So you get people who subscribe to rituals and those who don’t. Those who are wonderful, kind, giving people, and others who aren’t. What defines a good person? Is it their, actions, beliefs, practices? And what does belief mean unless followed by action. And what is an action without informed belief?
Now let’s talk about the forbidden ‘R’ words, religion and ritual. Da da da dum….
Keep in mind, I am a biologist, not a social science student. However, I am an activist, a thinker, and a change-agent, so you know where I’m coming from.
I have thought about the meaning of sacrifice, for a long time of my life. Long ago I came to the conclusion that we as humans should sacrifice our negative qualities and encourage positive, nurturing ones. We should give up lust, greed, etc. This is what is said in Indian philosophy, which is some of the oldest knowledge in the world – which is my choice to follow. But I really cannot fathom why the ritualistic killing animals is something that is done, as a sacrifice. I am not talking about vegetarianism here- That is a whole other topic for another time.
I have known of animals sacrificed in my own culture, within my own communities, and have never been a fan. On the other hand I have always been intrigued and interested in other religions and rituals, and I have a tolerance, respect and appreciation for all faiths. I have had very meaningful conversations with friends and family of many faiths, and I really am so inspired by these moments. They have changed my perception!
In another light, I have questioned numerous things in multiple religions and practices, especially my own. I have come to realise that all the religious texts were written for a certain group of people at a specific point in time. The teachings served the need of these people and taught invaluable lessons that still hold true today. This is the beauty of it. However, I do believe in questioning whether some of the symbolic practices are relevant today. Not everyone believes in this, but I do. And that is why today I wonder, does it really make us better/good humans to sacrifice another being? Irrespective of the way its done, the intention behind it, or the culture you are honouring, is this really the only way?
Does it mean that if a Zulu man does not kill an animal, he is not a man? Does it mean that if a Hindu doesn’t sacrifice a chicken, bad luck will come to them? (I know this is not true, but people do it). Does it mean that if a Muslim does not partake in slaughtering a goat, it makes them less of a Muslim?
I can’t claim to know about all the faiths, but I do understand that these things are done and I see how it has been made mandatory. But I can’t understand how it is vital to being a good person, or to be accepted. Also, accepted by who? By your family, community, religious circle? By God? It just makes me sad to think that the basic notion of killing an animal has something to do with acceptance. And I feel that not many people think about this at all. There is seldom a “Why”- A true prayerful thinking process that gives me reason to do what I do. We are humans with an ability to rationalize, something that is unique to us. Are we using this for the benefit of our planet and our conscience?
I have absolutely no right to tell anyone what to do or not. Anyway, who am I ?!
All I have to say is please, please question these things. Find meaning in it. And think twice before being part of any ritual killing.
Kill the ego, kill the greed, kill the jealousy, kill the bad habits.
Are we even doing this?
If we are not, but are acting to symbolically do so, I reckon we are not the self-righteous, people that we are trying so hard to be.