Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Pray?

A question that has been in my head ever since I can remember. As a child, brought up by orthodox & religious parents, Sunday prayers was a given. As I grew up, the questions that I had about religion have been pretty much unanswered even now. Simple things like...
  • If god created everything, then who created her?
  • If there really is a god, then why is there so much suffering all around us?
  • What about kids born in warzones? Kids born differently abled?
  • Why are 'bad' people not punished and why are 'good' people unnecessarily tortured?
  • Heaven, hell, re-birth, karma, soul, ghosts, godmen, Jesus, different religions, violence in the name of religions.....what is the truth behind all this?
 ....and many other similar doubts. Though it felt like more knowledge was actually beginning to answer a few of those questions, repeatedly I found myself more confused than enlightened. I believed that scientists and other more knowledgeable people obviously had answers to all these questions. How could old, wise and/or famous people not know about these things? Surely priests or nuns could shed some light. But as it turned out, nobody knew. If you are going to begin to ask questions about god and religion, and if you are smart & stubborn enough, you can just about keep debating on and on forever. I myself have vociferously defended both sides of the argument. 

Right now, at this point in time, I feel that answering these questions are not so important. There are billions of drivers around the world but how many of us know how a car actually works? These days grown men don't know how to even change tyres, let alone ponder on the nitty-gritty's of the the internal combustion engine. For most of us, an automobile is a means to an end. It's something that gets us from point A to point B. For some it's a passion. Many of us rely on it, many don't bother, especially in these days of eco-consciousness and heavy traffic. Isn't it possible to draw an analogy here? I think yes. A religion is a means to an end. It's something that gets us from point A to point B. For some it's a passion. Many of us rely on it, many don't bother, especially in these days of stylish, celebrity endorsed atheistic/agnostic values and growth of scientific knowledge. 

The past few days have been crazy. I am usually cool-headed and optimistic, but recent events have pushed me to the brink and I've literally been losing it on more occasions than I am proud of. Of course I have a wide plethora of justifications to back up my shitty behaviour, or I can run to a shrink or a motivational guru to seek guidance. But today it just hit me that the very underlying reason that I am getting angry is because I am expecting something. If I get cut in traffic I get pissed off because I expect the other driver to behave with some decorum & decency. If my parents advise me I get pissed off because I expect them to understand that I am now an adult and can make my own decisions. Even though my brother's got a huge dildo up his ass I expect him to be nice at least to me coz I'm his older brother. If I do something for someone, I expect them to be grateful. All these pent up expectations have obviously not been met and this has turned me in to a mad, raving misanthropist"Hell is other people" wrote Jean-Paul Sartre. On the face of it, this looks deeply misanthropic, but actually Sartre was making an observation about the tendency of human beings to lack self-knowledge. We tend to project our worst fears, and our most deeply disliked personal characteristics, onto other people, rather than look inside and face them within ourselves. Thus, when we look at other people we often see the worst of what is in our own personality. Illusory superiority or above average effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others.

Who am I really? How did I come to be? I originated from a microscopic drop of liquid that could very easily have ended up in a tissue paper or a toilet but did not. Average number of sperm per ejaculation is 200-300 million, and one, just one amongst that 300 million made me. If you consider the statistics of egg production and actual probability of getting pregnant, the odds of that particular sperm becoming me is mind-boggling. A chance of a one in a trazillion. Sounds yucky but it's true, some would call it a miracle. Everything else from there onwards is also nothing short of miraculous. A freakonomist could shower us with statistics, ranging from the odds of a conceived foetus becoming a healthy human being to the probability of a teenager surviving despite driving a motorcycle till his mid 20s. And after beating the odds so far, I am still here, I am an almost perfectly formed human being with a working brain and loving people around me. There have been no natural calamities or wars around me ever. Nobody raped or fondled me when I was a kid. I had more than plenty to eat all my life, which might have something to do with my borderline obesity ;-). So all in all, from a purely statistical point of a view, I am one hell of a lucky bastard as are most of us. And what am I doing? I am complaining that I don't have enough, getting mad at people for the lamest of reasons. Escaping to my own world when the going gets a little rough. This is why I need to pray everyday. This is why I need to be at a church or a temple or a mosque every single morning. I need to fold my hands, bow my head and show a little respect to all the crazy odds and little miracles that have made me what I am, which in one word is god. I need to remember that in the bigger scheme of things I am nothing. I am just  one amongst billions in a locker as seen in MIB. I need to lose that ego & get real. I don't have the right to be angry or miserable, ever.