Reward /Punishment and suffering in life
I accept a Designer of All, the Great Mystery, as I call it, which transcends the “gods” of the Abrahamic based religions, since they all subscribe to the Reward/Punishment schema. Many are comfortable with reward/punishment since it reflects how one’s parents are and how society is organized. I do understand the simplicity of “believing” in a god of that sort.
Man declares he wants “freedom”, when, in reality, most want a structure of laws that control them, be it in religion or society. The laws of the three religions are very rigid, in most part, and this provides a comfortable boundary.
A “free thinker” rejects the above and is left alone, to determine for himself/herself. This is really much more difficult in that one is trying to understand spiritual things with the natural mind, which is not even possible. Even given the impossibility, I cannot go back and snuggle under one of the three religious trees I mentioned, depending on it for shade………..
Therefore, I am not bound by the idea that “life in its entirety” is a blessing. I personally know of many, in a variety of societies, that strangle a new born child at birth. It happens all the time and all over the world: Simply because they are not able to provide for an additional family member. Perhaps you are unaware of this, but I see it and have for decades and also know about it from reading history all my life, especially cultural anthropology.
In some societies I know, if a female is born, there is considerable mourning, not joy or celebration. And, if one goes back to that house the next day, they will most assuredly not see the baby that day or any day thereafter.
I would be interested in knowing what greater miseries the rich endure in contrast to those who live in generational abject poverty.
I know that there is suffering in life; I also know for sure that life is a blessing. And we all know as humans that the apparently contradictory statements I have made are both true. That’s how this life of ours is. There are pleasures as well as sorrows, but we all want to make life better and better. Those who abandon life are very few and it is a huge exaggeration to generalize their example to include everyone.
We know that planes occasionally crash, causing loss of life. Despite that, I hear very few people demanding that air travel should be abandoned. Anyone who would do it will do so at the peril of being called crazy, because air travel is on the whole worthwhile despite the occasional suffering on account of its accidents.
There is a sense of proportion God has gifted to all of us that helps us know large from small, tall from short, and numerous from few. We all know that if someone is trying to prove that few are more than numerous, he has a vital human faculty missing in him.
The rich also suffer from personal tragedies, loneliness, depressions etc. There are many diseases which only the rich are ‘privileged’ to invite. It is difficult to decide what constitutes real happiness; and it is extremely difficult to decide as to which of the two groups is on the average more happy.
Everyone has a right to decide whether he chooses to accept one religion or the other or for that matter no religion. But the choice, I think, must be only made after getting satisfactory answers to the following questions:
i) What’s the guarantee that the contents of the message are exactly the same as were presented by the one who claimed it to be from God?
ii) Do the teachings of the message present a convincing picture of the creator?
iii) Do the teachings give an understanding of why there was suffering and how it was going to be overcome?
iv) Do the teachings appeal to the common sense of the individual?
I concede that different individuals will come up with different responses about which of the religious responses is more convincing. I am sure that some people would conclude that none of them is making sense. However what cannot be accepted is the claim that some people have adopted a certain ideology because they find some kind of psychological comfort in it.
I have a right to criticize an ideology for its apparent flaws from the outside. I don’t have a right however to peep into the hearts of others to suggest what human weaknesses have caused them to cling to a certain ideology.