, amusements.
The religious answer is that we are always desiring things because we feel an emptiness within, somehow incomplete. We think that if we can only marry a certain person, buy a certain fancy car, earn a special academic degree, that THEN we shall finally be happy and fulfilled. But our emptiness stems from a dim memory deep within us that we were once a part of God, and now we suffer from SEPARATION. So we have a hunger which can never be filled; a thirst which can never be quenched.
Even Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, "If you drink the water in this well, you shall thirst again in a little while, but I can give you LIVING WATERS, which, once you drink, you shall never thirst again." (I am paraphrasing again, but this is the essence of what was said.)
Perhaps the first step to happiness and peace is to recognize the futility of seeking them outside ourselves.
We all know examples of very wealthy, famous, powerful people who become so unhappy as to take their own lives in suicide. This is a lesson to us that the their fame and wealth did not help alleviate the pain of their own existence.
We also know examples of people who managed to find peace in happiness and meaning even in the poorest and most oppressive circumstances, even in places such as a Jewish Concentration camp in Germany. You might like to read Viktor Frankl's book "Mans Search for Meaning". He is a medical doctor who survived a German concentration camp in WWII.
As for your life, simply meet new people, nice decent people, and try to be their friends. You will see that, if you are patient, an appropriate spouse and life partner will be provided for you. Sometimes happiness comes when we are not expecting it or looking for it.
It is ironic that the other day, I was reading something about peace and happiness which quoted Gandhi as saying, "Peace must be found in turmoil, not in tranquility. What value to me is someone who tells me to find peace in a tranquil situation. OF COURSE THERE IS PEACE IN PEACE, but what good is that to me. Peace is only of value to me if I can find it in the midst of turmoil, discord, strife, adversity." I suppose one might say the same of Holiness or Sanctity. Of course there is Holiness in the Holy, but it is more profitable to find Holiness in the midst of evil and wickedness, for it is when you are in the midst of wickedness that holiness is most needful.
This post seems sufficiently long for now, though I feel I could say more. I will think about these things, and your situation, and as more occurs to me, I will add additional posts to this one.
Hope these words help you a little.
An additional question:
Re: Strive to find happiness and meaning within yourself
Fri Sep 24 08:26:25 1999
Thank you Sitaramji for your kind advice. Is there any solution in Islam for my problem?
Certainly, if you read this message board regularly, you know my position on Islam, which leads me to suspect that perhaps you are baiting me for your own amusement, to see my reaction.
Nevertheless, I will answer your question honestly. Any individual who is able to achieve in their life, in their heart, a deep and abiding faith and belief and confidence IN ANY RELIGION, be it Islam, Christianity, Saivite, Vaishnav, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Sufi or Zoroastrian; THAT person will experience great comfort and peace and their hearts will always be filled with hope.
Such Faith is a gift from God to a particular individual. We cannot choose or will to have such faith, saying "Aha! Today I will take steps to become a person of deep faith!". No, it is a gift which is given only to those who are ripe for it, who have matured from past experiences.
Nor can one truly CHOOSE a religion or belief. This again is something which depends on the indivdual's character and nature, conditioned by past experiences in this life, or in previous births.
This is why it is a futile and ignorant effort that many religions undertake to "convert the whole world" to some "one true faith".
For those familiar with Hindu scriptures, I will point out that the wicked King Ravanna of Lanka, enemy to the Lord Ram, Avatar of Lord Vishnu; Ravanna also had a religion, and it was from this religion that Ravanna drew his strength to be an adversary of the Lord.
If we turn our attention to Jesus and His temptation in the desert, we notice that even Satan seems to have had religion, since Satan quotes chapter and verse from the scriptures several times, and asks Jesus to bow down and worship him. Even the demons in the possessed man, in a sense "prayed" to Jesus, in that they requested him to send them into the herd of swine, and their prayers were answered!
So, you see, even the wicked have a religion. Even devils and demons have a religion.
Even superstitious people, such as some professional baseball players, have a religion, in the sense that their ritualistic gestures, such as touching the brim of their cap so many times "for luck"; its a form of OFFERING or POOJA, and in return they hope for something AUSPICIOUS.
The true miracle of God is the Maya or Illusion of "the one true faith". Each of us believes that we are uniquely in possesion of the truth, the Lord's most intimate devotees, a chosen people, elect. Every pious Hasidic Jew believes this. Every Muslim Iman is convinced of this. Hindu Sanyassins and Roman Catholic priests and nuns feel this with the utmost certainty. It is the protection of this Maya or Illusion of our unique, priveliged relationship with God which gives us the strength and courage to practice our devotions.
Perhaps the best religion is patience, persistance, reflection humility, and surrender.
Be persistant in performing life's duties or Dharma. Be patient and dont give up. At each moment of life, under every circumstance, continually reflect within yourself, "Where have I come from? What am I? Who am I? What is my ultimate purpose? What is my ultimate destination." Finally, have the humility to recognize your own dharma and nature, and accept it, surrender to it.
If you devoutly follow THIS religion, whose FIVE PILLARS are patience, persistance, reflection, humility, surrender. Then all else which is necessary for you shall be added in due time; spouse, children, friends, outward religion, career.
Remember, if you cannot be a friend to yourself, then how can you expect anyone else, even God, to be your friend. Even if they ARE your friends, if you are an enemy to yourself, you will reject their friendship, or not recognize it. If you cannot help yourself, then how any some outside agency, any angel or prophet or incarnation help you; since even if they ARE trying to help you, it is only through your CO-OPERATION, i.e. helping yourself, that you will allow them to help you.
You remember in Christian scriptures the story of the Prodigal son who asked his Father for his inheritance, and then squandered it in a foreign land, and fell into poverty. Yet, when the Prodical son reflected within himself that he had reached a low estate, and hit rock bottom; and then resolved to return to his Father,.... well, you will observe that the Prodigal son was doing everything that I am advising you hear. As the Prodigal son approached the Fathers home, the Father saw him from a long way off, and came out of the house and ran to meet the son. So for each step that the Prodigal son took homwards, the Father was taking ten running strides. But you see, it all hinged on the Prodigal sons OWN actions and freewill choice. Once the Prodigal son INITIATES those small steps, then the Father ADDS what is necessary, by running to meet the son.
Lord Krishna says in Chapter 9 of the Gita; "What ever My devotee lacks, I suppliment and compliment and complete; and whatever My devotee has achieved on their own, is preserved and conserved and in no wise lost."
As to your specific question regarding Islam, you will notice which religions and scriptures I have drawn my parables and examples from.
Islam teaches that Allah creates and pre-destines and fore-knows each and every soul as a saved soul or a damned soul. Allah simply allows them to be born into the world, so that their actions will CONFIRM their damnation, and they will have no reason to complain that they were never given a chance. Furthermore, the Koran explicitly states many times, that Allah will INTENTIONALLY blind the unbeliever, and stop their ears, and abandon them so that they may fall into even DEEPER condemnation.
Nevertheless, if it is nature to find comfort in Islamic doctrines and practices, then that is your Dharma, and you must make the best of it.
I never tire of quoting from the Koran Surah 5, verse 48 (I believe)... where Allah says, "IF I HAD WANTED TO, I could have created ALL PEOPLE as one religion and nation, BUT FOR MY OWN REASONS, I chose to create people as DIFFERENT religions and races and nations (including Hindu). So, IF YOU MUST COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER, then compete in doing GOOD WORKS, and when you return to Me, I shall explain to you the REASONS for the differences between you."
Of course, I am paraphrasing that verse of the Koran from memory, and many Orthodox Muslims will violently object that my words do not reflect the true meaning and intent of that verse (obviously, since my version ascribes to God a very tolerant INTERFAITH attitude). But my paraphrase describes what I believe God would actually say, and if God's nature is antithetical to such sentiments, then I have no interest in worshiping such a God, not even to gain the reward of a carnal Pardise, slopping like a swine in rivers of wine and milk and honey, nor to avoid the tortures of hell, wheree I am "given a fresh skin" each time my skin burns away, so that I may "taste the torment").
No thanks. No such God for me. I prefer to be in hell next to Gandhi and Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul and the Dalai Lama, since the Koran says that hell is especially reserved for those who do not submit to Islam.
I hope my honest answers will help you, assuming that your question is sincere, and that you are not simply baiting me for your own amusement.
Re: Is there a solution in Islam.
Fri Sep 24 10:11:42 1999 Thank you my dear Sitaramji. I was really serious when I asked this question whether there is solution in Islam for my present problem.
I have come across many Muslims who are dragging me saying that Islam will solve all our problems. I have read many of your messages and found you have done deep study in many religions including Islam. Hence I put question to you.
I am very much grateful to you for responding me sparing your valuable time.
Hope now I will be able to think independently and take the decision of my future.
Thank you once again.
With Love and Respects,
I am glad that your question was sincere. Forgive me for being suspicious.
Until I began to visit this message board (at the invitation of a Muslim) I was quite unaware of how life might be in a city in India such as Mangalore; the pressures and propaganda which Muslims aggressively exert on their neighbors to convert. Since Muslims represent only a small minority in India, between 10 or 20 per cent (I forget the exact figure) you can just imagine what tremendous pressure must be exerted upon non-Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia!
Of course, Christians also are agressive in seeking converts, but not to the extent that Muslims are, and not with such resort to force, bribes, threats, or violence.
Hindus (with the exception of Hare Krishnas) and Jews (with the exception of Lubavitchers) and Buddhists (with the excption of Soka Gakkai) are not aggressive or prosyletizing.
I am gladdened to see the Hindus on this board being so much more vocal. Perhaps there is a reason why I have come here.
I want you to choose your religion for yourself. You will notice in my posts that I always offer choices and varieties and never say that one path is particularly good over another. I even have some good things, in fact many good things, to say about the Sufi denomination of Islam.
Bear in mind that, if you do choose Orthodox Islam, I for one will not personally condemn you. I do not believe in an eternal Hell or a powerful Satan figure, so I certainly cannot condemn you to Hell and Torments for your choice. I believe that God is very merciful, and give each soul as many chances as are necessary (in the form of re-birth) until that soul can mature and ripen and become itself Divine.
And we Hindus must bow in gratitude to our Muslim oppressors, for they are great teachers to us and have greatly contributed to the strength and equanimity of Sanatan Dharma. And where would Tulsidas and the Ramacharitamanasa be without Ravanna? Where would Schindler's List be without Hitler? What would Jesus do without Judas Iscariot? Jesus Himself said, "It is necessary that such a one betray me, but woe to him who has been born into this world for that task, better that he were never born". (I am paraphrasing from my poor old memory, but I am certain that Jesus says something like this, and these words are MOST SIGNIFICANT regarding rebirth and the function of EVIL in the world.
I raise my hand to you in Auspicious Mudra, Kalyanamastu!
May you find the peace and happiness which every conscious being seeks!
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti, Hari Om!