Shifting From Outward To Inward
Our memory gets clouded with time and all we are left with are our perceptions of what we remember. Is there a specific time or day when I felt the urge to look inward? I don’t think so. Every experience has brought me here to this moment where I’m writing this. I will try my best to recollect some thoughts which had a huge impact on me along the way.
Being born in a Hindu family, I’ve been raised to pray to God in the form of various deities. My family was neither too orthodox, nor too religious. But that was something which was done culturally, there was no questioning it. I used to follow the norm without understanding the significance or meaning of God. For the longest time, I remember trying to find out what God means to me. From my childhood till my late twenties, I did not dare to question it because I felt stupid that I failed to understand the purpose, while everyone else seemed happy just bowing down to God to pray and go about their activities.
As I started growing up and getting more exposure to the world, I observed that irrespective of the religion followed, the things said or done are very egocentric depending on how inclusive each of us is. Of course, there were exceptions. I was especially dejected when people who claimed to be religious and who prayed every day did this. It’s not like I felt they were bad people. I failed to understand the purpose of praying to God when these people are unable to live by the higher ideals. I also didn’t see religious people being more happy or peaceful than non-religious people. All the people seemed alike with their own set of desires, judgments, expectations, joys, sorrows, etc. I failed to understand the purpose of religion. Along the way, I oscillated between being an atheist and agnostic till my late thirties.
With this observation, I tried to make sense of the world always with the expectation that the world is black and white; there are good people and bad people, there are right things and wrong things. It took me quite some time to realize that the world is much more complicated than that. What may seem right to one seems wrong to another. What seems good to one seems bad to another. What seems to be a happy situation for one seems to be a sad one to another. What is true? Who decides what the truth is? Do I live up to my expectations or the world’s expectations of me? What is ideal behavior and who decides that? There was a lot of confusion in my mind. I felt it was essential for me to seek those answers to do anything purposeful or productive with my life going forward.
I knew that those answers would come only when I started looking inward. It was clear that looking outward into the world was throwing more questions than answers. This started my journey as a seeker I suppose. The intent was set within myself that I need those answers and I’m going to look for them. From that point on, I vividly remember the various people who came into my life magically to guide me, exactly when I was ready to learn and understand. I am grateful to each one of them.
After years of looking for these answers, it’s ironic that I’ve begun to find them in studying religion and spirituality as a science. I’m learning that religion is the science of life with an intelligent combination of philosophy and rituals. It leads one to the truth about self while improving the personality along the way to lead a happy, peaceful and purposeful life.
I am very grateful for being on this journey and I look forward to learning more.