Sunday, October 26, 2008

Et tu Hindu?

When I think of a religion committed to nonviolence I naturally think of Hinduism. Ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence that is at the heart of Hinduism, and which provided Gandhi with the moral high ground in his decades-long struggle with the South African and British governments. How sad, then, to have to finally admit that even this great religion has fallen to the madness of theo-fascism.

Yet it is so. I knew it was coming, but I had hoped they would avoid it. I was wrong to place any hope in religion. The headline in this morning’s THE TENNESSEAN said it all, Hindus in India tell Christians: Convert or die.

Of course the headline drips with hyperbole. There are hundreds of millions of Hindus in India and to imagine that they speak with a single voice on anything to anyone is ludicrous. But the facts remain: rioting by Hindus in the eastern state of Orissa have left 38 Christians dead and 30,000 homeless. And this is just one part of one state, and by no means the only one in which Christians must fear for their lives and livelihoods at the hands of Hindus.

But not all Hindus. Just as there were “righteous Gentiles,” Christians who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis, so there are “righteous Hindus” who are opening their homes to frightened Christians.

Analysts urge us to see the violence as political in nature. The Hindu nationalist party, Dajrang Dal, is stirring up anti-Christian sentiment to gain power and followers. But the mere fact that this works suggests that Hinduism is losing its soul. The fact that throughout history political movements have used religion to stir the people to injustice and evil does not excuse religion, but indicts it.

I have been in love with India and Hinduism (the Advaita Vendanta school specifically) since I was a teenager. The watchword of the Hinduism I loved came from the Rig Veda, perhaps the world’s oldest holy book: “Truth is one. Different people call it by different names.” This was a religion beyond tolerance, one rooted in a deep respect for the sanctity of life and the richness of human religiosity. I still admire the Vedanta school, and study with some of its swamis. But I can no longer abide by religion.

What madness to murder one another over “different names.” What insanity to excuse evil and injustice, theo-fascism and terror in the name of god.

As I write this theo-fascist Jews in Israel are terrorizing Palestinian farmers trying to hard their olive crop, while the government of Israel stands idly by; Wahhabi theo-fascists in Islam continue to degrade women, foment Jew-hatred, and deny freedom and democracy to millions; theo-fascist Christians in my own country continue to battle science, foment McCarthy-era fear and distrust, and preach hate from pulpits and political podiums around the nation.

Religion may not be the greatest evil in the world, but it is too often in league with it. We need a new spiritual movement in this country and around the world; a spiritual movement rooted in universal values of nonviolence, justice, compassion, and theological humility; a spiritual movement unfettered to nation-states, tribal loyalties, race, ethnicity, and god-sanctioned jingoism and xenophobia. We need a movement that will stand up to the god-inflamed madness that takes over the hearts and minds of millions, and hold up the idea of human dignity and the worth and sanctity of every human being. Not an interfaith movement that pretends religion is at its heart liberal and welcoming, but a spiritual movement that decries the insanity of organized religion and the evil it so often instigates and supports.

If Hindus can threaten Christians with death, the world is lost. They were my last best hope for religious sanity. They have failed. Religion has lost its last vestige of humility. It is time to abandon the madness.


Iroh said...

Convert to Starbucks-ism, or leave. Such a movement will allow self benefit or selfenlightenment temporarly.
He who finds himself, answers or even God in this religion may stay as long as he is completeley satisfied. Under the condition, that he uses reason to justify and understand his spiritual acts.

Such a movement that will allow us, the beneficiaries to enjoy as long as we wan't of the comodoties of it's establishment/franchises and agree with it's political policies, and point of view.

If she/he, the costumer, the believer, does not comply or behave adecuately. He/she the employee/spiritual guide, may have the right to allow your entrance and stay at so called Starbuscks. Hence, avoiding xenohobia as a result of misinterpretation, jingoism and religious fantasim; because of an express equivalent of "ex-comunion" of this movement, to any who wonders off int those trenches.

I would be quite happy with this.

"Welcome to Satrbucks-ism. Stay and enjoy, as long as you want"

Iroh said...

Not too much of a consistent response, but it must do, since it is quite late :S (2 in the morning!!!!)

Patti said...

Rami, you make valid and frightfully good points, which leave me with questions as to why we are drawn to religion in the first place and if we organize and kill it have we not created another religion of killers and if we kill it, what will take its place?

Rabbi Rami said...

The way religions die is this: death by apathy. No one had to defeat the gods of Greece and Rome, Greeks and Romans simply stopped believing in them.

What will it take for humans to stop believing in gods that choose, damn, condemn, and sanctify evil? It will take a revolution in human consciousness. When we no longer do evil we will no longer needs gods who excuse evil.

That of course is too much to hope for. But it isn't too much to hope for a level of spiritual awareness that at least knows that doing evil in the name of our god is still evil, and that might cause us to look for gods who speak to the best of what we capable rather than the worst.

We find inklings of this god in all religions. In my own it comes from the prophet Micah who says that all God wants is for us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

But don't make a religion out of Micah. If we do that justice, mercy, humility, and god once again fall prey to ego and its fear-filled quest for power and control.

Patti said...

What does "walking humbly with your God" mean?

AaronHerschel said...

I think it means that God is not particularly good at running, and that to try running with God, or jogging with God, would only throw his minor disability into sharp relief. So, even if you're Jessie Owens, and running is really your thing, you really shouldn't trouble God with it. You should really just, y'know, stay humble and walk, 'cause it's sort of embarrassing that an all powerful being gets winded in a hundred yard sprint, and you don't want to, like, rub it in. This, I bet, is why God asked Moses to take off his shoes at the burning bush. They were Nike's, and the whole sports sneaker thing sort of implies that Moses could run, even if he wasn't doing it just then, and again, its sort of an "in your face" to the Lord. Sandals, like Jesus wore, on the other hand, are really tricky to run in, and so they're perfectly OK. As are flip flops, and really high heels like the doomed heroines wear in horror movies.

Patti said...

So does the "running" equate to trying too hard? I have to admit sports analogies are always lost on me. Can you give me some more? Only use girly talk this time. ;0)

KTL said...

I enjoyed Aaron's analogy on running. I agree that running doesn't excite God, he spent 6 days on his creation and you want to run by it? TWA!!!