“Do you believe in God?” my 10 year old asked me straight at my face. Eyes large with expectation of an honest answer. No I could not lie to him. I remember the first time I asked myself that question, I was about his age. It was a moral science class in school. Nothing made sense. My mother being an extremely God fearing lady, made sure to follow all the rituals, say all the prayers & inculcate the same in us. I never had the courage to talk to her or anyone else about my views. So I simply played along. Played along for the next 30 years of my life till my son spoke to me. The next thing he said was a matter of fact kind of statement, ‘I don’t’. All of 10, and he had decided something so complex, so important. What I did next was not any good Indian parent would do. Neither did I reprimand him nor did I instil fear in his mind. I just appreciated his honesty & let him be.
After the initial doubt, it took me the next 3 decades to realise that I don’t believe in religion, but I believe in spirituality. It took me that long to figure out that while religion is external. Spirituality comes from within. In the end, it’s all about seeking peace from your thoughts, conduct and action and about being a good human being. These are the values I’d rather inculcate. So I gave my son the space to find his beliefs and stick to them, rather than carve a path and force him to walk on.
The stranger I married is extremely god fearing. He makes sure to light the lamp every day and pray too. I, on the other hand have been looked down upon and judged for not doing the same. But when we took our marriage vows in front of the same fire and in presence of God, It is me who took those vows seriously and lived up to it every day. When there were problems/expectations/responsibilities, It is me who faced them without running away. I lived up to every promise that I made with or without the fear of God. Somewhere in the rush of life and in the forced need to believe in God, the values of life seem to be lost.
My answer to my little one would be: No I don’t believe in God, so I don’t seek him externally in places of worship or in words of prayer. But I believe that there is a little bit of God within everyone that shows in their conduct. That is the God I seek within myself and everyone around me.