Abhijit Naskar

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What is Right Religion?

Today we are going to talk about perhaps the most significant element of human existence – the most significant part of human life – that is religion. You know about religion – you have heard about religion – perhaps you have been taught by your traditions to be religious in a certain manner through various rituals and various methods – yet all those rituals and methods vary throughout the world – they are not exactly universal – yet they talk about something universal – they talk about something ultimate – they talk about reaching an ultimate truth. All of the so-called advocates of religion talk about different religions being different paths to the same truth. I’m afraid they are not exactly right on this – they are partially right. I wonder whether they have any idea of what religion really is!

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Now before we continue I need to ask you something – I need to ask you to at least try to turn all those predominant ideas, notions and perceptions about religion off, because none of my statements is going to make sense if you try to find meaning in them by using your own predominant perceptions, notions, ideas, thoughts and opinions about religion. Traditions throughout the world have distorted religion – they have dismantled the very fundamental basis of religion – they have distorted it to such an extent that today’s humans deem rituals, orthodoxy, dogmas, doctrines, set of ideals, beliefs, imaginations, illusions, prejudices and stereotypes to be synonymous with religion. As a result the whole world is being burnt in the fire of religious violence. Perhaps most of the terrible violence on planet earth are actually occurring in the name of religion – it’s not my opinion – you know it as well as I do.

Now one wonders why? Let’s go deeper into this why. It is because, apparently devout religious people think by standing true to their own dogmas, traditions, orthodoxy, beliefs, ideals and set of doctrines, they are actually walking on the path of right religion. But that’s not right religion – that’s precisely the wrong religion – be it Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or anything else. Any religion that has to do with dogmas and doctrines, and does not evolve with time is only the most immature form of religion – it’s only the most barbarian form of religion. Now I’m not specifying any religion. I’m not going to say Christianity is barbarian – Islam is barbarian – Hinduism is barbarian. You can look at it yourself – we don’t need to conclude anything – we don’t need to belittle one religion and glorify another. All religions one way or another have committed great evils because they wanted to stand true to their doctrines – because they held their doctrines and dogmas to be more significant, valuable and holier than life itself. This has caused immense bloodshed.

So, now we must inquire – what is religion? The term religion means to unite – it refers to something that unites all of us. Now let’s look at it – don’t conclude – don’t be hasty please! I urge to you – don’t be hasty – let’s think over it – what is it that makes us unite! Is it our dogmas! No – because various regions of the world have their own unique dogmas – they have their own doctrines – they have their own scriptures – and because all of those scriptures came from humans, (yes they came from humans – no God gave them to humans – humans created the scriptures) all those scriptures have both good and bad elements just like their creators the humans do – we all have good and bad elements in us.

So books, scriptures, dogmas and doctrines cannot – just cannot – unify humanity. They can unify the humans of a certain region, which was probably the feasible and productive thing to do in the ancient times when humanity was not a global species, but now we have advanced a lot – we have come a long way since our ancient times. When we were barbarians, we needed to stay in groups, but that’s called “tribalism” which proved effective in the jungle – in the desert, but now is it necessary? Since, this tribalism is no longer necessary, why should we just give it a pompous name such as “religion” or “nationalism” and glorify it – and be proud of something like that – which is basically an over-glorified tribalism!

So what makes us unite – the whole humanity – not just a group of people thinking that they’re modern yet in their mind they’re so barbarian and foolish that they want to stay cooped up in their tiny little tribes! Humanism makes us unite – humanism as in the quality of being human – the fusion of all human elements – goodness, kindness, empathy, sympathy, love, compassion, strength of the mind and all these vivacious fundamental elements of civilized humanity – these are the elements that unify us – these are the elements that unite all humanity and these are the elements that can – that do – and that will – construct the foundation of right religion. That religion has no label – it’s not a Christian religion – it’s not a Jewish religion – it’s not a Muslim religion – it’s not a Hindu religion – it’s just the religion of humanity – “humanity” which is defined and unified by one quality, that is being human. And being human is the right religion – it doesn’t need any name – it doesn’t need any label – it doesn’t need any over-glorified title of an uncivilized barbarian tribalism. Being human is what makes us a civilized species and being human is our religion – the religion of whole humanity.

 

Recommended Reading

Illusion of Religion: A Treatise on Religious Fundamentalism, 2017

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The Distorted Humanism

You know what humanity is best at! It is best at distorting stuff – distorting thoughts, ideas, and more specifically words. Among these distorted words lie terms like religion, philosophy, science, faith, and others. But the one term that we are interested in, in this piece, is the term “humanism”. Humanism is next in the line of distorted words, right after the word “religion”. To be very articulate in brief – the terms “humanism” and “religion” are essentially one and the same thing, yet a whole so-called human lifetime is not enough for most humans to actually fathom this simple mortal revelation. Most humans neurotically perceive religion to be the system of following doctrines and humanism to be a pompous philosophy of the intellectuals.

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In reality, religion is not a system of following doctrines at all. If anything, it is about not following any doctrine and finding out things for yourself. And, humanism is no more a philosophy than love is. Love is not a philosophy, neither is humanism. In fact, if we go underneath the layers of words and labels, we would see that love is essentially plain, ordinary, everyday humanism – it is as simple as that – there is nothing more for me to tell you about humanism. I don’t really intend to tell you anything about humanism in this piece. Rather, let’s find out together, what humanism is not.

For starters, it’s not a pompous philosophy or an ideology for a bunch of people to discuss over a cup of coffee. As I have said in “Principia Humanitas”:

“Humanism is not a pompous philosophy to be talked and debated about by a handful of intellectuals – it is the purest form of moral compass, which defines the civilized heart of thinking humanity.”

Humanism simply means to be human. Now you may wonder, what does “to be human” even mean! Does it mean you need to wear a specific sophisticated label that makes you appear as a smart and over-glorified intellectual! Does it mean, you need to talk sense all the time! Does it mean, you stop believing in anything that does not fit your ship-shape limited logical perception! Does it mean, that you have to be the smartest person in the group and make more sense somehow than all others around you! Does it mean, you have to be a so-called non-believer or atheist, and have to defend that atheism, at all costs, like the religious fundamentalists do with their own beliefs and delusions, above all humane fundamentals!

Let me go straight ahead and say it – No. You don’t need to do any of it – as in, none of it – you don’t even have to call yourself a so-called humanist – because most of the so-called humanists are not actually advocating actual qualities of being human, rather they are advocating radical rationalism – radical logicality. One recent incident comes to my mind in this context – it is their support for corporations that forbid their muslim employees to wear a hijab at work-place. Full-body burqa with niqab that covers the whole face of a woman, may surely be a sign of uncivilized cultural barbarianism, because it basically exudes a clear implication of segregation against all humans, but not a simple hijab, which is basically a scarf that one wears around the head. So, advocacy of banning basic cultural elements, is not a sign of progress or being human. This kind of radical attitude may not look as immediately dangerous as radical fundamentalism does, but, it is nevertheless, as harmful as that. In fact, radical rationalism is nothing but atheistic fundamentalism or logical fundamentalism. As I have said in “Principia Humanitas”:

“Fundamentalism of any kind, be it religious, atheistic, political or educational, is the greatest threat to human excellence – it is a threat to progress – it is a threat to greatness.”

The whole business of fundamentalism, which is basically an extreme sense of either romanticism or logicality, is unavoidably destructive and needs a bit of scolding from the real humans – by real humans I don’t mean intellectually superior humans, for intellect has very little to do with this real human thing – it has to do with acceptance of weakness and rejection of hatred and extremism. This extremism as we see more and more today, does not always rise from the obvious so-called religious sides. It can rise from any side – and it will keep on rising, as long as sides appear to be more important to humans, than human life itself.

We have this remarkable thing called “life”, yet somehow, quite disgracefully, it has become less glorious and significant, in front of the fake glory of labels and ideologies. This is what advancement without conscience does to a species. We have advanced externally, before we actually truly evolved internally. Biological evolution is a fact, and that very biological evolution led to our so-called psychological evolution – I am saying so-called not because it is false. We have evolved psychologically indeed and through this evolution we have gained extraordinary psychological capacities, that basically are not possessed by any other species on earth, yet those capacities are not utilized at their fullest and most productive potential. It’s like having money and yet wasting it on unhealthy non-sense like alcohol and expensive cigars, while your neighbor is starving in front of your eyes.

Correct application of the mental faculties cannot be taught to a whole species – it automatically starts when the species gets an actual grip over its true necessities. Earth is necessity, not Mars. Food and water are necessities, not alcohol and cigarettes. To be human is necessity, not being a believer or non-believer. Now comes the real question – what are you?

Recommended Reading
Principia Humanitas, 2017

 

For Speaking Engagement Inquiry or Interview Request, email at naskarism@gmail.com

Meditation beyond Traditions – An Interview

Psychotherapist Serge Prengel interviews Abhijit Naskar on Meditation and Mindfulness.

This conversation is available as a video, as well as audio only here www.activepause.com/naskar and a printable PDF transcript.

 

Dr Diane Hamilton Interviews Abhijit Naskar

Dr Diane Hamilton, MBA Program Chair at Forbes Business School, Interviews Abhijit Naskar on Neuroscience, Religion and Social Issues.

Put God first, but don’t boast it

Belief in God – that is what we will naively discuss in this piece. And the focus is of course on being naive, because it is the first criterion to understand a phenomenon truly with its real fundamentals. One cannot understand something, if one is already filled with predominant conditioned beliefs, opinions and ideas. So, let’s look at the belief in an Almighty Concerned Entity or Force, with literally, not theoretically, naive eyes. If you have read my works, you’d know that one statement is pretty prevalent in most of them. It is “belief is a self-preservation mechanism of the mind.” Here, the belief I mentioned is not necessarily of religious type. The belief in this statement refers to all sorts of belief, not just religious. However, in this piece, we are interested specifically, in the belief in a supernatural entity.

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But why? Why am I talking about it exactly now? Because, I was scrolling through my youtube feed, and came across a video of some actor, shouting out “put God first”. The very first casual response that mind spat out was – even the stupidest and barbarian opinions of celebrities can appear to the masses as greatly inspirational and glorious statements – what a shame! As I said, this was the first response that my mind produced upon watching the thumbnail. So, now, let’s get over this casual response and dissect the situation – to be specific, the statement – “put God first”. It basically says, never lose faith in God, and you’ll achieve everything. I won’t say whether it is civilized or not. But I would say this. Belief in a supernatural entity having control of and concern for, your life, is basically, not a sign of glory, rather a sign of weakness.

Weakness is a fact – not bad or good. Like it or not, we all feel weak at times – I accept, that I do. And specifically in these times of excruciating agony, the mind kicks into a defense mode – where it naturally tends to put its faith and control upon a higher illusory entity. It’s not good – it’s not bad – it is what it is. And we cannot change this situation, just yet, because though we have developed extraordinary brain capacities, inside, we still remain cave-people, with a highly sensitive amygdala, that reacts quite effectively to every single fear and stress stimulus. And to quote from my book The Krishna Cancer“Mother Nature created God as a neurological anti-depressant sentiment.”

Belief in an imaginary entity or force, is a sign of weakness. And, weakness is a part of biological existence. So, glorifying that weakness, does not make a person any more religious, spiritual or wise, than beating one’s wife does for not sleeping with him. Yes, we have developed through the process of natural selection, the capacity for limitless good and glory, but that does not mean, our innate brutal nature has vanished from our psyche for good. We have the capacity for courage and conscience, but you must remember, we also bear the seeds of weakness and brutality within us. These seeds served us well for millions of years. They have been the most crucial elements in our survival in the wild. Let me give you an example.

Imagine a man is sitting with his wife on the couch, while watching TV. Suddenly, a woman on TV starts stripping. What kind of changes do you think, would take place in the man’s pants! Now here is the real question, the man gets erect by watching the stripping lady on TV, say it’s my good friend and popular pornstar Olivia Austin – does this mean, he actually wants to do her? Does this mean, he does not love his wife? These questions are all non-sense. Of course he loves his wife. And consciously, he does not desire to mate with Olivia, but his subconscious mind does – and that’s not a theory, but a fact. Because that’s how the man’s brain has been surviving in the wild. His penis had to be prepare within seconds, the moment he had an opportunity to spread his genes – there was no consent involved. Because the competition was high. And that libidinal programming still remains active within the man’s neurobiology. That’s why erection upon the sight of a hot lady, is quite normal and in fact, healthy, but that does not necessarily mean, it is a sign of intentional desire for intercourse with that lady. A man may be married happily, and still his penis would get erect, the moment his mind visualizes a glimmer of opportunity for spreading his genes. Similar is the process of belief in an imaginary entity, named God.

The mind has various mechanisms to maintain its internal order and well being. And belief in something higher than the petty little human existence, is one of those self-preservation mechanisms. A person may be the most rational being on earth when everything is almost fine in his or her life. But the moment, clouds of excruciating agonies begin to cover the sky of his or her psyche, all rationality will go out of the window, and what will remain, is pure, savage, survival instinct. During these moments of utter disaster, a healthy human mind is more likely to give in to supernaturalism, than to bring out a notebook and do logical analysis. Eventually when those clouds start to disperse, the mind would slowly gain its natural rational capacities. Then he or she would again start talking most boastfully about reasoning and free thinking. This is not hypocrisy – this is human life – or to be more accurate, this is biological life.

Another such mechanism comes to my mind in this context. This mechanism kicks in when somebody faces a life-threatening trauma, and gives rise to the mesmerizing experience of afterlife, in which apparently the trauma-struck individual has an encounter with supernatural entities, prophets, or diseased relatives. And this experience manifests as more real than actual reality. The purpose of it is to put your mind in a preconceived domain of comfort, while your body is under tremendous stress. And before when medical science was not developed, people died with this last conscious experience of entering into a higher dimension. We did not have the means to save a dying person. Now we do. So, even though they go close to the doorstep of death and start experiencing the conscious hallucinatory domain of afterlife, we are capable of bringing the person back to life. And when they finally wake up, they can excite all others around them with their supposed experience of the afterlife, unlike our ancestors who did not have the means to come back from the doorstep of death.

The mind is who you are. You are your mind. And as such, you are not even aware of most of its features – because you are not supposed to, biologically speaking. Underneath the surface of conscious awareness, lies a whole territory of subconscious traits and processes. Some of these processes become active on a daily basis, others, when truly necessary. But they are there, nevertheless. They are there for a reason – the reason of survival – the reason of maintaining well being when every other modern means fails. They don’t follow modern norms of rationality. They only follow Mother Nature’s law of survival. And they are definitely not glorious in nature, rather, they are simply the mind’s way of preserving itself. It is not something to be proud of, or critical of. It just is, what it is – an unavoidable part of human mental existence.

 

(Simultaneously published on Goodreads)

Recommended Reading

Autobiography of God: Biopsy of A Cognitive Reality, 2016

The Tribal Myth of Reincarnation – New Talk

“Once you die, that’s it – game over. Death is the ultimate cessation of the individual Self.” – Principia Humanitas

In this talk, Abhijit Naskar discusses the primitive origin of the idea of reincarnation out of the lack of comprehension of death.

 

Further Reading
Autobiography of God: Biopsy of A Cognitive Reality, 2016

Meditation is a method-less act

I want you to do something today. I want you to get rid of all the things that you have heard about meditation so far – everything – all those things about focus, attention, sitting upright, closing your eyes, focusing on breathing, sound, this and that – everything – even the things that you have heard from me. Let’s try it shall we! Let’s start afresh. Let’s take a fresh look at meditation. What is Meditation? Forget everything you know about meditation and simply think. Meditation simply means – thinking over – to think over something – to put your whole attention on something without pressure – anything. That is the simplest explanation for meditation. Meditation is simply thinking over.

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Today meditation has become a kind of hectic practice where you sit upright and do a lot of breathing exercises, this and that – and they call it Raja Yoga, Vipassana or something else. They need to call it that way, because this way they can keep it mystical. And the more they can keep it mystical, the more they can gain from it. Simplifying it doesn’t make the whole business of yoga, meditation and all that, profitable, does it!

So let’s simplify it, shall we! Meditation has been proposed as a means to psychological well being – and that means usually comes along with specific methodologies. The Buddhists have their Vipassana technique – the Hindus have their Kundalini nonsense. I am calling it nonsense because of all the mysticism it brings along. The mystical advocates of all that kundalini stuff, truly believe that there are actual energy centers throughout the human spine, and by unlocking them one could attain glorious spiritual potential. The Hindus also call this method of unlocking the kundalini centers of chakras, Raja Yoga, as if its something supreme, and not an ordinary mental state to be attained by an ordinary human. So, when the very practice of Raja Yoga proposes the notion, that it is something not ordinary, and basically unattainable without a teacher – that it is something higher than normal human practice, you naturally feel like you are supposed to go to an expert. This makes it profitable. Hence rises countless spiritual institutions upon the edifice of the primitive elements of human mysticism.

Now let’s throw all that mysticism away and look without judgement and preconceived mystical illusions of intellect. Meditation simply means focusing on something, thinking over something. Now the question is, do we need to sit upright and practise meditation the conventional way – closing our eyes, focusing on breathing or chanting or say Aum and going through a million other rituals! Is it necessary? Well, if it suits your taste then of course it’s okay – nobody is condemning it. It will bring you obvious health benefits, surely. But it’s only the way of the novice, also the most robotic way. Meditation means thinking over. But think over what? Do you have something to think over – something that you’d just think over, simply to take the pleasure from it – to simply be yourself in it – anything – a practice, a habit, a hobby, an idea, anything – something you can think over without any pressure of technicality, ritual or norms – that you can pay your whole attention to, simply because you love it, not because some great so-called guru tells you to practise it or some great scientist tells you to practise it! Do you have something like that – do you – anything – painting, writing, going out for a walk of contemplation, filmmaking, photography – any human activity that you can engage yourself in, without all the pressure that comes along with the very term “method”!

When you love doing something, there is no method, there is no risk, there is no fear, there is no insecurity of failure, there is just doing it. You just love it and do it. Often we also use the term “passion”, but I think, the word “passion” is a petty human attempt to justify the activity in front of the society. Why do you need to justify it! You simply love it and you do it. When you love it and do it, you are basically meditating upon it. And when the humans have something they love to do, and they do it, which means meditate upon it, they give a certain amount of time from their daily schedule to that activity, not out of pressure, not out of the insecurity of psychological obscurity, not out of a revolting attitude against the social norms, but simply to be themselves in that activity. When you do that on a daily basis, or find time to do that every now and then, every week, you are basically engaging your brain almost in the same manner as anybody else does in practising the conventional way of meditation – sitting upright, closing their eyes and focusing within. The brain functionings in both cases are basically similar – and they bring the same kind of inner emotional stability, same kind of inner content more importantly – basically the same kind of internal well being, which is sustained in the long run, if you can simply do what you love to do on a regular basis. This way your brain goes through a kind of unique refreshment – that basically is the product of meditation – the simplest meditation – meditation upon the activity that allows you to be you.

Meditation is a method-less act – an act of contemplation – an act of being. And this contemplation or this being is not a buddhist thing, a hindu thing or a jewish thing – it is simply a human thing. No pranayama, vipassana or kabala has any kind of exclusive authority over meditation whatsoever. All these ways are merely the means of the novice to begin the journey. But the means is not the real act itself. Seeing the method of meditation as meditation itself, is like confusing the menu for the meal. The real journey takes place when there is no means whatsoever – when the self does not need to make efforts to be the self – that’s real meditation – the meditation where you simply are who you are and do not seek methods to attain a superficial state of mind.

If you find something you love and make that your profession, then you’ll never need to practise the conventional meditation in your life, in order to be psychologically well, because your very profession would be the best meditation for you. If you don’t exactly have that dream profession, then simply taking time out from your daily schedule to do what you love to do, would still be a better meditation for you than the conventional one. And if none of these is an option for you, then you can resort to the conventional form of methodical meditation. The final call on this matter, would be made by nobody else but you. But bear in mind, kids meditate on things, the adults meditate on the self. Meditation on the self is the highest form of true method-less meditation, for it brings self-awareness – which is beyond the everyday joy and sorrow. True meditation does not put you in control of your sorrow, rather it takes your mind beyond that very sorrow, as well as joy, into the kingdom of contentment – a kingdom without ideology – without cognitive extremes, such as radical rationalism, radical romanticism or radical emotionalism. In that kingdom, you simply are a human, with no name, no nationality, no tradition, no culture, no religion, no gender and no social image – simply a human.

(Simultaneously published on Goodreads.)

Further Reading

Abhijit Naskar, In Search of Divinity: Journey to The Kingdom of Conscience, 2017