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13 September 2007


Reshma Munshi

We cannot touch, taste or see religion. My mother once told me from her readings : Religion is to be what one is-- to be one`s real true self, achieved through meditation and self realisation, which leads to a feeling of deep happiness and peace. Tjis was practised by ancient sages in India. If to be happy and to be peaceful is religion, there is only a single religion. All "religious practices", (fasting, praying etc)then, are drawn in order to attain the self discipline which helps to concentrate to be near ourselves, to be near God, and to be our true self.

But because we concentrate so much on the means to attain the true self, to so speak, the rituals, religion becomes an empty mechanistic practice. Maybe it no longer remains religion, because it did not lead to the state of peace and happiness we are meant to attain. The energy, not becoming positive, ends up into negativity, as a destructive political tool.

Emmanuelle M.

One more thing: two weeks ago I went to the wedding ceremony of a girl working in the same organization as me, and at the end of the ceremony, because it was a beautiful ceremony and I felt close to all these people happy about the same event, I wanted to stay longer in the church and do these very special things that christian orthodox people do in Ehtiopia: stay bare-footed, bend in front of the statue of Virgin Mary, pray and kiss the ground. The catholic priest, when he saw me remove my shoes, told me "we are not muslims here, you do not have to remove your shoes", and followed me to the place I wanted to stay alone in, without any respect for the privacy of my prayer. I was shocked of course, but unfortunately it is not the first time I was shocked by Catholics, but I felt still in the loving moment of the wedding ceremony, and left the church without any comment to this man who most probably had a spirituality that was close to mine though he could not recognize it. Poor him.

Emmanuelle M.

Just two comments on your text which raises indeed very interesting questions:
About fasting, I read once in a book (from Jean-Marie Le Clezio) a conversation between a man and a boy which was very beautiful and peaceful. The boy asked what was Ramadan about. The man asked him: when you are very eager to eat, do you want to drink ? No answered the boy. When you are very eager to drink, do you want to eat ? No answered the boy. So, said the man, this is what fasting is about. But what are you so much eager for, then, if it is not food or drink ? asked the boy. I am eager for God.
I am not sure my translation is good enough, but the text in French was very beautiful, simple and peaceful.
And this leads me to my second remark, about religion: I guess spirituality is what we call religion sometimes, and this is someting eternal and universal. While religion is the human structure that is trying to "encode" or "organize" it in order for people who think the same to be able to gather in the same social structure. And I guess the religion leads to wars while spirituality gets people together.
I wish we were all more open to our own and very intimate spirituality, and able to open to each other's spirituality. I wish I could do it wherever I am, while I am only able to in Ehtiopia at the moment.

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