Saturday, May 01, 2010

Atheism, redefined

All of us strive to attain certain goals in life and are accordingly driving our life in certain directions. But, what is the purpose behind all these goals and aspirations? As sufficiently elaborated in previous posts, the idea is to achieve inner bliss and happiness.

Also, we have discussed that most sources of joy are temporary and end up making us more miserable than before. The more we achieve the pleasures, the more we crave for them.

Thus, we established that we are seeking happiness, which is everlasting, one which can be only be derived internally and not from external objects. Taking this assumption as the starting point, we would try and look at a new definition of atheism.

We are all seeking eternal happiness. One question that remains to be answered is if this quest is possible. Is freedom from pleasure of the senses and detachment from objects and people a possibility? Is such an ideal state, devoid of any attachment, attainable? Mahavira, Buddha, Adi Shankaracharya and many other saints of the past have attained enlightenment and reached this state of moksha or nirvaana.

Do we believe that the possibility of detachment exists, for some great soul in this world? The question is not of whether you find it possible for you, the question is whether you find it possible for any one - is this state humanly possible - whether it is for Buddha, Mahavira or anyone else. If you believe in the possibility of the liberation of even a single soul, then you are a believer. If you believe that Buddha and Mahavira who were mere mortals attained enlightenment, you are a believer.

In my opinion, the role of religion is just to instill faith in people that such an ideal is possible. All the idols made for God are just human ways of expressing an ideal. The rites and rituals are meaningless if they cant fill one with the belief in the possibility of perfection that lies within oneself. Surprise surprise, but Buddhism is an agnostic religion while Jainism an atheistic one, where there is no belief in the presence of an external God. But, both religions believe in the existence of infinite possibilities within oneself.

It is an unfortunate thing that rites and rituals today have attained more importance than the ideal behind them. An idealist is a very strong believer who believes that she herself can attain this state of perfection. But, there also exist people in society, who believe in the ideal but not in their own possibility of achieving it. Even these are believers.

But, people who do not believe in the idea of such bliss and peace, the one who term themselves practical and realists, are the ones whom I term as atheists. Atheism is the lack of belief, not in God, but in that principle to propagate which, God came into being. God is nothing but a human soul, devoid of attachment, pain or pleasure. Realism or practicality is nothing but a euphemism for atheism.

Thus, all those atheists who dream, who believe in the concept of a "purpose", are believers while all those believers who are "practical" in thinking and who make cuts and corners to achieve their own ends are atheists.

But, can one really be an atheist - a believer in the purposelessness and uselessness of her ownself and that of others. Someone who doesn't believe in a purpose and hence, believes in nothing. If there was ever such a soul on earth, she would be too depressed to live. Thus, all people who commit suicides are atheists, but if you can feel the air coming in and going out of your nostrils, you are still in some sense, a believer :)