We often think of faith and religion to be the one and the same thing. But is it really so? Does every religious person have faith? And is everyone who has faith in someone or something, religious? Tapan Ghosh sets out to understand these concepts and provide the answers.[/lead]
Harry: Hey Khush, I’ve been asked to write an article on religion and faith.
Khush: Religion and faith; aren’t the two the same? A strong belief in a supernatural power.
Harry: Hmm, yeah. What can I say that’s not there already?
Khush: You are the writer, Harry.
Harry: Quite so. Religion is man-made whereas faith is a spiritual concept.
Khush: I don’t have faith in religion that is codified by the beliefs of religious bodies involved in politics and power struggles.
Harry: You are not alone in this. Religion gives rise to wars and conflicts around the world.
Khush: Sure, terrorism too.
Harry: Now, what’s your take on faith?
Khush: Faith is your own belief that may be based on logical thinking and experience.
Harry: True, but blind faith is avoidable as it can lead to specious reasoning.
Khush: So now, what are you going to say? What is your religion? Do you consider yourself religious?
Harry: I’m religious but there is no code of conduct or ritual that I follow.
Khush: You have told me what you don’t do. Now, tell me what you do.
Harry: I do everything religiously and sometimes get involved in the strangest of incidents. But I don’t like to talk about them.
Khush: You are a writer, what will you write about, if you don’t reveal yourself?
Harry: Hmm, okay buddy. I will tell you what happened a few days ago. A vendor was trying to sell me a ten-rupee lottery ticket; I bought it just to please him.
Khush: Don’t tell me! Did you win?
Harry: No, silly. What will I do with the money? I have absolutely no use for it; I gave the ticket to the first urchin I saw.
Khush: Wow, so did he get lucky?
Harry: I don’t know, besides the chances are one in a million, although I could see hope on his face. I felt bad, I told him that the chances were remote and gave him a thousand-rupee note. He was thrilled. I realised that I had done something crazy. As a reflex action I made him sit in the car and drove off.
Khush: Thank you stars you saved yourself from a mob of urchins. This is so much like you.
Harry: Well, I asked him what he was going to do with the money. He said he would return it to me the day he gets the lottery money.
Khush: That was very thoughtful. You seem to attract good people. Otherwise, a guy like you cannot survive in this world.
Harry: Maybe! The guy told me how he planned to invest the thousand rupees. He wanted to earn money for his folks and now I had given him this big break. I dropped him back, hiding my tears behind dark glasses. A lottery can do a great deal for the most deserving who have been denied their due.
Khush: I see where you are coming from, Harry.
Harry: However, easy money can be a curse for most of us. It can only induce greed and make you its slave.
Khush: The insecure lot, the hoarders.
Harry: True, the wrong doers too, the power-hungry lot.
Khush: So, what’s the moral of the story?
Harry: If you happen to win a lottery or have more than you need, put it to the most rewarding use. Be very selective; give it to the most deserving. You will feel blessed on seeing the joy on their faces. This is the biggest reward you can ever get. Do this with whoever your heart leads you to, without restriction or dos and don’ts. You should be a giver, enjoy distributing love. Love with an open heart free of guilt. Follow the scripture in your heart, not the books alone. This should be your religion. You may be called a fool by some and a cheat by others. It may be difficult for you to survive this way but if you do, you will experience bliss.
Khush: Wow, that’s good. Do you have something to say about faith?
Harry: Yes, a lot. But some other day.
[highlight]Next Story: The Truth About Faith And Religion[/highlight]