We humans like to look at ourselves as the smartest species on planet earth. We are also the only species that has the unique distinction of being able to deceive itself completely. Why do we deceive ourselves you may wonder? To me this appears because of our need for a sense of justice, a need for a warm, fuzzy feeling and also possibly due to a little bit of narcissism.
Here are some common deceptions
The Myth of Karma & Sin: Karma & sin is a myth that has been propagated since time immemorial. Hindus believe, good begets good and evil begets evil and also that these consequences are the result of the working of karma. The theory of karma assumes that one’s good actions result in good providence and the evil that one does returns to destroy the doer. Similarly other faiths have the concept of sin and virtue. In these faiths sin results in punishment and virtue results in a safe voyage to heaven. There is no real evidence to support that punishment or reward for evil or good acts actually exists. There are many in this world of ours who go about their wanton ways yet live a full and carefree life. Then, there are others who go through a tough righteous path and live a life of hardships. Regardless, many of us have a value system because transgressions from the virtuous path can result in an unsettled and troubled conscience.
Though the laws of karma and sin are creations of the mind, they are really necessary to maintain the law and order of world. Without karma and the fear of retribution there would be anarchy and chaos in the world.
The fact that karma and sin are possible deceptions of the mind does not in any way justify evil or heinous acts. We must follow a virtuous path simply because it is the right thing to do. We should be governed by the maxim “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
The Myth of the Afterlife: Almost all the major religions believe in life after death. Why do we do this? There are 2 main reasons. Death is an inevitable part of human life. Since we do not like to lose a dear one, we like to think that our loved ones continue to exist in another dimension. This allows us to bear the loss of a dear one.
The other reason is that we don’t like the finality of death. Different religions treat afterlife differently. Some religions believe in re-incarnation where we shed our body, after death, and transmigrate into another body. Other religions believe in a hell where the dead person is tortured for their evil deeds and a heaven where they are rewarded. The punishment or reward follows from the mortal deeds in an earthly life. As mentioned before, without the reward and retribution theory there would be chaos on earth. But there is again no real proof of such an afterlife.
Some people claim to be able to recall incidents from their past life, Also there are others who have had ‘near-death’ experiences who claim to have seen a ‘white, brilliant’ light. However this does not substantiate the existence of re-incarnation, heaven-hell or an afterlife.
In my opinion, there is nothing beyond death. We come to this world; we live and then cease to exist. There is nothing after death. Man has been on earth for a few million years. With a few 100 thousand generations before us heaven and hell would be pretty crowded by now.
Though there is nothing beyond this mortal life there is nothing wrong in trying to leave a legacy behind for future generations. This is not for any narcissistic reason but to prolong the ‘doing unto others as we would like to have done to us’ even after death.
These theories and beliefs were acceptable millennia ago when our understanding was primitive. But with the advances of science and our knowledge of the universe we need to relook at our beliefs. We may need to modify our beliefs with the changing times. We need to shed some of our old beliefs.
However, this does not in any way preclude us leading a virtuous and a value filled life.