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General Why the need for self identity and symbolism?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Embers, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. Embers

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    Aug 10, 2009
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    Why, philosophically speaking, is our mind so attracted to symbolism and a need for some form of self identity?

    This attraction (perhaps it is a desire) is very strong and we can read stories daily where a person lived and died in respect to their self identity and symbolism despite having deep conviction in God.

    Is it our desire to be someone? Is it our insecurity in a diverse world or something else? The question is why are we so attracted to finding and claiming a self identity?
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    I appreciate your beginning this very interesting discussion;)
  4. AusDesi

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    Jul 18, 2009
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    Religion needs symbolism. Without symbolism A religion cannot develop. Same with Rituals and Miracles. Every religion needs them.

    In terms of Rituals, I am taking the literal form of ritual. As in an activity that is necessary for any religion.

    Every religion in the world has symbolism. Followers and Enemies of every religion use and misuse symbolism. Even some followers misuse symbolism.

    e.g. Alot of you might know the type. I like to call them the One K sikhs. The one who wear a Kara, have short cropped hair, think punjabi music is the best thing since Dal Makhni, ride hotted up cars and have the Khanda on as many items as possible.

    Same goes for other religions. Hindus wear fat gold studded rudraksh mala yet use the service of prostitutes. Christians who wear a big cross yet do everything against Christianity and so on.
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  5. Ozarks

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    Jun 20, 2009
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    AusDesi Ji,
    If I may quote you to begin my post...

    "Religion needs symbolism. Without symbolism A religion cannot develop. Same with Rituals and Miracles. Every religion needs them."

    A religion is a reflection, or symbol, of the truth that the founder(s) laid out for those who would follow. A religion need symbols for two reasons.
    1) for identity
    2) for control of that identity
    Followers my need the symbols two other reasons.
    A) a physical reminder of their faith
    B) for a sense of belonging to that faith

    Now while it seems that reason 1 and B are related, I'm not so sure they are. Reason 1 is divisive in nature and is reflected in reason 2. The primary difference in 1 and 2 is the target. 1 it is other beliefs (outsiders), 2 it is followers of that belief that sees things differently (insiders). These are issue of control and organization. The way B is different is that it is a sense of belonging. A sense of fellowship and simply not being alone. A is a comfort. Perhaps a reminder of certain beliefs and even a tie to B that in whatever situation you find yourself in; you are not alone.

    Guru Nanak did not have a religion.
    Gautama Buddha did not have a religion.
    They had faith. Not a faith born from belief or symbols, but of conviction.

    I can see a point when one may go beyond religion which was as a way-post on their journey and fully embrace jivan-mukta.
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  6. vsgrewal48895

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    Mar 12, 2009
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    There is only one Faith/Dharma of righteousness on this earth – to truthfully obey the Eternal Laws of Mother Nature/Divine Will. This should become an individual's internal "law," to which obedience must be given if he aspires to live in accordance with the Absolute Creative Principle of Truth. Guru Nanak ponders about it in Raag Basant;

    Read the rest of the article at this link:
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    #5 vsgrewal48895, Sep 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2009
  7. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jun 30, 2004
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    Ozark ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Well put. I agree with everything except one which is in bold.

    Faith can change anytime. One can lose faith in anything with a blink of an eye, hence faith can not build conviction. Only cultivation of pragmatism can breed conviction.

    That is the reason Sikhi is a way of life rather than a belief system or a faith, hence, based on pragmatism which is the seed of conviction.

    Tejwant Singh
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  8. harbansj24

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    Feb 19, 2007
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    I would not like to add anything to the article posted by Neautral Singh Ji way back on 18th Feb 2005

    Bhai Vir Singh Ji's letter to an Apostate Published by Neutral Singh
    Bhai Vir Singh Ji's letter to an Apostate
    During Bhai Vir Singh's time (1872-1957), a Sikh youth settled abroad, sheared his hair and sent his photograph bearing a solar hat to his parents with a justification that one should change according to necessity of life and circumstances.

    The parents, who were greatly perturbed, approached Bhai Sahib for help.

    Bhai Sahib was known to have brought the famous intellectual Prof. Puran Singh back to Sikhism from Buddhism. The letter which Bhai Sahib wrote in Punjabi to the apostate is given below:

    "Respected Sardar Sahib,

    We are greatly surprised and disturbed to read your letter. Bowing against one's faith and form is the result of slavish mentality, which had been caused by our continuous subjugation under foreign rulers.

    Guru Nanak embarked to take this weakness out of us.

    In spite of utmost regards for the wishes of his respected parents and elders to remain at home to look after them and his young family, he preferred to go out on his hazardous mission of world-emancipation.

    He did not accept superstition, and demonstrated the omnipresence of God in all directions. He did not bow to Kauda rakshas, but sat in his cauldron filled with boiling oil.

    Guru Angad boldly faced Emperor Hamayun's drawn sword, and reminded him of his cowardliness in front of Sher Shah Suri.

    Guru Amar Das did not agree to comply with Emperor Akbar's instructions to preach Hindu mode of worship.

    Guru Arjun did not include Prophet Mohammed's praise in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, but faced death and severe tortures inflicted on him by Emperor Jahangir.

    Guru Hargobind refused to part with Emperor Shahjahan's falcon which fell into the hands of his Sikhs, but fought a battle at Amritsar which he won to assert the rule of game.

    Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa and taught them to stand on their ideals, to fight injustice and oppression and never to give in. He blessed his Khalsa with a dominating personality and strong character which does not bow to any physical, mental or moral weakness.

    Bhai Taru Singh had asked his executioner to remove his scalp along with hair rather than cut his hair.

    Bhai Mani Singh preferred to have his limbs cut to pieces to save his hair. Other martyrs like Bhai Shubag Singh did not abjure their faith.

    The British ruled India for three centuries, but they never wore Indian dress.

    We, the Indians, due to slavish mentality, started wearing Pathans' dress during their rules, and adopted European dress during the British regime.

    Our Gurus taught us to remain firm to our convictions and resolve. This spirit of independence which they inculcated helped the Sikhs to establish an empire in Northern India.

    Hair is our uniform, our identity and symbol of devotion and dedication to our Gurus. Hair with a turban bestows sardari. Guru Gobind Singh had made the Sikhs as lions (Singhs). Do not lose this privilege and identity, and do not break your relationship with the Gurus. Please grow your hair and come to meet us in your original form to gladden our hearts."

    On receiving this letter, the Sardar returned to his original form and faith.

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