This is the third part of Dr. Prabhakar Kamath’s latest series on Managing Life Without God and Religion In The Twenty First Century. Links to all published parts in this series can be found here.
It is obvious that not only does the Old Belief System (religion) have nothing useful to offer modern India’s young men and women struggling with their daily hassles, but also it hampers their ability to think, feel, speak and act independently as individuals. Religion promotes irrational fear of authority (“I don’t want to be blamed or shamed”), helplessness (“I feel helpless to do anything about the bad situation in this country”), passivity (“I can’t and won’t do anything”), and dependence on others (“I will ask a local god, Swami, politician or Mafia to help me solve my problem”). Religious leaders and priests on one hand and politicians and bureaucrats on the other have promoted and exploited these deplorable characteristics of naive masses to the fullest extent to enrich themselves. Rationalists and secular humanists that reject the Old Belief System as obsolete for managing life in the twenty-first century are obligated to offer India’s young men and women a simple alternative belief system, which is more relevant to life in twenty-first century. I am offering the following New Belief System to young men and women of India as an alternative to the current belief system. Of course, we can modify this system following a vigorous and meaningful debate.
1. New Faith
I have faith only in my own Will.
One could adopt variations of this statement such as, “I believe only in myself,” or “I have faith in my own abilities,” or, “I know I can take good care of myself without a god or religion in my life.” This belief should replace the old belief in the ancient supernatural higher powers such as the Gunas of Prakriti and Law of Karma (BG: 3:5, 27, 33; 18:59-60), Vedic gods, Brahman, Atman, Paramatma, Parama Purusha, Purushotthama, Ishwara, and Parameshwara mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita; and scores of less ancient gods and goddesses invented by Brahmanism to delude people -Rama, Krishna, Ganesha, Hanuman, Laxmi, Saraswati, Durga, Kali- and hundreds of smaller deities and demigods; and also the belief in the earthly higher powers such as Swamis, Gurus, Pandas, Priests, Ministers, Politicians, Bureaucrats, the Police, the Mafia, and all other crooks and con artists in flesh and blood.
Having faith only in your own Will does not mean you do not believe in the essential goodness of other people or their abilities; nor does it mean that you are arrogant. It simply means that all your actions are anchored in the belief that you have the power and will to fulfill your desires and protect yourself from evils that might befall you. If Brahmanic loyalists brand you as one deluded by Ahamkara (egoism) for not believing in higher powers, quote Swami Vivekananda whom they worship as one of their greatest champions:
“If you have faith in all three hundred thirty millions of your mythological gods, and in all the gods, which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourself, there is no salvation for you.”
That should silence them. If not, you can tell them in jest, “Aham Brahmasmi!” (I am Brahman!). Or, “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are Brahman). You can add, “Since I am god, I don’t need to have faith in any other god. That is why I have faith in my own Will.” Case closed.
2. New Mode Of Action
I am quite capable of fulfilling my own desires and protecting myself from all evils of life by means of my rational, ethical and result-oriented actions.
What you are saying here is that you will not indulge in irrational, unethical and fruitless actions to fulfill your legitimate desires, and to cope with life’s vicissitudes. You are breaking off the shackles of Old Belief System, which says, “You are merely a helpless puppet in the hands of all these higher powers! You can’t do a damn thing without their help! Not a blade of grass moves without god’s wish!” and firmly asserting, “Yes, I can! I am not a helpless puppet dangling from strings pulled by anyone’s invisible hands. Not only can I move the blades of grass but also I can mow down a whole lawn with a mower.” If Brahmanic loyalists attack you for rejecting their mindless ritual-worship of gods and doing the right thing, quote them Swami Vivekananda again:
“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”
To those Brahmanic loyalists who regularly consult astrologers before doing anything, quote Swami Vivekananda again:
“Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest.”
3. New Dharma
The Constitution of India on which is based the Rule of Law is my New Dharma.
The word Dharma is derived from the ancient root word Dhar, meaning that which holds. The ancients conceived Brahmanic Dharma as the Constitution, which held the society together and regulated behavior of diverse groups of people of the land. Just like the Constitution of India today, it was all about Law and Order. They controlled the masses by developing their doctrines of the Gunas and Karma. Over 2500 years, however, due to the abuse of their doctrines Brahmanism steadily degenerated into an elaborate moneymaking sham, not much different from the Government of India today. Their degradation resulted in disastrous consequences to India. We read in my articles on the Gita how during the medieval times temples in places such as Somanath and Mathura amassed enormous wealth, which attracted Islamic invaders from Northwest. This led to a thousand years of foreign rule, and devastation, decimation and destitution of India. Brahmanism is yet to accept responsibility for this greatest tragedy of India ever.
The Constitution of India, our New Dharma, is designed to guarantee people of all classes, colors, creeds and genders equality, justice, freedom and opportunity to pursue happiness under the Rule of Law. This Dharma is perfectly appropriate for the modern times. If there is so much of chaos and lawlessness in India today, it is because not enough people are uniting to strengthen India’s Constitution, and not because of any inherent weakness in it. Why should you pledge your allegiance to the Constitution of India? Well, keep in mind that significant numbers of your life-problems are caused by government officials who have little respect for your rights under the law. Only by constantly protecting, promoting and practicing the Constitution could you protect your inalienable rights. This is consistent with the ancient wisdom, “Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshatah,” meaning, “The Constitution protects him who protects the Constitution.” Only the Constitution has the authority to make the powerful wrongdoer to tremble before the weak victim.
Pledging allegiance to the New Dharma means all your actions must be within the framework of the Constitution, and you will not indulge in unlawful behavior even if the Old Dharma condones or encourages it. If your personal value system conflicts with a particular Law, you will set it aside and obey the Law. If you choose to disobey the Law on a matter of principle, you should have the integrity to court arrest and cheerfully suffer the consequences for violating it, as Gandhi did. All personal principles and convictions come with a huge price tag. Furthermore, you should insist on the Rule of Law with all the people you deal with in your effort to solve your personal problems in life. An example of this is you will refuse to pay a bribe to an official who demands it to perform his duty for which he has already been paid taxpayer’s money. Anyone refusing to insist on the Rule of Law has no right to call himself a citizen of India. And the person demanding a bribe is a traitor.
Almost all problems Indians face in their public life today are related to the powers that be breaking the law by omission or commission. Sixty years after the New Dharma was established in India, the allegiance of the majority of people in India is not to it but to the Old Dharma. And almost all problems in India today -corruption, inefficiency, filth in the streets, water shortage, electricity supply problems, adulteration, police atrocity, bad roads, scams, poverty- could be traced to this single factor. On one hand there are Brahmanic loyalists such as Shiv Sena and RSS who have nothing but utter contempt for the Rule of Law. Therefore, they follow the dictates of the Old Dharma. If they don’t like the news, they would burn or destroy the television station with impunity. If someone said something against them they would beat him up. They would never be arrested because the allegiance of the police, the prosecutor, the judge and even the chief minister is to the Old Dharma and not to the Constitution of India. Not one of Shiv Sena or RSS goon has ever gone to prison for flagrantly destroying property or beating up people. Their heroes are RSS terrorists such as Pramod (Rent-A-Riot) Muthalik who is still walking the streets, thanks to B. S. Yeddyurappa, his Brahmanic Godfather. This Brahmanic idiot decided to be the police, prosecutor, judge, jury and the executor -for a fee. In other words, he was merely being a Paranthapa (scorcher of foes) as per the Old Dharma when he was offering to kill people of other Dharmas on the imaginary battlefield of religions. The BJP party’s honchos, whose primary allegiance is to the Old Dharma, defended the corrupt-to-the core BJP chief minister of Karnataka, who never fails to put on a huge Nama over his forehead to display his allegiance to Brahmanism, by saying, “He did not break the law even though his actions were immoral!” In other words, he was merely being a Dhananjaya (conqueror of wealth) following the dictates of amoral Old Dharma when he was amassing wealth by immoral means, and therefore he is perfectly fit to be chief minister! It did not matter to them that he abused his power and betrayed the people as the chief minister. Such is the depravity of Brahmanic thinking.
On the other hand, secular as well as religious people running the Government of India, who have sworn to defend the Constitution of India, consider it as a mere nuisance or joke, and their jobs as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to steal as much money from people as possible. All these people extort bribes from people because everyone from the very top to the very bottom does it. None of the crooks ever arrested by the “Vigilance Department” for extorting money from innocent people ever went to prison.
If the young men and women do not protect the Constitution of India today, they are frittering away their freedom, which their fathers won by making great sacrifices. Your Mantra in the defense of your New Dharma should be:
I shall protect, promote and defend the Constitution of India by constantly exercising my rights and responsibilities as a citizen of India. Only by doing so can I ensure everyone’s right to enjoy prosperity and peace of mind.
4. New Value System
All my actions will be based on a set of well-defined ethical principles.
It is not the business of any Constitution to dictate ethics to people. Therefore, you will need a set of internalized personal ethics to guide you in your efforts to fulfill your desires and manage your own life in the society you love and live in. Your New Value System based on rational thinking, personal ethics, secular humanism, and doing what is right according to your conscience, will inevitably be pitted against Old Value System of your parents or society based on irrational beliefs, Amoralism, religious fanaticism, and doing what their Old Dharma thinks is right. It is the total lack of ethics in significant number of leaders in many sections of Indian society today -political, bureaucratic, business, religious, judicial, army, and the police- that has led to gigantic scams in India resulting in the loss of wealth greater than all combined wealth lost to invaders. Even rationalists are not immune to such behaviors, as exemplified by the behavior of the Central Minister involved in the 2 G scam.
You have a choice. You can join their ranks and become one of them, or you can set yourself apart from them and say, “I reject the unethical lifestyles of our so-called leaders who have lost their way in the quagmire of wealth and power. I will live an ethical life and set myself as an example for my children to follow.” Here are two of many examples of personal ethics, which could help one avoid serious problems in life:
i) In my pursuit to fulfill my desires and cope with evil, I shall not resort to violence, lying, stealing, cheating, evading, extorting, betraying trust, or violating other’s rights.
ii) In my dealings with others, I shall not impose my views on them, control them, manipulate them, violate their boundaries, place unrealistic expectation on them, abuse them, give unsolicited advice to them, and take undue advantage of them.
5. New Understanding Of Evils
I shall gain the knowledge of evil coming from without and within me, and learn appropriate skills to conquer them.
Evil can enter into our life from without or within. The evils from without are bad events of life such as death of loved ones, illness, betrayal of trust, accident, etc; and bad life-problems such as financial, job, health and other problems, which hound us day after day. You can learn the causes of various bad events and problem in life, and their negative effect on your mind, and apply rational, ethical and result-oriented methods to tackle them. We will discuss in the articles to follow various effective methods to cope with these evils.
The evils from within are common human frailties, which color our actions, such as greed, lust, jealousy, arrogance, hatred, vengefulness, insecurity, and the like. Over fifty percent of bad events in our life are caused by our own evil-driven actions. A simple example would be: An insecure man becomes extremely possessive of his girlfriend. He calls her on phone a hundred times a day. If she does not answer his call, he badgers her. Feeling intolerably suffocated, the girlfriend dumps him. The breakup devastates him leading to suicidal depression. Likewise, over fifty percent of bad problems are brought on by our weakness-driven behaviors. For example, to cover up his low self-esteem, a man lives beyond his means, buys a big house and fancy cars, and ends up with a huge debt. You can identify personal weaknesses within you, and develop a set of personal code of conduct to counter them, and prevent serious bad events and problems in your life. Two simple examples of codes to counter one’s inner weaknesses are:
Instead of feeling jealous of others’ success and wealth, I will try to be happy for them.
Instead of making myself miserable by constantly hankering for more wealth, I shall try to be content with what wealth I have earned by the sweat of my brow, live within my means, and focus on enjoying life to the fullest extent.
Discussion Of Some Related Issues
1. Self-empowerment And Integrity
The main goal of the practice of the above-mentioned New Belief System is to empower you as an independent individual while being part of the larger society. Self-empowerment grants you the ability to do the right thing without fear or favor. To do the right thing we need to achieve integration of our thinking, feeling, speech and actions. Our actions should be consistent with our speech, and our speech should be in accordance with our true thinking (beliefs) and emotions. The end product of such integration of all elements of our mind is Integrity. Without integrity, we could suffer from either mental conflict (two opposite beliefs quarreling with each other) or interpersonal conflict (two people quarreling with each other), or both. Thus self-empowerment is rooted in integrity. Lack of integrity in some of our leaders in all fields is why we perceive them as frauds, crooks and hypocrites. They think one thing, feel another thing, say something else, and do entirely different thing.
2. Self-awareness Versus Self-deception
Developing self-empowerment and Integrity requires us to cultivate self-awareness. Self-awareness consists of one knowing exactly what one is thinking, how one is feeling, why one is saying what he is saying, and doing the things he is doing. If you ask a self–aware person, “Why did you say or do such and such a thing?” he would give you a clear-cut answer, which makes perfect sense to any reasonable person. His speech and actions are consistent with his thought and emotions. He talks the talk, walks the walk, and tells it as it is.
Opposite of self-awareness is self-deception. If you pose a self-deceiving person the same question as the above, his answer would be, “I don’t know,” or “I did it for such and such a reason,” which would not make any sense to a rational person. For example, if you ask a person having a serious financial problem, “Why did you build a ten thousand square foot house with ten bathrooms?” he might give you any number of answers except the real one. The true answer was that he was jealous of his friend who lived in a nine thousand square foot house with nine bathrooms. This person did not have the self-awareness to answer, “You know, my insecurity and jealousy led me into this financial mess!” If he had self-awareness before he planned to build his house, he would have said to himself, “I am happy for my friend who lives in his mansion. I am content living in my two thousand five hundred square foot house. Besides, why would I want to impress anyone how rich I am?” A self-deceiving person’s thinking, feeling, speech and actions are not concordant. He appears confused or phony to others.
3. Self-deception Often Leads To Inappropriate Reactions
Without the knowledge of how the mind responds to a bad event or problem, one’s actions could be instinctive, evil or irrational. For example, if a young man’s girlfriend dumps him, he might instinctively reach out for alcohol, or drive recklessly on the highway, to numb his emotional pain. In this case, his self-deception consists of his naïve belief that he is not supposed to feel hurt after a painful breakup like this. He tries to forget his emotional pain by drinking alcohol or running away from it. Another man might indulge in evil behaviors such as attacking his ex-girlfriend, harassing her, stalking her, spreading bad rumors about her, posting her nude photos and videos on the web, and the like. In this case, his evil actions are based on self-deception that the breakup was entirely his girlfriend’s fault. She hurt him and so he wants to hurt and destroy her. If he can’t have her, he would make sure that no one else would. A third man might blame his misfortune on some unknown evil or planetary misalignment and resort to an irrational act of offering Pooja for a stone idol in a local temple. This person’s self-deception consists of blaming his failure on planetary misalignment.
4. Self-awareness Leads To Appropriate Reaction And Wisdom
In contrast to the above three inappropriate knee-jerk responses to being dumped, a self–aware person reacts appropriately to cope with bad events and problems in his life, and becomes a wiser person. In other words, he makes compost out of garbage life dumps on him. He acknowledges his emotional pain as caused by the breakup, accepts the reality that his relationship with his girlfriend is over; grieves over the loss; lets go of the girlfriend; does some introspection as to what mistakes they both made; learns from those mistakes, and avoids those mistakes in his future relationships. His constant Mantra would be, “I feel sad about this breakup, but that is life. I will grieve and get over this loss and move on with my life.” In the course of time he would gain the Ultimate Wisdom of Life:
All relationships end sooner or later by death, breakup or move. Life is a continual struggle to deal with one loss or another, and to conquer one fear or another.
To help young readers to develop self-awareness, self-empowerment and integrity, I will present in the next article a functional model of the mind. This model is in contrast to the structural model of the mind presented in the Upanishads and the Upanishadic Gita (BG: 3:42). It might interest the reader to know here that the sole purpose of the Upanishads was to overthrow Brahmanism and give people an alternative belief system exactly as I am doing in these articles. Upanishadists wanted to replace Prakriti with Brahman, the Gunas with Atman, desire-driven Yajna with desire-less Yoga, and hierarchical Varna and Jati Dharma with egalitarianism. Their interest in understanding the mind was due to their desire to understand the causes of unbridled passion for wealth, power and pleasure, and mindless actions (Yajnas) to gain them, they observed in the fallen Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Buddhiyoga (Yoga of Mind) was a remedy they offered to eliminate Shokam (grief) and Dwandwam (“bipolar disorder”) of the mind resulting from Brahmanism. The truth is that the concepts of Brahman, Atman and Yoga were mere spoof. None of the Vedanta scholars, including Swami Vivekananda, seemed to grasp the fundamental purpose of the Upanishads -overthrow of Brahmanism.
5. Presentation In The Form Of Aphorisms
Understanding a new concept is one thing, integrating it into one’s belief system and applying it in real life is entirely another. All new beliefs take time to integrate into our thought processes and appear in practice. It is a life-long process. To help readers to memorize these concepts, recall them easily and practice them regularly, I have presented them as aphorisms in the manner of secular Sutra of ancient India. The literal meaning of Sutra is Thread. In practice Sutra is a document, which connects many related aphorisms like a thread connecting pearls in a necklace. Here is an excellent description of a Sutra from Wikipedia:
“One of the most famous definitions of a sutra in Indian literature is itself a sutra and comes from the Vayu Purana:
alpākṣaraṃ asandigdhaṃ sāravad viśvatomukham
astobhaṃ anavadyaṃ ca sūtram sūtravido viduḥ
Of minimal syllabary, unambiguous, pithy, comprehensive,
continuous, and without flaw: who knows the sūtra knows it to be thus.”
Because of its brevity a Sutra enables readers to remember the concepts more easily. By no stretch of imagination my Sutras are a match to those of ancient times. Nevertheless, at least let me try it here.
Various definitions, concepts, and the functional model of the mind presented in the following articles are original and not found in any other source. It took me many years of methodical interviews of several thousand stressed-out patients to develop various stress-related concepts and the functional model of the mind presented here. To minimize misinterpretation and to ensure the integrity of the aphorisms in these articles, I have chosen to informally title them Kamath’s Stress Sutra, or simply, Kamath Sutra, pun intended. To make sense of the contents of the articles to follow, the reader must first thoroughly digest the fundamental concepts and the functional model of the mind presented in the next article. And for our young readers to integrate these concepts into their thinking and apply them in practice more than one reading might be required.
(To be continued)
What do you think about the series so far? For discussion about this series as a whole please go to this newly-created thread on the forums. Please address any issues related to the above article in the comments below.