The Battle Within
The Battle Within
Religion

The Battle Within

MPK Kutty

It was Dr Charles Colson, a Christian author and an accused in the infamous Watergate scandal, who quoting another journalist wrote:

‘ We wait in ambush for the novel that fails, for the poet who commits suicide, for the financier who is a crook, for the politician who slips, for the priest who is discovered to be an adulterer. We live in ambush for them all so that we may gloat at their misfortunes…we feel cheated by our newspapers and magazines if no one is leveled in the dust with them.’ And in this nation, we are never disappointed.

In recent times in our land, many preachers of reputation had come to grief being charged with sins of the flesh. Some of them face serious rape charges. This read in the context of the increasing cases of atrocities against women, has created a wide sense of insecurity. And in its wake, many suggestions have been made to remedy the situation, like death sentence for those involved in molesting girls below 12 years. Could legal measures be the answer to this evil?

We, readers of newspapers, are familiar with the fall of great moral preachers coming to grief after their falling victims to the lust of the flesh. Who is to blame for their fall? In this world we are surrounded by temptations. The man who strives after moral purity has to be watchful against three enemies: the world, the flesh and the Devil. The Bible sums up these temptations as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

One of the verses (James 1: 14, 15) reads: "...each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived , it gives birth to sin, and sin , when it is full grown , brings forth death."

There is amazing unanimity among religions as to the cause of sin : desire. According to Bhagvad Gita 16:2, there are three gates to self-destructive hell: lust, anger and greed. The craving for sense pleasure is blamed in Buddhism for the passion of the flesh.

The Qur’an talks of certain blindness and insensitivity in the offender. It poses a warning…”Have you seen him who makes desire his God , and God sends him astray purposely , and seals up his hearing and heart, and sets on his sight a covering? Who then will lead him after God [has condemned him]? Will you not then heed?”

The Adi Granth of the Sikhs speaks of men being led away bound to do evil, by his desires.

Sin is variously defined. It is violation of law; it is rebellion against God or it is a fall from standards of life. Though some strands of Hindu philosophy recognise 'sin' Shashi Tharoor in his latest book, Why I am a Hindu, avers that "Hindus reject the idea of fear and the idea of sin." (Page 133) He quotes Vivekananda in support.

But when you look around, when you read the daily newspaper or when you hear all the talk about public corruption, you cannot conclude that the human personality is flawed. Writer and author, G K Chesterton affirmed that 'Original sin is the only doctrine that is empirically validated by 2,000 years of human history. What other explanation can be there for the chaos you see around this world of ours which boasts of wisdom, knowledge and technology to visit the stars?

We are a religious people. Religiosity overflows all over--temples, churches, mosques and still we are among the most corrupt people on the face of this earth. Our religiosity is confined to rituals and ceremonies and do not affect the spirit of man, wherein lies the controlling levers of character or the mechanism for making correct choices.

It is the contention in the philosophies of most religions that there is an eternal battle going on within man between good and evil. The flesh, the abode of baser instincts, pulls man into an abyss whereas the spirit, with its noble aspirations, resists such pulls.

“There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us,” wrote Martin Luther King Junior, civil rights activist and a Christian preacher.

Imperfect human nature, with its evil desires, contains the seeds of all forms of corruption. Look again at this description of human nature in the Bible. “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable, there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their ways. And the way of peace they have not known." (Romans 3:10-17)

Though religiosity has increased in our land this has not led to a transformation of the heart –which is the answer to all problems of corruption. It is here the religious leaders should come together and devise ways to work for redemption of man with the tools available with them our civilization will be under threat. Neither education nor law is a defense against the evil proclivities within man. He must be sensitized to fear God and love fellow beings.

This constitutes the best explanation of the presence of evil in our beautiful world created by a loving God. Indeed He has put within man elements of His divine nature. As stated above, the spirit and flesh in a man is in constant confrontation. Only when the spiritual inclinations are strong enough, the fleshly temptations are kept in check.

The late Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, former President had said that wars begin in the minds of men and defenses against wars should be built within. Similarly temptations of the flesh begin within and only transformation of the inner self holds the key.

How to achieve this in a godless and pleasure-driven society is the question.

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