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What Is Needed Today Is A Sincere Attempt At Inner Transformation

What is needed today is a sincere attempt at inner transformation. Three natures are intertwined in human personality: animal, human and divine. Religion should help us transcend our animal nature, become humans, transcend that too and become divine. ‘Religion is the idea which is raising the brute unto man, and man unto God.’  (Swami Vivekananda)

Anything that whips up the animal in us, anything that makes us get at others’ throats, could be anything but religion. The secondary details like temples, rituals, dogmas and creeds have such a strong hold on such people that they lose sight of real religion. It is like fighting over the basket and the fruits have fallen into the ditch.

If not properly understood, religion can degenerate into mere observance of externals, the non-essentials.

Religion consists in realization.…and such an experience is possible for every one of us, if we will only try. (Swami Vivekananda).

In other words, in the absence of conscious efforts to change oneself, purify one’s mind, transform one’s character, the secondary details will only make a mockery of religion.

One is reminded of Sri Ramakrishna’s allusion to a bath in the Ganges purifying one of all sins. The sins are perched on the branch of a tree on the bank, only to descend on the individual as soon as he is up after his bath. Says Sri Ramakrishna, ‘Suppose a man becomes pure by chanting the holy name of God, but immediately afterwards commits many sins. He has no strength of mind.’ What is required is a real desire to turn a new leaf.

If we want to be truly religious, we cannot have a better yardstick than strength. Anything that weakens us — be they superstitions or a politics-driven herd mentality manifesting our animal nature — has no place in religion.

Manifestation of our potential divinity constitutes the essence of religion. Irrespective of our religious affiliation, there are four paths to make this possible: selfless work, devotion, mind control, and reflection, discrimination and meditation.

SourceExcerpts from Prabuddha Bharata editorial June 2002.