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175 the Curse of Dogma

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The Curse of dogma. How do we understand dogma? How do we deal with dogma?
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  1  2 180 The curse of dogma Dear Friends, Assalamu Alaikum, Over the last few weeks I have been discussing the subject ‘ Religions ’  with a view to seeking the way to the truth. All of us believe that it is only ‘ our religion ’  shows us the way to the truth. So we find the Buddhist saying it is Buddhism that shows the way to seeking the truth and similarly the Hindu the Christian and the Muslim too would say it is Hinduism, Christianity and Islam respectively that shows us the way to seeking the truth. But then funnily, all of us not only insist that it is only  our religion that is correct, and that it is only  our religion that shows us the way to seek the truth, the only  way to salvation, the only  way to enlightenment and the only  way to success. But then, all of us also say  that the way of the other religions  would distract us or would lead us astray!!! So then which religion could be described as the way to seeking the truth? This question intrigued me. Why is it that any follower of any religion would tell us that it is only their religion that would show us the way to seek the truth, whilst all other religions would be the way or the path to  perdition? How could I find out which religion would show me the way to seeking the truth? (P) In this quest I became curious as to what a religion really was. So I compiled a list of the ingredients that go in to making a religion. It was really surprising to see how every religion differed in the details to every one of those ingredients. Over the last few weeks I was able to discuss a few of those ingredients, like the belief systems of religions and the rituals of religions. I found the task very illuminating. Last week I was about to discuss about the tools man has been blessed with and the nature of these tool s strongly indicated that man’s purpose on earth would be to seek and it made sense that man was meant to seek the truth. You may ask ‘What truth?’  Well it would be the truths or the answers to what we refer to as the fundamental questions. What are these fundamental questions? Well these are questions that every human being asks and wants to know the answers to. These questions are many, and the more prominent of them are; What is the purpose of my life on earth? Is there a God? What happens after death? Why did God place me on earth? So not only do we have this natural curiosity to find out the truth, but we are also blessed with some very powerful tools for seeking.  3 But then here is a paradox; if we are naturally possessed with this curiosity to seek the truth, and at the same time we also possess these powerful tools to seek, then why do we not know the truth? Why are we still asking those questions? Why are we still seeking the answers? Interesting isn’t it?  The fact is that from the day we are born we are told by our parents that the way to this truth is the way shown by our religion. So the Buddhist seeks the way to the truth by following Buddhism, the Hindu seeks the way to the truth by following Hinduism, the Christian seeks the way to the truth by following Christianity and the Muslim seeks the way to the truth by following Islam. Why do these 4 people follow these 4 religions or why do these 4 people follow ways that are differently labeled? The core reason would be that each one of us follows the religion or the way to seeking the truth as introduced to us or described to us by our Fathers or our parents. I am a Muslim because I am born in to a Muslim family and my parents have been instructing me, I could even say from birth, for me to seek the truth, and they have always insisted that that way is only in the way as shown by the religion Islam. So I have this great yearning to seek the truth, in fact I claim that this yearning is natural, every human being is programmed or gifted with this yearning to learn the truths of life and the truths of this world. In fact I would even say that that is the purpose of life, the objective of life  –   to seek the truths of this life and the truths of this world. So dear listeners, all of us have this great yearning this great thirst to learn the truth and on top of that we also have been naturally gifted with many powerful tools for this learning and for this seeking, and we are told by our parents that that path of seeking the truth is the path of our religion. Actually I think this is the hold our religion has on us. It should be a very comforting hold, but in fact it is actually a terrible hold. We cannot realize or understand this terribleness of this hold because we are so thirsty or eager to learn these truths, but then the modern day versions of all religions just cannot deliver. Is this not obvious to all of us? Then where are we to turn to? How are we to seek the truths? How are we to find the way to seeking the truths? Surely these are very very important? Surely these are the objectives of our life, so how are we to fulfill these objectives? Just look around, observe all the religions, and observe them from as many different viewpoints as  possible. Would you not agree that the most atrocious or the most irreligious of acts and practices are perpetrated in the name of religion? How could these be the way to the truths when so much of deceit and deception are institutionalized in to their teachings? It is easy to detect the faults or the weaknesses in the teachings of other religions but it needs courage, levelheadedness and clear thinking to detect this malady in our own religion. In our own religion as described to us by our own beloved parents. Isn’t there a huge sa dness in this realization?  4 The fact is that the srcinal teachings of all our religions have been indicating the pure path to seeking the truth. To me, that is obvious, or else how could Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad change their lives and their lifestyles and then be the focal point for thousand or even hundreds of thousands of others changing their lives and lifestyles too? And we find all these followers claiming with such certainty that they are on the course to seeking the truth. They feel it in their bones. We feel it from their words and their actions. Today I do not hear anyone claiming that he is seeking the truth and then giving me sensible answers or explanations to this truth that he has sought and discovered. Where have we gone wrong? Why is it that the modern day versions of our religions, whatever the religion, do not deliver the truth? One ingredient that is negatively impacting all religions is that factor that we refer to as ‘dogma’  All modern day religions suffer from this malady. Dogma prevents us from using our God given tools of seeking, for seeking the truths. If we do not use these tools then we are never going to realize the truths.  Now how do I describe or explain Dogma? To understand the negative impact of dogma it is necessary that I first describe (in brief) some of the tools we have been gifted for seeking, and then describe the results of using these tools, and thereafter let me try to describe this huge malady that we refer to as dogma. So first let me try to describe some of those wonderful tools that we have been gifted with for seeking. As I have described in my earlier talks, man has been gifted with the tools for seeking and this is not for ordinary casual seeking but for serious dedicated and devoted seeking, the seeking of the truths of life and of this world. We possess a brain and we also have a mind. The brain collects input or information from all our senses and then feeds the mind with this information. What does the mind do? The mind processes this information and tries to make sense or to draw out reason from what it receives. Just listen to a brief point form description of what the mind does! The mind is thought to be the seat of;    Perception,    Self consciousness,    Thought,    Belief,    Memory,    Hope,    Desire,    Will,    Judgment,    Analysis,    Evaluation,    Reason, etc.
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