Perhaps my age is right to make a beginning, but I do not see myself making much progress down the path of religion, any religion.
However, when I can, I do visit what I consider my spiritual recharge center. I was at that place last week as a pilgrim. Every year, all of us who gather there observe a day of silence.
The night before the day of silence, I was a reading a book in which a wise soul lamented how the end of love marked the beginning of religion.
If pilgrims cultivate (an) inner sense of discipline while expressing their love (for God), then there is no need for rules and regulations.
The queue to spend a moment in the sanctum sanctorum, as it were, snaked long and slow. Silence prevailed; so did the desperation to jump the queue.
Some put to use apparent disadvantages of age and anatomy to defuse frowns and gain positional advantage.
The more ingenious delivered a bottle of water or a flower to someone ahead in the line, engaged in earnest conversation and stayed put.
Suddenly, the divisions mattered more than ever—nationality, tongue, skin colour. We exploited affinities. We stared daggers at the outsiders who didn’t belong. My God versus your God.
It is the same destination. The long wait in the company of pilgrims is supposed to be part of the experience. There is a sign somewhere that “lovingly requests” pilgrims not to jump the queue. That works most days. Not today. Not when it matters most.
When more and more rules are created … the place becomes more organized and more efficient and it very soon becomes an organization. The love, which was freely flowing, begins to disappear…. This is the beginning of religion where do’s and don’ts eventually govern the place and love dries up.
Elsewhere, at another significant place for pilgrims, I paused to admire the elaborate design of a flower I have never seen before. It was dancing to the steady tickle of a breeze. I had to arrest the celebration for a photo. Somehow, it didn’t feel right to force it to be still for the sake of a mundane camera. I left it to amaze others and turned back a moment later to see someone plucking it.
In her hands, it will stop dancing, wither in moments. The crushed mess will be thrown away. No matter. If it is different, if it is special, why share? I must possess.
Why must we push in our rush to walk the same path, when the duration of the journey is not ours to choose? Will that take us any sooner to the same destination? Why not let a few flowers be for fellow travelers to enjoy and admire?
Pilgrimage over, I am back, where to yield is to fail; not to pluck is to lose. Earn, yearn. Hopefully, I will learn to slow down, stick to the side. That will help me see better the flowers I shall not pluck.
The quotes in italics are from “The Real Treasure—IV, Life of a Resident with Avatar Meher Baba’s Mandali” by Rustom Falahati.