Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Opium of the masses

The internet caters to almost every fantasy known to mankind so it is no surprise that there are websites dedicated to man’s ultimate fantasy – god belief. About a year or so ago I was egged on by a few rationalist friends to join a website dedicated to this fantasy so we could keep abreast on how new marketing techniques were being developed by religious salesmen targeting those who have grown up taught to believe that a spiritual leader is a necessity. I became a member of the Speaking Tree.

I had lost interest almost instantly akin to someone walking into a lunatic asylum where the immediate threat to one’s sanity was far more pressing than the desire to connect with someone. The place is filled with self styled swamis and gurus. People calling themselves Double Misters aka Sri Sri Ravishankar to those titling themselves with grand sounding names like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. In the real world we’d have to earn titles from institutions based on our prowess in a particular subject like in engineering or medicine to call oneself a doctor for example but these people are in the wild west of a fantasy world and can self title themselves. If Karl Marx, the man who said, ‘religion is the opium of the masses’, were to be alive today, he’d refer to the Speaking Tree website as a drug store.

Out of the numerous alerts that fill my inbox from this website, one in particular caught my eye. It was titled ‘Whether God Exists OrNot?‘. I was curious, read it and was terribly disappointed. The write up was terribly flawed and after a long time I felt the need to make some noise to warn unsuspecting people that there was bovine excreta in their path. I continued to read through some of the other comments subsequently and found most amusing the degree to which believers will bend in order to protect their delusions.

Through the various posts that these self styled gurus are posting there, the one thing you will notice in common is the arrogance with which they speak. Without a shadow of a doubt they know there is a supernatural force, a power that can interfere with your life, either positively or negatively. They will repackage and define it back to you in many ways where one moment the god is within you and then contradict it soon after by asking you to bow to a deity but at the end of it all they are convinced that this power is responsible for everything. Rationalists on the other hand are the opposite. They admit that they don't have answers to so many things unknown and don't claim to know the answer to how everything came into being. Rationalists are in a quest to find answers based on observable and verifiable evidence and never assert anything till they can backup their claim.

By this yardstick no evidence has yet been found to support the deluded beliefs offered by these so called swamis and gurus and yet without a shred of proof they arrogantly assert that there is an almighty that is responsible for everything. Of course the 'absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence' but then the absence of evidence does not give us a reason to blindly believe in something either. All it does is to leave us without the knowledge to assert anything. I cannot assert there is no god just as much as I cannot assert that there is no Santa Claus. Popular folklore provides us with detail on where Santa stays and how he travels. I have no evidence for this but that does not mean it cannot be true. Every fantasy story in the world is like this but as you can very well see there is no practical application in believing in something that has no evidence. It is wise to believe in phenomenon and claims that can be verified and all else is just a waste of time.

The hapless addicts hang around the website for their dose of spirituality from the spiritual drug peddlers. The website automatically grades these people based on the number of followers they have. This is where you find the wannabe gurus who shamelessly ask you to follow them, those who throw scientific jargon at you in an apparent bid to claim that they are scientifically literate and cherry pick on scientific discoveries to bolster their deluded conclusions, to the compulsive folk whose purpose is to comment on anything that contradict and threaten their delusions. These people claim to be seeking the truth as well but they have already closed their minds. How will they ever find the truth when they believe they already have the answer to everything in their god?

I know I am trying to compete with belief systems that have taken thousands of years to filter itself and plug all the holes of logical reasoning. A single point answer to all questions will be that it is god’s will. The theist does not search for answers except for in his scriptural books and on the guide lines offered by the book where you are required to hallucinate in the belief that you are experiencing a god. Personal experiences are meaningless to a rationalist. They may fool the gullible but a real truth seeker will not buy into their dream where a god spoke to them. Such phenomenon can be observed in all the world religions and can also be seen at rave parties where people are high on drugs while listening to psychedelic music. Next time watch a bhajan or stasang or a religious gathering of any religion and you will notice the similarities with a rave party. The dynamics are the same.

I feel sympathetic toward theists. They have spent their whole lives building their beliefs on fantasy stories offered by earlier generations. Stories written in an era when there was no knowledge on most of what happened in nature. Stories written under the illumination of oil lamps and not electric bulbs, in an era where they had to go to a pond to wash their orifices after natures call as piped water supply was still eons away. It is quite obvious that those who have grown up fed on a diet of 'surrender to the supernatural' will fall into depression at the realisation that they have wasted their whole lives believing in holy versions of superman and spiderman?


docramya said...

Good one , Adi. Nice to know u r getting back into the groove of writing. :-)

Adithya said...

Thank you doc :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Adithya, Stumbled upon your blog while searching "Sadhguru" on google. I don't know about the posts/comments you read on the other websites you read.. but i think you should watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG2SRxKW3ko

Adithya said...

@Anonymous - He has spoken so much and I can poke holes at many of his claims. He redefines all popular terms to suit what he dishes out. How does that help? The word 'hindu' has been used to define the religions that stems out of the vedas and that is a fact. There is a specific understanding of what shiva is and it is supported by the myriad of stories from mythology and that is a fact. It is of no practical use when he redefines it. Videos produced by a foundation headed by him proclaiming himself as 'sadhguru' is rather pompous. I see no difference between him acquiring a title and how Micheal Jackson acquired his title of 'King of Pop'. They titled themselves. Shameful if you ask me

Anonymous said...

I see your point of view. But I'm open to the idea, it is possible whatever we have interpreted from the books could be wrong and we miss the science behind the story..after all we are still under the influence of 200 years of colonial rule and and all the conqurers before that who went to a great extent to destroy the hindu way of life.History proves that the conquered always gets bashedup and gets converted..only in India..Indus..land of indus or industan it did not happen because there was no religion.. only a culture that was ingeniously engineered by spiritual masters for the upliftment of human consiousness.

Even the vedas were pened down due to the fear of losing the knowledge. in those days it was passed on from gurus to shisyas directly.. no via books.

w.r.t "Self Proclaimed" I see it like this... The spritual tools that he gives us in the form of Inner Engineering / Isha Kriya works very well (for me and many others i know)... Like how MJ's Albums excites everyone. If it was in early days.. spiritual seeking was a way of life.. but today even good things need a lot of marketing nothing wrong about it.

Anonymous said...

And also "Shiva" is used to refer "that which is not (Space)" and the "Aadhi Yogi(The first yogi)". In many mythological stories the later is referred.. and in many the former is referred. So sometimes confusing.. learnt this after a lot of research and querying.

thanks for reading my earlier comments.

Adithya said...

My dear Anonymous,

Suppose you were to ask me, ‘Is not the word mango part of the English language?’, and I answered, ‘Anything that came from the land of England is English and therefore in that sense Mango is English’. Such an answer serves no purpose and is also factually wrong. Listen to the man asking the question in the video again. He specifically mentions, ‘Hindu Religion’ and that is a fact. Rudrakshas and Shivalingas are symbols of the Hindu religion just as much as the crucifix is part of Christianity. I could prove to you that the crucifix is of Roman origin and that it was a torture device but it is without dispute a symbol that denotes Christianity. The man in the video asked a valid question and Jagdish Vasudev the saffron robed man with the beard diluted everything by going off on a tangent.

That the rituals Jagdish Vasudev teaches exhilarates you is well and good. The whiskey my bar tender serves me also exhilarates me. In the mean time I will take every given opportunity to warn people that words like ‘spiritual tools’ and ‘inner engineering’ are just scientific sounding names used by Jagdish Vasudev to sound sophisticated and as such has no significance in reality. At some point you mentioned, “only in India..Indus..land of indus or industan it did not happen because there was no religion” – Is this what Jagdish Vasudev has taught you? I suggest it is time you acquired some information from proper sources like historians and not self proclaimed sadhgurus because recorded reality is very different. The sub continent has had numerous religions and cults and there are mountains of evidence to prove this.

Micheal Jackson sold his creativity as entertainment, whereas Jagdish Vasudev sells his creativity by proclaiming to be someone who can give meaning to your life. In the course of our lives we all take up beliefs in various things and we would all defend our beliefs because we have spent a lot of time developing them. The only issue is that belief systems should be based on things that are grounded in reality. What Jagdish Vasudev offers is based on faith. You have to trust him and there ends your query just as he shut the man in the video. Go beyond that and ask questions. Ask many more people who are well versed in scientific knowledge where they can provide evidence for their claims and then come to a conclusion. If you are open to any idea then be warned that there are opium peddlers out there like Jagdish Vasudev who would love to sell you something that gives you a high.

Everything requires marketing and that is just it. What Jagdish Vasudev offers is also a product and you are the consumer. Now educate yourself on consumer rights because people like him are just packaging worthless gyan and selling it to the unsuspecting

Adithya said...

@Anonymous - Interestingly at that same event Jadish Vasudev has also spoken about what he really thinks about the 'Rudraksh' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUv_YAgUf_M&feature=relmfu

He explains to you without an iota of evidence that the Rudraksh are tear drops of Shiva. An entity which was nothingness is now fleshed out into a being that can cry and perform activities like meditation.

In the same video also lies the danger that I try to highlight. With a scary laugh, he starts off by claiming that doctors are now recommending Rudraksh for lowering blood pressure. Imagine what would happen when an ignorant man with hypertension believing this dangerous claim stops taking his medication.

This is how people like Jagdish Vasudev do bad things. Dispensing wrong information

Anonymous said...

:) Ritual... ? Definitely not. Check out Isha Kriya instructions online. Spiritual practices are very subjective. You cannot explain it.. You have to experience it.. Can you explain how painful it would be if you burn your fingers to a person who has not burnt his fingers? Its like that.

Anonymous said...

On rudraksh...as SJV says, its a story not a fact.. It could be a true story that happened millions of years ago.. I dont know.. Does rudhraksh work? Very well yes. A friend of my wore ekamuki rudraksh.. He was in delhi then preparing for civil services.. In a couple of months he just left everything and went to himalayas.. Fortunately or unfortunately he met a yogi there who interviened in his journey and got rid of the rudraksh and told him to go back to what he was doing as the path he is currently in is not for him..

History is always written by people who are in power.. So i don't trust them. The only other option is archiology.. Which as per my research tends to be in line with what SJV says.. Only in late 18th century people of the sub continent were coined as belonging to Hindu religion by Europians.. The guys who INVENTED christianity.

Adithya said...

My dear anonymous,

I'm here communicating with you by revealing my identity. It would help if you identify yourself too. I spoke of so many issues and you stick on the word 'ritual'. I suggest you read the following link which will give you a definition on 'ritual' - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual. For the benefit of understanding what you are trying to explain to me I checked out Isha Kriya instructions online at the following link - http://www.ishafoundation.org/Ishakriya/Learn-online. If you have by now read the link I have mentioned that describes a 'ritual' you will understand that all the Isha Kriya instructions are nothing but that.

There is something you must understand about rational thinking. Any claim that is made has to be backed up with evidence. You cannot expect people to just accept your word for it. Your story about the second hand knowledge you got from a friend is not admissible. You will need to be able to repeat that effect otherwise it will just remain a story and not a fact. I suggest you watch the following video to get some clarity - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wV_REEdvxo&feature=relmfu

I would like you to share the archaeological evidence that you have which support Jagdish Vasudev's claims. If there is truth in his claim and he can back it up with evidence I will believe him

Anonymous said...

:) Well to start with.. you can look here...



And i'm Prasanna. nice to be in communication with you.

Anonymous said...

On ritual.. i saw the video you suggested. As i understand it.. it tends me to relate a ritual directly with a belief. and a lot of questions about the creation.. Which is exactly the point.

Any spiritual practice(spirutual is NOT relegious) is not a ritual or faith you don't need to believe. it is just a tool/technology when you use it you will experience the outcome which by itself is an evidence.

If you really want to know what spirituality is all about.. you have to disassociate it from religion.

religious people are believers.. spiritual person..seeks.

And spiritual masters like SJV offer tools for the person who seeks to make their seeking a bit effortless.

I'm not saying you should not be skeptical or cautious. you have to do the research before you can trust someone. but do your research thoroughly so that you don't dismiss genuine items as fake.

Personally I think SJV is genuine and has given results. His social activities are commendable (Eg., we saw a 7% increase in green cover in tamilnadu (confirmed by GOI and Google) thanks to project green hands, more work is being done by Action for rural rejuvenation and Isha vidya schools)

Regards Prasana.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought. you don't need to believe in SJV or any spiritual master. If you are a seeker just use the spiritual tools they offer and see for yourself... like you use facebook. If it does not work then you will any way know the person who offer it is genuine or fake.

Cheers !

Rajesh said...

Hello Adithiya,

Quoting your post "I feel sympathetic toward theists"... are you an Atheist ?

My apologies if in any way my question was offensive.

Rajesh said...

Please ignore my previous comment. got my answer from wikipedia.

Nice post and healthy comments. I had a lot of takes.