I try not to write about politics on this page because politicians by their nature are in the divide and conquer business, whereas I see the Seeker’s Dungeon as a place where we are able to come together in the commonality of our struggle for inner peace. It is unclear to me whether my strong belief that spirituality and politics don’t belong together comes from my American upbringing and the belief in the separation of church and state, or my Indian upbringing that says we should not taint spirituality with impure things.
It’s funny because in both countries, politicians have no problem invoking religion to sway voters to their cause. That is the nature of the beast. But when we do it in the opposite direction, preaching politics from the pulpit, it appears dirty and degrading to that upon which the pulpit rests.
To a certain extent politics is about, or has become about, pandering. If you can’t make the people believe in what you believe, then you tell them what they want to hear to get elected. If you are not willing to do this, then the chances of you getting elected become much slimmer. This process can easily be seen in the constant catering to special interest groups and party bases in the early primaries, and then quickly moving more to the political center for the general elections.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is a very personal, inner search for truth; for that one thing that never changes. Spirituality would seem not to have any foundation in the world of politics. But that doesn’t stop politicians and religious activists from playing tug of war with policy decisions.
Of course, I can see how it would come into play. If you feel that you’ve found the answer, then you want to let those answers become a part of the governmental process. This might be acceptable if you are not claiming a democracy for all people. Totalitarian states can easily govern on the basis of their personal faith, but democracies are supposed to be a support and the means for the freedom of all people. Or is democracy’s real purpose is to support the mob mentality, i.e. whatever the most people believe in should be truth for all.
We all have to answer some questions for ourselves when looking at the relationship between religion and politics. Is it necessary for a good leader to believe in God? Is it necessary for that leader to believe in the same God that you do? Should we force leaders to tell us their religious beliefs knowing that in order to have a chance to win, they would probably have to lie if they don’t believe?
We all hear what we want to hear, take what we want to take, and keep what we want to keep from the sacred scriptures of the world. This last sentence from a devotee’s perspective could be rewritten as we all hear what we need to hear, take what we need to take and keep what we need to keep from the sacred scriptures. I remember very little from my Sunday school days but there was a quote that affected me in a traumatic sort of way and would become one of the foundation stones of my character. That is a quote from Jesus found in Matthew Chapter 5:34-37
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
It’s funny the things that stay with you, because it embedded a moral code into me that to this day I live by even knowing that most do not. To this day, I will not only say more than yes for yes and no for no, but on top of that I expect people to believe me when I say it. It’s an honor thing. I cannot stand it when people ask me the same question twice even when it is just a habit of their personality, such as always repeating, “Really is that so?” Of course, I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it, I’ll always think. This may be why a politician’s flux doesn’t sit well with me, even if I understand it.
The world is a constantly changing place. When we read the words of the godly men and women we are reading about people that updated religion for the time in which they lived. They rocked the world of the establishment. Whether it was Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, or Amma, they were and are blowing the minds of the worlds that they walk in.
I live in India and here spirituality is fluid. The history here of the guru and disciple relationship is as old as the religion is, so it is able to change with the times without being blasphemous. This change may be much more difficult for other societies where the teachings were set in stone once the master died.
I can understand a church that doesn’t want to change, for they are set in tradition, but to expect government not to change with a world that is blazing away with new technologies and new issues, is setting that government up for failure.
To me government and religion are ruling two different dimensions. One rules the world, the other rules the heart. While spirituality can teach us how to live in such a world, and guide us in our personal decisions, including who we vote for, we shouldn’t expect that our values are the same as those around us. God is so great that he can come to each person in a form that they will be attracted to him. That is my personal belief. But, should the world be ruled by the attraction of our neighbor’s when they may hold separate beliefs than our own, or should we all be free to follow our own hearts?
Maybe the real question is what does freedom mean to you?
Featured image via http://www.play.google.com