“Who Wants to be VP?” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

As we are on the cusp between electing a new president and keeping the present one, partisan voices are relentlessly attacking us from all directions. Those unwanted demagogues are violating our privacy through social media, robocalls, television ads, talk shows, door-to-door campaigning, and unsolicited leaflets.

The fact remains that regardless of who we elect will be as flawed as we are. After all, he will represent us and our conscience. The good news is that the next president will have the freedom to do the right things without worrying about pleasing his base. Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden will seek the office again, one limited by the term-limit another because of the age constraint.

Although I wish every candidate a long life, it is important to ponder about the possibility of the elected president dying in office, thus giving way to his VP to the highest office in the land. This is important considering the age factor of the two presidential candidates. After all, nine vice presidents in the U.S. became president after the death of their predecessors.

John Tyler was the first VP to assume presidency when William Harrison (the 9th president) died of pneumonia 31 days after taking the oath of office. Four VPs assumed the highest office due to the assassination of the president. Andrew Johnson, the first president to later become a US Congressman replaced Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865. Chester Arthur became president after James Garfield died in office in 1881, six and a half months after being shot by an assassin. Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt became the youngest president to assume office after William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. He was, probably, the most famous VP to become the president of the Und States. He assumed office when he was 42 years and 322 days old. The next president to be assassinated was John F Kennedy who was the youngest president ever elected to the office of the president. He was 43 years and 236 days old on the day of assuming the office of the president. Kennedy’s VP, Lyndon Johnson got the dubious honor of taking the oath of office in mid-air aboard Air Force One while returning from Dallas after Kennedy’s assassination. This was resented by Mrs. Kennedy and many of Kennedy’s faithful. Other VPs who became president due to the death of their predecessor were Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge, and Harry Truman.

Of all the VPs who later became president, Gerald Ford’s case was unique. He was an accidental president. Spiro Agnew was Richard Nixon’s VP who pleaded no contest to the charges of bribery and money laundering brought against him and later resigned in disgrace. Ford, who never ran for VP’s office was chosen to become VP to succeed Mr. Agnew. He later became an accidental president after Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace on August 9, 1974.Only John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin van Buren (the first president to be born in the U.S.), Richard Nixon and George Herbert Walker Bush were elected president as direct successors to the president they served under.

The two vice presidential candidates in 2020 are the current VP Mike Pence (Republican) and Senator Kamala Harris (Democrat). Let’s look at their records to help us decide who will be more suitable to succeed their bosses, if elected.”

In 2003, Kamala Harris became the District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco. Among her achievements as District Attorney, Harris started a program that gives first-time drug offenders the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment.” (source govtrack.us)Over the course of her nearly two terms in office, Mrs. Harris won a $25-billion settlement for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis, defended California’s landmark climate change law, protected the Affordable Care Act, helped win marriage equality for all Californians, and prosecuted transnational gangs that trafficked in guns, drugs, and human beings.”

“She became a US Senator in 2017. She was one of eight Democrats to vote against the passage of a trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada that would replace the North American Free-Trade Agreement.

“She supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer bill and Medicare for all. She also proposed a prescription drug plan that would allow setting a fair price no higher than 100 percent of the average price for that drug.

“Harris supports banning hydraulic fracking, but that’s far from her only energy or environment proposal. She co-sponsored a bill to prohibit offshore drilling in federal waters and in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Her first bill introduced as a senator was designed to make sure that people detained by Customs and Border Protection at ports of entry into the United States have access to legal representation.”(source govtrack.us)”Mike Pence was the governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that he served as a U.S. Congressman from 2001 to 2013. As a governor, he initiated the largest tax cut in Indiana’s history. He also signed a bill to restrict abortion”

Pence is pro-life and believes in Christian values. During his tenure as governor, Pence supported significant increases in education funding to pre-schools, voucher programs, and charter schools.”

As a governor, Pence inherited a 2 billion dollars budget deficit. Later he pressed for a balanced budget amendment to the state’s constitution. He is a defender of the Second Amendment and supports NRA.” (Source: In.gov)As a VP, Pence gained foreign policy experience. On February 5, 2017, Pence warned Iran not to test the resolve of the new Trump administration following their ballistic missile tests. Pence made several trips to Asia-Pacific region meeting with North Korean and Japanese leaders in an effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

On February 26, 2020, President Trump named Pence as the leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to combat the spread of the corona virus. Though he has worked relentlessly to combat the virus, the jury is still out on his effectiveness.

As I said earlier, who becomes VP is very important this time. Please give your consideration to this matter and use your judgment.””

Humor: “We Remembered Christopher Columbus” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Christopher Columbus discovered America on October 12, 1492 just like I discovered the United States of America on March 17, 1974. How can anyone discover a place that already exists? Anyway, yesterday was a holiday in honor of Columbus discovering America. For the record, Columbus never actually walked on North American soil; he only went to the Caribbean and Central America.

Regardless, our family and I remembered and honored the memories of Christopher Columbus by lighting Indian Diyas (cotton wicks laced in butter) below his picture and singing devotional songs in his praise. We invited our family priest to sprinkle holy water and rice on Columbus’ picture and asked him to narrate to us the story of Christopher Columbus. This is an Indian tradition. This is how we honor great men and women in our culture.

“We must honor and respect Christopher Columbus. He is the reason we exist on this land today. Had he not discovered this land, we couldn’t have been born or immigrated here,” our priest continued, “Columbus was a great man although he did everything wrong in his life. He was even born in a wrong country. He should have been born in Spain instead of Italy. He Later realized the mistake and corrected the course by first marrying a Portuguese woman and then deciding to move to Spain where he lived with his newly found mistress.”

Columbus wanted to be a spice merchant, but he ended up becoming a slave merchant instead. India was rich in spices, so he set out to go to India after procuring grants from Queen Isabella I of Spain. As a part of his habit, Columbus took a wrong turn and ended up on a wrong continent called the Americas. He was so befuddled that he called the native people Indians.

The New World that Columbus encountered was a wasteland devoid of any spice. Poor Columbus kept on looking for ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. He needed something, at least enough, to fill the kitchen rack of Queen Isabella I back home. Columbus returned home with three boats full of indigenous slaves as he had nothing else to show to the queen.

The queen was preparing a special meal to honor Columbus and needed the spice. Columbus kept on insisting that he had actually found spices, but left the sacks back in India by mistake. So, he was granted another voyage to go back to India and bring the lost sacks of spices. This time Columbus brought a tree bark from Trinidad that looked like cinnamon. He leaked the bark in front of the queen and kept on uttering “yum, yum, yum.” The queen was convinced and sent Columbus on his third voyage.

This time Columbus exterminated the entire population of Hispaniola’s indigenous people by mistreating them and bringing them as slaves to Spain. Those who were left died of European diseases brought about by Columbus and his crew.” The priest, thus, ended his sermon.

In retrospect, Columbus was lucky not to go to India. Sikandar Lodi, then the Sultan of Delhi was moving his capital from Delhi to Agra.  He was looking for a few healthy men as movers. I am pretty sure that Columbus and his crew would have ended up working for the Sultan and would have ended up in the famous mental asylum there.

In the end, all of sang the Oscar winning song “Jai Ho” and feasted on Tacos from Taco Bell, Columbus’ favorite food in the New World. Oh well, It was a nice day. How was your Columbus Day celebration?

Current Affairs: “An Act of Domestic Terrorism” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

The arrest of six members associated with Michigan Militia on October 8, 2020 for alleged conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, attack the capitol building and instigate a civil war is reverberating in all corners of the world. Seven conspirators are accused of attempting to find the home addresses of law enforcement officers to target them and making threats of violence intended to harm them.

Private militias are armed military groups that are composed of private citizens and not recognized by federal or state governments. However, the citizens, except in Wyoming, are not prohibited from forming such groups. Militias have been formed by individuals in America since the colonial period. In fact, the Revolutionary War against England was fought in part by armies comprising of ordinary citizens.

“They’re not ‘militias.’ They’re domestic terrorists endangering and intimidating their fellow Americans. Words matter,” the governor said in a tweet which means that she recognizes the right to form militia as long as they are not involved in terrorist acts. The legitimization of militia is embedded in the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms for self-defense and for rebellion against a tyrannical government. “When a government turns oppressive, private citizens have a duty to insurrect, or take up arms against it.” In this case nothing of the sort happened, so this was a pure act of terrorism.

The Constitution recognizes two kinds of militia:

· The National Guard and Naval Militia

· State Defense Force

The National Guard can be called by the federal government whereas State Defense Force is in total control of the state alone. Although the states of the United States can’t wage war against each other, Ohio and Michigan fought the War of Toledo in 1832 over the border issue.

Issues apart, what happened in Michigan is despicable and frightening. This is not the first time that Michigan Militia has attempted to terrorize us. They were also responsible for the April 19, 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols of Michigan Militia were the main culprits in that incident. We should all recognize the danger of home-grown terrorism and immediately ban and disarm such organization. They shouldn’t be protected by any party as vote banks. It’s time to be safe and civil.

“Accent and the Man” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

After living in the Midwest region of the United States for 47 years (a lifetime), I still have an accent. And who doesn’t? My problem is that my accent doesn’t fit in any of the familiar categories, New England, Pacific Northwest, Southern, Midwestern, Cajun, Hawaiian, Native American or African American.

I have noticed that the way one speaks a language is heavily influenced by his/her first language. I started out with Bihari-Indian accent (Bihar is a state of India) and that still sticks with me. No matter who we are, we all have accent. John Travolta’s accent is different from Tom Cruise’s and Bill Clinton’s is different from Barack Obama’s. So, what’s a standard accent? Like beauty, it’s in the eyes of the beholder (ears of the listener in this case).Yet people frown upon those who sound different than the people living in the region. The most ridiculous case in point is the superior air with which a person, who has spent some time in Boston, looks down upon the average person of the South.

The last time I visited Boston, I had a hard time ordering food through a drive-through speaker. I got so frustrated that I drove to the window and placed my order with the server. She was a Korean woman who had an accent of a different kind. Her ears were tuned to the Bostonian accent though. We couldn’t understand each other. Ultimately, she called the manager who took my order.

When I sat down to eat, I had a momentary flash of annoyance that a person, whose work is to fashion a sandwich from the ingredients in front of her, should have so much trouble following a simple order. Then I realized that, in a country where English is a second language to 67.3 million people and in a city where 25% are foreign-born, it was I, the customer, who should learn to cope with the limited linguistic skill of a low-wage server.

It is well-known that in the US people are discriminated, if they seem to speak with an unfamiliar accent. There is a bias against the non-native accent. This is true everywhere. When I worked in Delhi, India, I was made fun of at work because of my Bihari accent which was not Punjabi sounding. It happens everywhere in the world.

Of course, we want to be understood when we speak. Our intonation of words must bear a reasonable semblance to the expected sound of the words. This has become easier thanks to the internet. You can click on any word in a dictionary and hear the right sound, and you can do so in any major language. But to strive for the correct pronunciation is a far cry from the inane attempt to ape the ‘correct’ accent. However, I’ll keep trying. Who knows? Someday it may just come to me.

“I Can Sense Spirituality in Someone when I See One ” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Very few among us understand the real meaning of spirituality. At least I don’t. Still we use spirituality ambivalently and indeterminately and often mistake it for religious observances and dictum. When it comes to spirituality, we are like “men in the mist.”

Most people equate spirituality with religion. Religion is about dogma whereas spirituality is about thought and behavior. As a matter of fact, spirituality involves belief in higher form of intelligence and consciousness running the universe. I am not trying to imply that religion is void of spirituality, but religion includes a myriad of other topics too that camouflage the true meaning of spirituality and leave it to various interpretations. If in doubt, talk to two different religious scholars and find out what I mean.

According to some in the West, spiritualism is a speculative and subjective term that may mean medium, ghosts, afterlife, healing, heaven, hell, supernatural and mysticism. Spirituality is also considered a separate arm of religion by some that includes communicating with spirits, paranormal power and witchcraft.

According to Hinduism, spirituality is inner purification by transcending ordinary nature and perceptual consciousness to higher states of consciousness. The Buddhists consider spiritualism as the elimination of suffering through enlightened state and understanding of reality. Most scholars all over the world look to either Hinduism or Buddhism when it comes to defining spirituality.

I have not done any critical study of any book on spirituality except for reading “Mandukya Upanishad” on the recommendation of my friend, Dr. Ramesh Patel. Another time my father asked me to read some of the essays written by Aldous Huxley, the British philosopher (1894-1963 AD) when I was a teenager. (My father often asked me to read passages and write their summaries ). I gathered that Mr. Huxley was not much impressed by the prevalent expressions of spirituality, yet believed that through faith one could transcend dogma. He was an agnostic when it came to religion.

Huxley referred to alternative spirituality that believes in transcendental idealism (Later I came to know that Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller were other proponents of transcendental idealism) and combines both the Hindu view of spirituality and Western materialism.

I personally knew a person who died at the age of 99 in 2014. He was a teacher and lived in a village four miles away from the nearest big city where he taught math in a middle school. I’ll call him Mr. Prasad (his real name was Mr. Parmeshwar Prasad). I recall my first glimpse of him when I was around three or four years old and lived in the same village, at the time, as Mr. Prasad did.

Mr. Prasad lived in a house made of mud and bricks. He didn’t have many possessions other than a bike, a flashlight, a pair of shirts and a small plot of farmland . The village used to get totally dart after the dusk. Mr. Prasad would return to the village in the dark riding his bike holding the flashlight in one hand and balancing the bike with another. He used to do private tutoring after the school for additional income that his wife and two children depended on.

Mr. Prasad had a very pleasant mannerism and was loving to all the children of the village that included me. He was always content with what he had and didn’t ever complain about lack of money or amenities. I saw him for the last time in 2013, a few months before he died in sleep. He had retired from his school job, but still continued private tutoring. He still had the same pleasant mannerism that he permeated decades ago.

That made me think about spirituality. I am neither a scholar nor an erudite by any means but I am perceptive and inquisitive by nature.According to my thinking:

· Spirituality is having faith in something beyond the self. That ‘something’ can be God or a higher power.

· Spirituality is being aware of oneself and knowing how the self is connected with the universe and other organisms around us.

· Spirituality is taking fortune and adversities in stride as phenomena of life. In other words, it is performing one’s duties with a smile while coping with challenges in life (performing one’s karma).

· Spirituality is seeking happiness beyond material possessions or other external rewards; having compassion and empathy for others and wanting to make the world a better place.

As you can tell from my writing, my pursuit of spirituality has been sketchy at best. But I can say one thing for sure that I can sense spirituality in someone when I see one. In my opinion, Mr. Prasad was a spiritual person.

Book Review: The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime” is a lesson in management and character authored by Walt Disney Company’s Executive Chairman, Bob Iger.

His business memoir reveals the toughness, risk-taking and agility a successful leader needs to possess even when he or she is on the brink of a meltdown.

“And I tend to approach bad news as a problem that can be worked through and solved, something I have control over rather than something happening to me,” writes Iger.

Iger’s business mantra was guided by Roone Arledge, then the president of ABC Sports and ABC news, who insisted, “Innovate or die.”

Iger got his first position at ABC Television as a studio supervisor at 23 and spent the next 31 years moving through more than 20 different positions at the network. He was named CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005 and was elected its chairman in 2015.

At Disney, Iger was the driving force behind the acquisitions of Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and, more recently, 21st Century Fox. Many of the above acquisitions involved a leap in the dark.

“Don’t be in the business of playing it safe. Be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness,” states Iger in his book.

A leader of the caliber of Iger needs to maintain a strict self-discipline. He rises at 4:15 each morning and works out seven days a week.

Iger’s accounts of deal making are very intriguing. There is a mention of a meeting that took place between Iger and Steve Jobs. Soon after the announcement that Disney had acquired Pixar/Apple, Jobs took Iger on a walk and revealed to him that his cancer had spread to his lever. Jobs was not completely happy with this deal, but Iger was clever enough to woo Jobs directly and became one of his close friends.

Some of his other intriguing deal makings included the agreement for buying Fox over a glass of wine at Rupert Murdoch’s vineyard.

In trying to acquire Marvel, Iger couldn’t track down the company’s elusive leader, Ike Perlmutter.

Iger writes that being and staying positive is one of the most important qualities a leader can have.

“If you walk up and down the hall constantly telling people ‘The sky is falling,’ a sense of doom and gloom will, over time, permeate the company. You can’t communicate pessimism to the people around you. It’s ruinous to morale,” Iger writes.

He says the bottom line is that “no one” wants to follow a pessimist. Optimism is about believing in yourself and your employees’ abilities

As a side note, Iger plans to retire in 2021. Asked about whether he’d run for president in 2024, when he will be 73, he says, “I don’t know that I have it in me.”

Humor: “Talk To Me” Compiled by ‘Musafir’

The confinement caused by Covid-19 has robbed fun from my life to a great extent. I am tired of buying everything online. I miss the personal interaction so much that I decided to visit local stores and chat with the shopkeepers. I was like a shopper without a cause. I went inside our neighborhood drug store. I went right up to the pharmacist who asked me, ““Hi! How can I help you, sir?”

Me: “Yes, I saw on the news that the President Trump was saying that you could treat the outbreak with hydroxychloroquine.”

Pharmacist: “I don’t know what President Trump was talking about. I don’t watch TV.”

Me: “Is there going to be a shortage? What if I can’t get hydroxychloroquine?” I loved pronouncing hydroxychloroquine.

Pharmacist: “Sir, I certainly understand your concern. Please have your doctor state the reason it’s being prescribed. At this time, we have not received word of a shortage, but we are monitoring the situation daily.”

Me: “Oh, thank you! I just heard the president saying it again on TV and now I’m afraid everyone is going to buy it up!”

Pharmacist: “Again, I don’t know what the president is talking about, sir. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Me: “I heard you saying twice that you didn’t know what the president was talking about. I am going to report you to the president. Thank you!”I gave the pharmacist a pack of aspirin and asked him to ring that for me.

Me: “Excuse me, how much are these aspirins?”

Pharmacist: “They’re $4.99, sir.”

Me: “The sign over there says they’re $4.99.”

Pharmacist: “That’s right.”

Me: “They said they’re $4.99 on the radio.”

Pharmacist: “Yes.”Me: “So how much are they?”

Pharmacist: “Four. Ninety. Nine.”

Me: “Well, I just don’t know.”

Pharmacist: “What do you mean, you don’t know?”

Me: “I just can’t be sure how much they are.”

Pharmacist: “Well, if I’m telling you they’re $4.99, the sign is telling you they’re $4.99, and the radio is telling you they’re $4.99, then they’re probably $4.99.”

Me: “Well, you just never know, the liberal media…”

Pharmacist: “Uh, we’re not the media, sir.”

Me: “Well, you just never know the liberal media. It could be one of the Democrat’s sneaky tricks.”

Pharmacist: “We’re not the media, sir. We’re a store and we don’t belong to any party.”

Me: “I just hope President Trump can get rid of you Democrats soon. How much are these aspirins?”

Pharmacist: “…$4.99.”

Me: “Well, I just don’t know. The liberal media. I guess I’ll have to ask someone else.”

I asked the pharmacist to wait while I picked some more stuff.

Pharmacist: “Your total is $35.37 sir.”

Me: “What about my discount?”

Pharmacist: “What discount do you mean, sir?”

Me: “I’m a member here, so I get a 10% discount.”

Pharmacist: “We don’t have a memberships plan for our store. You must have a different store in mind, sir.”

Me: “Listen, I want my discount now!”

Pharmacist: “Sir, we do not have a membership program.

Me: “Trump is in charge now, you know. He’ll round up all profit mongers like you and it can’t happen soon enough.”

Pharmacist: “Sir, please stop harassing me otherwise I’ll have to call the cop.”

Me: “That will be nice. Can you ask for a Republican cop? I don’t trust you Democrats.”

I left the store before the cops could show up. Oh! It felt so good talking to a real human being, after all!

https://twitter.com/i/status/1253474772702429189

A Tale of Two Conventions by Anil Shrivastava

It was a waste of time, it was worth the time, they talked wisdom, they talked foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of make-believe (With apology to Charles Dickens).

“It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” (Charles Dickens)

The above parody and passage should sum up two back to back 2020 conventions of the Democrats and the Republicans not necessarily in the same order. In the following passages I am going to talk about my observations relative to the topics talked about in those conventions. Sorry, I didn’t care much about the glamor and gloom aspects of the two events.

I watch conventions to learn about the candidates’ plans and implementation strategies for the next four years. I don’t succumb to emotional appeals alone nor do I observe the events with colored glasses.

I noticed that plans and strategies were missing to a great length in the speeches made by the Democratic candidates.Unfortunately, the Democrats spent their energy wholeheartedly on President Trump’s follies. We all know that. I didn’t have to spend three hours a day for four days to be educated on President Trump’s character. I am just being honest here. Even the Republican defectors like Gov. Kasich sang to the same choir. They didn’t add any bite to my appetite.

The only person who spoke something substantive was Senator Bernie Sanders. He said, “Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered ‘radical,’ are now mainstream.” There also Mr. Biden appeared sitting on the fence not knowing which side to jump on to. He seemed more interested in playing it safe. As an independent thinker and voter, I was disappointed.

As mentioned above, I watch conventions to learn about candidates’ plans and implementation strategies for the next four years.

The GOP candidates set their vision on creating 10 million new jobs in the next 10 months applying the policies that had created jobs before the pandemic. They aimed to create one million new small businesses.

They’d allow 100% deductions for essential industries like pharmaceuticals and robotics that would bring back manufacturing to the United States. They’d give no federal contracts to companies who’d outsource to China.

They promised to continue empowering women through Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative. They’d establish a permanent manned presence on the moon and land first woman on the lunar surface.

They were specific about having a COVID-19 vaccine by the end Of 2020; lowering healthcare insurance premiums; providing coverage for all preexisting conditions and ending surprise medical billing.

They sounded serious about bringing law and order to American cities and help pass congressional term limits.

They’d bock illegal immigrants from becoming eligible for taxpayer-funded welfare, healthcare, and free college tuition; make deportation for non-citizen gang members mandatory; dismantle human trafficking networks and end sanctuary cities to restore our neighborhoods and protect our families.

They would work on winning the race to 5G and establish a national high-speed wireless Internet network.

They promised to stop endless wars and bring our troops home and get allies to pay their fair share.

The thing that struck me the most was unprecedented black participation in the GOP convention. Included in the roster were Kim Klacik who is running for the late Elijah Cummings’ seat in Baltimore, Herschel Walker, the ex-football player, Vernon Jones, a lifelong Democrat from Georgia, Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina and more. They all applauded the police and condemned the violence. I am in no position to make any prediction, but that will certainly increase the share of black votes in Mr. Trump’s favor beyond 8%.

That was my observation, good, bad or ugly. What was yours?

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“Free God from Religion” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

I usually don’t talk much about God and religion because I find it vague, unintelligible and divisive. I consider myself a man of ordinary intelligence, so clarity is even more important to me, nonetheless, I still try to read religious books and articles in hope of finding some clarity on the subject. Unfortunately, more I read more baffled I become. In the past, I’ve asked several theologians and godmen to explain religion and God to me. Their explanations made me even more frustrated. Oftentimes they appear mysterious, self-conceited and intimidating to me.  

I also feel that God has been hijacked by religion and He must be freed. Sometimes I listen to short lectures by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He doesn’t preach nor does he recite garbled passages from scriptures. He clarifies matters related to spirituality in a layman’s terms. I am not his follower, but his talks make sense to me. According to him, religion is a belief. When we believe in something, we don’t question what we don’t know. Interestingly, according to him, even atheists are religious because they believe in nihility of God. Because they believe in something without questioning and without knowing, that makes them religious.

According to me, the role of religion should be limited to providing guidelines for every situation in life, spreading love and service to humanity and explaining matters related to spirituality to its followers.

Some examples of providing guidelines are five pillars of Islam, ten commandment of Christianity or four yoga(s) mentioned in Hinduism. Above, I have given some random examples to make my point. Religious practices are not limited to those only.

Problem arises when religion takes ownership of God, heaven and hell. In my view it shouldn’t be that way. In that regard, Buddhism is the only religion that doesn’t talk about God. Defining God has created divisiveness, cynicism and fanaticism among fellow human beings. Here are some examples:

The Christians believe Jesus is God, the son of God, the second person of the Trinity. Islam rejects the divinity of Christ. So, it cannot be said that they worship the same God. (Ref: An, Kirlkand. “Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? College Suspends Professor Who Said Yes.” The Washington Post, December 17 2015).

According to Islam, Allah is the only God and Prophet Muhammad is His messenger (shahadah). Does that mean that Allah is different than other gods? No one knows.

The Hindus believe in plurality of gods but they also insist on God’s oneness. So, it can be said that it is both a monotheistic and polytheistic religion depending on who you talk to.

The concept of God should be left to individuals because all prayers go to the same Supreme Being or to the same phenomenon. I am not trying to impose my concept on others; I am simply stating my thoughts here. I worship idol figures out of fear, want and for conforming with the society that I belong to. Many (not all) in other religions do what they do for same reasons.

In my opinion, God is someone or some marvel who creates, preserves and destroys life and matter around and beyond us. That Being or phenomenon is infinite, without any beginning and end, formless, immeasurable, indefatigable, indestructible, all pervasive and inexplicable. That is my viewpoint. The choice should be left to the individual to decide his/her concept of God. In retrospect, Hinduism is the only religion that allows us to do that.