A person’s faith is a purely personal and subjective issue. “Whether belief or un/non-belief, faith or faithlessness, theism or atheism, we all must live with our belief system without wearing it on our sleeve because peaceful co-existence depends neither on god nor on its absence. Humankind has much to look forward to in a state of certitude. One, therefore, should reject theism and atheism. Both are obscure. Both are obdurate and both are equally morbid.” English novelist W Somerset Maugham’s pithy words from his celebrated novel Of Human Bondage articulate the writer’s viewpoint on the matter of belief.
We all tend to act so mono-maniacally and at times become so stubborn that we never realise that others, too, have a point worth paying heed to. This generally happens in the matter of faith and no-faith. I’ve never had belief in any esoteric belief pattern or system, yet i don’t like Richard Dawkins’ brand of militant and abusive atheism. He seems to have slammed all the doors on faith. So too, the late Christopher Hitchins, US journalist-writer of the polemic book God Is Not Great. Here in India and in Pune, our very own Shriram Lagoo leaves no opportunity to cast aspersions on believers. This is unfair.
Samkhya Darshan, one of the six schools of Eastern philosophy and a predominantly agnostic system, believes that man must never indulge in the vagueness of esoteric beliefs and leave them for lotus-eaters to dwell upon. In a dictum in Samkhya Darshan, Sage Prastihant tells his disciples, “When there’s a subject that can never be approved or disapproved, you’d better not delve into it. It leads you nowhere.” What we cannot prove or disprove, must not be a bone of contention.
Ancient Greek philosophers used to laugh at those who’d argue endlessly on the nature and preferences of their gods like Minerva, Apollo, Aphrodite and Venus, among others. And there were atheists, even at that time, who’d refute believers’ convictions.
Philosophers knew that there were no such gods, but they never indulged in mindless philosophical and theological debates. They had much greater tasks to accomplish than waste their time in futile debates and discourses on ‘god or no god’.
Today, the entire modern world knows that all those Greek gods and goddesses were probably imaginary. Perhaps they never existed. But the evolved philosophers kept themselves away from this debate. Legendary British historian, EP Thompson, observed that, “Majority of atheistic Greek philosophers never made an issue of their complete absence of belief – not that they were scared. They found nothing so special and self-eulogising about their atheism. They were fully evolved.”
A truly evolved and enlightened person goes beyond the precincts of faith. If one’s happy in his belief, however puerile it may seem to others, why should it pose a problem to others? No one is completely right or wrong. Even a non-functional watch shows the right time twice a day.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper