More on questioning – “Facts are Friendly”


The many comments on my previous article “Questioning your faith” made me think a lot. I will try to answer the questions “what is the value of questioning your faith?”, “when should you question your faith?”, and “how should you question your faith?”.

The Value of Questioning

As a Hindu we see a human as made of several parts. There are various ways of looking at this, but one is as an emotional mind (manas), an intellect (buddhi), and the spiritual mind (atman). Questioning and reasoning can help bring the intellect and atman in line, understanding what your spirit tells you.

A teacher once told me “facts are friendly”, meaning that you should not ignore facts. If a fact seems to be at odds with your belief then either your belief is wrong or your understanding is. If a religion has to ban certain questions, or statements of fact then it is wrong, and its followers cannot have mental peace – they will forever be guarding against people speaking the truth. At extremes they kill people who do to avoid others questioning.

Hinduism is very lenient about questioning – but still we have to remember that “facts are friendly” includes all facts. We have to accept things like some Hindus eat meat and sacrifice animals, some Hindus treat others as untouchables, and even that some Hindus see the shivalinga as a phallic symbol. We should not deny these facts, but put it into perspective. Are they common or just limited to a few individuals? What is basic Hinduism and what is cultural? Is it wrong for someone who lives in the high grass lands of Nepal to eat meat when hardly any crops will grow? If not, then is sacrificing animals a natural expression, like offering fruit as prashad is to us? Would it be wrong for someone from a vegetarian Hindu school to do the same? I am not going to answer these questions – I am just sowing how these facts that may seem embarrassing or at odds to our beliefs can deepen our understanding.

When to Question your Faith

Though questioning can help us understand our beliefs and reach an inner peace, questioning at times can be harmful. We need to avoid repeated questions that we have already asked and considered, or we can end up going round and round and not progressing. A question can become a doubt or a lack of faith. It can be useful to consider “is God in the murti”, think about its meaning and implications once, and again if someone says something new on the idea. On the other hand if you ask this question every time you perform puja it will not be good. Questions need to be passed by as we move on – they are part of our path, not our destination. As we progress we will tend to question less, as we live a more spiritual life.

Also, we should be clear that the questioning is of our faith and our understanding. We should not question others, and certainly never question what our gurus say. If we don’t understand something minor our guru says, or it seems wrong, we should put it to one side. Perhaps it was meant symbolically or we will understand it later. If we ever have a major difference with our guru or school, one that means that we cannot follow it we should not say “this guru was wrong”, but say “I cannot follow this guru’s path, clearly many other people can”. Part as friends, who knows your path may bring you back one day!

Faith will Correct Us

Finally, a number of commenters said that “true faith will correct any misunderstandings”. I agree with this completely, as long as the faith is in God within you. We cannot say that it is true of all beliefs, those which indoctrinate “this book is true and anyone who questions it must be punished” steer people away from this connection from the atman to the paramatman. We have all seen that this can lead people to doing things that common humanity would tell them is wrong in the name of faith.

So in summary, a faith that allows questioning is good. Questioning to deepen our understanding is positive. However we must not get bogged down in repeating the same old questions again and again. Also, question yourself on your beliefs, not your teachers or gurus correctness. Follow the spirit, pray for understanding and it will come.

Aum

 


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25 responses to “More on questioning – “Facts are Friendly”

  1. This is one of the most wonderfully insightfull things i have read in a very long time. As always, you seem to cut to the very heart of the issue. With all my heart i agree with you. Though sometimes i have failed miserably i always try to leave others in peace, they are Beloved. Funny thing is…sometimes they do come right back to you. Just as you said above. Many times in my life this has come true. But even if they do not, they are very dear to me…and every night i pray they have found a place of peace, Love and happiness.

    Hari Om Beloved<3

  2. A good post. I particularly appreciate your questions about vegetarianism and caste prejudice. These are good examples of the many questions modern Hindus should ask themselves. Of course, they also highlight the essential Hindu dilemma: Hinduism does not exist as a monolithic entity but is expected to behave like one, by non-Hindus and, increasingly, by Hindus themselves. What an interesting array of questions Hindus will face in the decades to come, particularly, I think, outside India.

    • An interesting point. I think to a certain extent we must declare our individual lineages. After all someone might introduce themselves as a Christian in an inter-faith group, but when asked about papal infallibility simply say that they are not a Catholic and they don’t believe in it.

  3. vegetarianism(satvic food) is practiced by brahmins for reaching higher goals in life through bhakti & sadhna
    every hindu knows how rishis lived in ‘barren’ icy himalaya. vegetarianism is mostly practiced by Brahmins whose duty is to do all the rituals & bhakti sadhna etc of hindus. if people from any other varna wants to do that(rituals), he would have to sacrifice something that would include non veg. but for bhakti alone u don’t need to stop eating non veg, although it would be better to quit & move towards more satvic food.
    even if u follow ur varnashram dharma properly with bhakti thats good enough.(just follow 4 stages of ur life(ashramas)
    i don’t know to which varna foreigners or new converts belong to.

    • Actually that’s not entirely correct. Yes, it’s true strict adherence to any rule or regulation is not nearly as important as the sincerity and faith in the mind and heart when practicing the devotional path of bhakti yoga.
      However, the real issue with non-vegetarianism is the very heavy negative karmic reactions accrued by consumption of meat. Meat is murder, after all. The animal suffers by your consumption of meat. Your act of murder, or alternatively of accepting and enjoying the fruits of such a heinous crime, is also rooted in a lack of compassion and mercy as well as properly controlled senses that could resist such enjoyments, which are fundamental qualities on the path of bhakti yoga.
      No one is exempt from the results or reactions of their karma. Yes, provisions are made in some scriptures to lower the standards for those who are not yet ready and willing to accept higher standards – and animal abuse is no exception – but these do not actually free the spiritual practitioner from the reactions of their karma on their own. Nor is this their purpose. Rather, the goal is to simply build faith in and a desire to adhere to the injunctions of the scriptures, so that the practitioners may explore further and enter into the real deep roots of bhakti yoga. Once they reach a certain stage in their relationship with Sri Bhagavan, they will automatically accept what is pleasing to Him, and reject what is not – including meat-eating, simply out of pure love for the Lord.

  4. WWert :- you are wrong vegetarianism is practiced by any person who want spritual progress….However Non-Veg is strictly prohibited if you want to make spritual progress..these things are very well recorded in our scriptures… those people whose sole objective is to attain knowledge and to teach other came under Bhrahmin Varna….Your deeds decide which Varna you will belong..However either it is your Ignorance or foolishness you ask what Varna Foreigners belongs to ..,,there are 6 type of Varnas 1) Kshatriya 2) Bhrahmin 3) Vashya 4) Shudra 5) Dasyu 6) Arya….your deeds decide which varna one belong to now a days i think most of the people belongs to Arya Varna (which means noble people)…Please have read about this http://agniveer.com/caste-system/ …..

  5. Thanks Tandava Good writeup..Hinduism encourages questioning…Srimad Bhagwat Gita is all about questioning ..Like Arjun keep Questioning Shri Krishna about his doubts…Keep writing ….and it is important for Hindus to Look in to their scripture….seems like many of them don’t even understand there dharma

  6. The vegetarian/non veg thing is a contentious area. I think it might be worth stating what I think we can all agree on; a Hindu following a guru or lineage that teaches vegetarianism should be vegetarian.

  7. Tandava :- however this is an off topic comment but here i just want to point out .I am posting a blog post of a big journalist who is talking about How the Anti Hindu Govt. and Communist MSM ..trying very hard to demean our Great Religion…they fool don’t understand Secularism is in the DNA of Hindus…and Now in India Abusing Hindus is a norm for secularism..However hiding up news about Missionaries lead conversions and Muslim riots is an essential part of it..

    http://www.mediacrooks.com/2012/09/in-denial-part-1-cover-up-muslim.html#.UGEyBbKPVfh

    and http://www.mediacrooks.com/2012/09/in-denial-part-2-covering-up-muslim.html#.UGEyXbKPVfg

    However if you read these articles it explains how systematically our Books has been re-Written to hide the actual History of Hinduism….No wonder many of Indian Hindus you meet they don’t even understand Hinduism..However this are sad affairs but DotCom is boon ..Now people are getting Basics from social media..which they should get from basic schooling..

  8. by the way MSM in my Above comment is Main Stream Media

  9. to,
    Prabhat,
    not every Hindu agrees with agniveer’s interpretation of hinduism or with mine or yours, no principle of Hinduism has 100% agreement(except may be karma & dharma) with all sects . don’t quote scriptures unless u are a scholar of scriptures or a have a great understanding of them. there are many number of interpretations of every line in different sects follow what ur sects teach Dont say a view other than agniveer is wrong.if only single view dominates or only one book becomes supreme hinduism may become like catholicism or islam or sikhi(no disrespect to these religions)

  10. Wwert:- First I have NOT found a single HIndu who is NOT agree with Agniveer or Arya Samajis Interpretation of Vedas…However I have often found those who don’t agree with AryaSamajis are Missionary Guys or Muslim fools like Jakir Naik and his puppets….who twist the lines to meet their agenda & they r boldly exposed by Agniveer..AryaSamajis have good command on vedas that is un questionable..and anyway Agniveer Interpretation is inline with AryaSamajis..and if anybody has issue with any line of explanation is free to raise concern .If you have any concern on above explanation then you can email me at chauhan.prabhat.bsa@gmail.com or if you want to raise any concern directly with Agniveer you can comment on their fb page http://www.facebook.com/agniveeragni you will get prompt answer…make sure you will NOT be using Max Muller translation of vedas That is corrupt one and have numerous of issue..However I know many Muslim group is trying to demean Agniveer as he is a big pain for there Daawa Propoganda and fool zakir naik.

  11. As far as I know all sections of Hinduism consider vedas as base..and those who do not agree with Vedas are Not infact Hindus …As per Indian Supreme Court ..

  12. @ tandava
    this is unrelated, but i wanted to know this “What are names which Lord Shiva gave as his father, grand father and forefather on his marriage?”(http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=ArDKOX7jUYnlv6YMrE4zg7eRHQx.;_ylv=3?qid=20120725212753AAu1DuY)
    i got an answer for this in yahoo answers but wanted to know this answer as per your (Nandinatha) tradition

  13. Interesting post. Indeed, it is necessary – to some degree at least – to question in order to spiritually advance, but that questioning should be done in a sincere spirit of inquiry and pursuit of the knowledge of the ultimate truth, and not so much in an accusatory, fault-finding spirit. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explicitly gives the process of asking SUBMISSIVELY from those who have seen the truth to understand it. Then, by practicing the truth, it eventually becomes realized knowledge (vijnana).
    Gaudiya Vaishnavism / the Hare Krishna spiritual tradition explicitly gives this checks-and-balances system: that any truth should be verifiable by the mutual agreement of guru (spiritual teacher), sadhu (great souls on the spiritual path), and shastra (scriptures). This checks-and-balances system ensures that one is kept in line.
    Want to know if your guru is valid and bona fide? See what the scriptures and sadhus say about the qualities of a true guru, and whether or not your prospective guru – in teaching AND in personal practice – aligns with that.
    Want to know if your accepted shastras, shastric quotes, and/or understandings of those shastras, are correct? Just submissively consult the sadhus and especially your guru to verify it.
    Want to know if the sadhus with whom you associate or seek guidance from are on the right track? Again, simply consult with guru and shastra, and your answer shall be confirmed.
    It’s a very nice process. And if you don’t know where to start, as far as which gurus, sadhus, and shastras to follow, simply pray from the heart for proper guidance from within and without, and it shall be given to you by the grace of the Lord. Hare Krishna!

  14. This is an offtopic comment see how Christian Missionary in India are fooling hindus by Misquoting there scriptures .. One of the Missionary website Twisting our texts
    http://blogs.agniministries.org
    So it is the time for All hindus of the world to understand there Scriptures so that NO body will able to fool you

  15. Thanks tandava i have seen that post…seems like it is organized group…who is hell bent on twisting and adding to fulfill their agenda..I think we Hindus also need to be aware about if some one claim something in our texts we need to verify its authenticity…….Here in India there is a Islam Preacher named as Zakir Naik…He twisted the texts to find out Mohammad in Vedas…his lies were badly stripped by Aryasamajis in their Refutation…However you want to have a read..you can check this link..you will enjoy this article and will also laugh how desperate are these Muslim and christian missionary guys are to twist or present the bogus texts…..to get some converts..http://agniveer.com/prophet-vedas/

    Thanks tandava…by the way long time no post ..I daily check your blog to increase my gyan..

  16. Just to inform everyone the first ever reliable translation of vedas in english is here at http://store.agniveer.com/products/the-hymns-of-yajurveda

    Maxmuller translation of vedas is full of mistakes and misinterpretation.

  17. Dear Tandava,
    Its been a long time since I came here & commented. I saw this video created by converted brahmin Christians,where they use the very veda mantras &prayers to deny Both the Vedas & Hindu Gods. This is just the titles page. ,where they use Sankrit & Names of Lord shiva as a prayer for Jesus. [so poorly has the copying been done that they didn’t even pronounce ‘suta’ meaning ‘son’ properly]. People call it ‘inculturation Process’ by the church to get more converts & to appropriate Hindu symbols/mantras. I’d like your views.on it. There was a link to the trailer for this movie which they’ve called ‘Asattoma Sadgamaya’. I hope tyou are able to view this video /comment.
    [Tandava: Inline video changed to link ]

    • (post this)
      sita,
      yes there’s huge huge christian propaganda machine running in tamil nadu they claim that all important historical tamil figures were christians(like thiruvalluvar) all the good parts of hiduism actually came from christianity & they claim that jesus is the son of hindu god.(brahmaputra BullSh*t)
      & THE MOST shameful fact is that the ignorant tamil hindus accept these things. & becoz this model of conversion has become successful its now being implemented in AP & other neighboring states , also many tamil christians preserve their tamil/sanskritic names (like siva, prabhu etc) so that they don’t seem different to Hindus while they preach to them about christianity, its like hearing from a hindu all the good qualities of christianity & listener would never even think that guy named siva would be appreciating jesus to convert the listener. listener will just think this is genuine facts & the christian preacher siva has no intentions to convert him.its their strategy to hide their intentions.
      they also subvert the meanings of hindu mantras & show that hinduism teaches that jesus is their Savior.

  18. Previously they had privatised[thus unable to view,following criticism(possibly)] the link to the trailer of the movie for which the above video is title song!

  19. Whenever you eat anything, ask yourself if you can offer this to god. For many hindus can’t offer meat to the god they believe in the most (remember the god you BELIEVE IN THE MOST, some might believe in lord krishna the most, other in lord hanuman the most) but muslims on the other hand can. It’s all based on devotion. The offering to god is Prasadam and that is what Bhagwad Gita says. One should eat Prasadam.
    AUM

  20. I remember a meeting of a guru and bishop with an atheist. The atheist went to those people and asked both of them that i studied hard for my test but still i failed, explain why did that happen to me? The bishop immediately said “It’s god’s will son, that’s what he wants.” The guru on the other hand smiled and said “It was your destiny. Now let me explain you what is destiny?” The bishop answered right away “God’s will. Thats what destiny is.” The guru to that said “It’s not god’s will. God is not impartial as said by every religion in the world. It’s the account that god keeps of your karma. God is making you face the ill consequences of your paap karmas and you will continue to fail the exam untill you have faced the equity for your paap karmas. I will give you an example. A person after not drinking alcohol for days says to himself that he has ceased himself for a long time and thinks that he has some sort of certification for drinking. But he has to face the consequence of doing that paap karma (drinking alcohol is not having prasadam). Thus there must have been something bad that you might have done and it is the consequence for that.” The atheist metaphorically pounced on the guru and said ” So you are trying to say that i’m a bad person”. The guru to this answered calmly ” You are atman and thus are neutral, neither good nor bad. Only your karmas are bad which is clearly visible in your falas (fruits you are bearing). A knowledgeable person never gets reluctant in accepting that his/her karmas were bad.” To this the atheist asked ” So what do you think i should do? I mean if i’m going to fail then what’s the use of doing anything?” The guru replied ” Do your job. Right now you are a student and your job is to study and get gyan (knowledge). Continue giving your test and don’t be afraid of the fruits. Even you fail again, continue giving your tests as of one day you will have faced the equity of paap karmas and you will start bearing sweet fruits. This is what is meant by ‘ Karmanya Vadhika raste, Ma faleshu kadachana- Only do you job, don’t think about fruits”
    Aum

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