Waiting For My Pontiff

At the morning mass on February 23, 2017, at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said, ‘If you are a Christian who exploits people, lead a double life or manages ‘dirty’ business, it is better not to call yourself a believer. But to be Catholic like that, it is better to be an atheist. He further added, it is that, Scandal’.

Though he said this as a sermon to Catholic Christians, we can safely extend this to all religions. Pope’s sermon at Casa Santa Marta sends a strong message for the believers. It would have amounted to blasphemy, at least with few religions. It is hard to find leaders, especially religious leaders, to espouse the cause of ‘Dharma’. Pope’s call for ‘true Dharma’ if not astounding, is truly impressive.

Amidst the deafening hustle and bustle of daily living, the deafening noise from politics, blind insensitivity from crass materialism,  spiritual priorities take significantly lesser precedence and almost completely get lost with the pace of life and competing priorities. Worst, when religious tools fall in the hands of petulant politicians or power brokers, or business, by subterfuge it takes a completely malignant form and reduces religion to disdain.

Amongst those practicing with some semblance of regularity, it gets reduced to artifacts like offering prayer, lighting candles, and reciting sermons/verses from revered texts or groping for identity, insisting on how our religious practices are superior to others. We hardly realize how deeply we are immersed with ourselves. An important aspect of religion is finally rising beyond us, as individuals or community and looking beyond and acting, with a humane perspective.

Embedded Values Inbuilt in our Moral Fabric

While most believe, moral fabric is evolutionary, I feel it is embedded within our survival and existing and defines our resilience. Those values are so deeply embedded within our moral fabric, that we yearn and ultimately derive the true meaning with solitude and reconciliation. In this crowded world with fast pace of life, we hardly get space to reconcile with our inner self with those deeply embedded  values  and religious tenets espoused by our religion – Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc. All religions, irrespective of the practices, offer a foundation and guiding principle for mankind to deal with the complexities of our evolution vis a vis our struggle to comprehend the existing of our living.

No Need for Proselytization or Tribal Conversion

While working as a fellow in Molecular Oncology at UT Southwestern, as a family, developed a deep bond with one of the senior colleague. Our bond was enduring and the retired professor often insisted, we should convert to her religion. My answer was simple – ‘even if I adopt your parents, my parents won’t cease to be my parents’. Proselytization is common to almost all faith. Some under the guise of emancipation, others are help and the worst, forceful conversion under threat, fear or losing modesty/esteem or social position. It is an ultimate reflection of lacking faith and trust the strength of religion. To the bigots, it is an offering to their Almighty. Will that truly help?

The struggle is searching for the real value within us and practicing those in our day to day life, changing garments won’t help, and definitely not the artifacts of practice. Especially, in today’s world, it has become immensely relevant to find the true meaning of religion within our own practice. And when we evolve as true believer, that glow will shine through our virtues and day to day practice. Possibly, those trying to impose the existing of their own religion may find this as a better practice.

A significant departure from the past

Pope’s sermon at Casa Santa Marta sends a strong message from a revered leadership. It would have amounted to blasphemy, at least with few religions! I doubt any spiritual leaders from my religion or others from Muslims, Jains, Buddhist, Jews or Sikhs would dare to say that. It is hard to find leaders, especially religious leaders, to espouse the cause of ‘Dharma’*. The pope’s call for ‘true Dharma’ is astounding and impressive. This is a very rare, and an important message for all believers, irrespective of the religion we follow. I have a lot to learn from Pope Francis, while I am awaiting my own Pontiff! May be that awakening will happen within.

(*Dharma, here refers to the ethos of religion and not to Hinduism).

Cited:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2017/02/pope-francis-better-atheist-hypocritical-catholic/pope-francis

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/23/world/pope-atheists-again/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/23/pope-francis-praises-the-torah-and-suggests-its-better-to-be-an-atheist-than-a-bad-catholic/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130328-pope-francis-vatican-casa-santa-marta-apartment-rome-catholic/

 

 

All Parents (Especially mothers)

This is little long (pardon me for that), despite, I thought of sharing this.

Like many amongst us, our son is our only child and like all Indian parents do, our focus and efforts are all directed towards him. Except our professional choices (smiles), he has always been part of all aspects including decision making. I am sure, you all have similar lifestyle.

After returning home, we miss him in every corner and aspect. For this week, I was WFH for the remaining week and despite being a father, I should admit, I became recluse and was unable to focus. The sense of solitude was numbing me internally. However, I explained myself (and shared it earlier) that it is no different than his absence while he was on vacation or when I am working Mon – Thursday (from client site).

All mothers on this group, you certainly remember how you all felt when got married and left your parents. I believe, you all might have had almost similar feelings.

I recollected my days when I left my parents’ home at the same age for graduation. I had that sense of little anxiety but the feeling of independent and the professional opportunities were overwhelmingly exciting. I had a whole future ahead of me and many things to do so. I never realized I would be leaving my parents or be a guest at my home forever. I would never understand why my mother’s eyes were wet or father voice quavering. I always thought, I brought them the academic laurels and they must be happy about it. I never separated myself from my parents, brother or home. They were a constant part of my life, never separable. Parents, however, knew the truth that once I leave, I would hardly return home. I never realized their loneliness. I believe, all our kids are in the same phase.

Conversely, those parents whose kids did not qualify for best schools, are they truly happy? Kids have an exciting future ahead of them. Keeping them under our care after a certain stage may stunt their growth and actually, hinders their progress. We all have a reason to be proud that our kids had a vision and dared to take the efforts and the leap. Now, it is their turn.

These thoughts are very well reflected in “Siddharth” by Hess. It tells what “parental roon” i.e. paternal loan is.

I am also sharing a story, you all will like. ‘Struggle is a friend’

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.

But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Get off your cocoon and start to fly!!

Life is a full circle. And fulfillment of life lies in the completion of the circle.