I am a citizen of a self-proclaimed religious and socially free society. A society where 85% of its community rely on the differentiation of cultures and beliefs that tourism, the number one industry, brings to their homes. This very same society, advertising and proclaiming freedom, whose economic stability rely heavenly on differentiation, is religiously enslaved by a unified religious belief. Growing up as a young boy in the Bahamas, I attended Catholic elementary, middle, senior and prefatory schools. We thought that Buddha was the fat statue in Chinese Karate films. We were taught in church that Hinduism was the cause of suffering in the Middle East, God had turned his back on them for worshiping idols. Ironically, my father, a governmental official, was a member of a church whose pastor is the President of the Bahamas Christian Counsel. This counsel’s responsibilities were inclusive off revision of the educational curriculum for the entire country. Subsequently, no other religions were taught or respected in schools, not even at the college levels. My view on religion was a carbon copy of that of my neighbor’s and his. Therefore, in a class where Hindu and Buddhist religious beliefs were taught, mine were virgin ears.
Eager to taste the forbidden fruit, I anxiously awaited stories of an enlightened man who sat under an abode tree proclaiming his truth, there is nothing. I do not exist, the world as I know it does not exist, and even god lacks inherent existence.
Confusion – Karma, refers to action, a reaction to negative karmic forces can exist in the form of a negative rebirth. However, even karma lacks inherent existence. There is only one true reality, Brahman (I thought that God lacks inherent existence). Through this realization one may experience moksha (the ultimate fruit), liberation from samsara (cycle of birth and death). However Maya (illusion of the world), embedded in the breast of prakrti (material world), constantly pollutes perusha (soul). Pure perusha = autman, autman = Brahman (almost forgot Brahman lacks inherent existence).
Even more confusion – Saguna permits, Krishna represents Brahman. Krishna’s lila’s describes him as a player who fornicates with young female followers and whose message is just do it. Think not of the consequences, just do it. However, if everyone did exactly what they wanted no respect would be given to the laws of karmic forces. Once again both Brahman and Karma lacks inherent existence.
Conclusively, the single most important thing I have learnt is that regardless of your beliefs or how radical they may seem you should have the freedom to believe. For religion is personal, it is the single most identifying belief that links cultures and ancestral heritage. However, like many of our forefathers, society still persecute individuals for their beliefs (Dahlia Lama). It is the single prejudice that goes unpunished; consequently religion is one of society’s oldest caste system. Why is it so hard to understand that all men are free?