Friday, 30 May 2014

Do We Believe in God?

It is commonly assumed that here people believe in God. In fact belief in God implies certain things that we can measure or observe to some extent. Traditionally belief is testified by good deeds. These two can’t be separated. Applying this test we can examine the thesis that Kahmiris are God fearing people.
To believe means one believes in the Fatherhood of God, in unity of spirit that constitutes all of us. It means loving one’s neighbour because he is us as he shares Spirit or Self that is one and indivisible.  It implies a culture where people trust one another because they trust God.
Once upon a time, the question of mistrust was not there as there was no need to tell a lie and no imperative to fool the other as people were united with Heaven. Law was honoured. People had no greed. This is the narrative bequeathed to us by traditions. This is true about the mythical golden age. But then degeneration set in and laws were formulated as Taoist scripture tells us. And then laws were breached as well. But somehow keeping the law was the norm until secular modernity that wrote off any reference to the heavenly law, to commandments, to the law in the depth of human heart. What Modernity did was to substitute secular legal regulations. But law can’t regulate everything. Even faith in the law presupposes certain amount of trust and not just fear in the citizens. As God’s authority was thrown away, there remained the authority of secular reason that expressed itself in legal reason. So the problem of trust is fundamentally a problem of secular reason. We don’t find it assuming such a frightening proportion in any traditional culture. People trusted God is in the heavens, destiny, promises, spouses, teachers, governments or kings etc. That explains why families were largely stable. Business transactions were orally recorded or just witnessed through oral witness without any documents. In Kashmir, to give an example, few decades back land transfers were made without recourse to affidavits or documents. Even today, there is a vibrant institution of wazum in which shopkeepers accept to get payment at some later date without interest against purchase of some item. There were many examples a decade or two back in which children were married off by parents even before their birth. A person agreed to marry new male child to female child of another person even before these children were born.
If we indeed trusted one another, there would be no need for guarantors for loans, no affidavits, no identity proofs. But what I am talking about? Another world. Of course. I am only saying all this is incompatible with belief in God. Scribing our transactions of which the Quran talks doesn’t imply initial mistrust but something else that has more to do with what we in Kashmiri say : Hisab gow maelis ti gobres !
       Today it is sometimes claimed that in certain developed countries people trust a great deal. There is no need to tell a lie or fear one is being fooled. This is true but we can still claim that there is a problem of mistrust. Even if people would generally trust their governments or public institutions many forms of mistrust remain which we could ultimately trace to lack of trust in Metaphysical First Principle. It is difficult to see examples of trust in Heavens, Cosmic Intelligence or Divine Decree, Moral Law, Neighbour. To give just one example of loss of trust: In the past great travellers like Fa-hien and Ibn Batuta could travel across regions and continents and were not required to show passport. Today our techno-legal approach has dispensed with the need of trust.  One can board a plane or bus or park a car or purchase anything on the basis of pre-validated tickets/documents. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.
We may have become more polite. We may not feel like cheating a customer. We play fairly our games. But these things don’t imply we trust. Trust presupposes faith in the uncertain choice the other will make. It operates without any reference to documents, exchange, mutual expectation. It is a gift of spirit. And one can’t trust a neighbour truly if   one can’t truly greet him. Traditional greeting expressions have reference to faith  or trust in Heavens. Even “good morning”  perhaps invokes this. If we are unable to trust heavens, we have hardly any right to use greeting from traditions today. Secular man can’t greet his neighbour if he doesn’t share the faith in fellowship of spirit.
So we can conclude that practically, as a community, we don’t believe in God, don’t love our neighbours and thus don’t trust. And we can’t start believing in God unless we give up our view of self, world and other.

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