"Arun, do you really believe that there is a heavenly abode from where Lords Muruga, Ganesha and Shiva are watching us all the time?" asked a friend over 12 years ago. I was stumped. And stayed silent. Yes, I knew that a lot of them are just stories, and myths, and mythical stories. But I was also conflicted. If there really is no heavenly abode with all these gods - as made out in scripture - then how can I be certain that the other things that scripture says are also true? And if only a part of scripture is true, which part is real and which part is fiction???
Most importantly, how do I get the wisdom to distinguish fact from fiction?
More questions followed over time. Why do certain religions claim exclusivity to God? How can certain groups state that if the world does not follow their path - and their path alone - they are consigned to a life in hell? And how can one reconcile the 'world was created in 7 days' school with the evolutionary school that maintains that the humans developed over centuries?
In other words, what is fact and what is fiction?
Every one of us has experienced this and we consider the unraveling of such questions to be a quest. We realize that answers do not arrive with a 'flash of insight'. That is why we mull, read, ponder, and sleep over them. We also converse and validate. Finally we conclude. But that is never the end. Sometimes our 'conclusions' are proven right through experience. But sometimes, they don't. That is when we - yet again - mull, read, ponder, sleep, validate and conclude. And once we conclude, we realize to our surprise that our questions do not stop. Like a video game, as we clear one level, we enter a new level with more complex questions.
And as our questions - our answers to them - multiply, we yet again wonder what is fact and what is fiction.
That's life. A constant search for answers in a forest of confusing questions. By analyzing what occurred centuries earlier and contemplating what lessons it holds for our future. Eventually, like my blog here, I suspect that we will discover that our journey was as meaningful as our destination. And we will be able to significantly discern the lesson of the story (fact) from the story (fiction) itself.
My personal journey on this front is unfortunately not much ahead of the start line (grin). I am way behind peers who read The Gita, J. Krishnamurti or Swami Vivekananda. My personal realization arc is still in its infancy. One that has a very strange construct because it was formed not through The Gita or Ramayana, but by imbibing Abraham, Walking The Bible and The Immortals of Meluha. One that tells me to remain flexible about God because 'my' Vishnu is not in any way superior to my neighbor's Allah who in turn does not supersede my work mate's Christ and who in turn does not tower over others. That the paths to God are many. That you must Seek. And the Answers will come.
What I have said here is no rocket science. Yet, in the name of 'my way is the right way' and in his inability to separate fact from fiction, man fights.