Do people who are afraid go to temples? (PK QA 4)

by January 11, 2015

Could be, but then people who are afraid go to watch PK too. Many people who watch movies seek relief from worry, stress, and tension – all fear by other names. If an activity is to be stopped just because it is done out of fear, then watching PK should also be stopped. Just as people watch movies for many reasons other than fear, people go to temples for many reasons other than fear – reasons that we will discuss in the next answer. Let’s focus on the fear motive here.

The simple undeniable fact about life is that so many things can go wrong at any moment. Such uncertainties naturally worry us. Different people deal with this fear in different ways: for example, by drinking, watching movies or going to temples.

Rather than parodying an activity based on its motive, we need to evaluate it based on its utility, that is, based on whether it serves its purpose.

Does watching movies help people deal with their fears? Not really, except that it helps them forget their fears for a few hours.

Does going to temples help people deal with their fears? At the very least, it offers people what a movie offers – relief from fear. The serene, spiritually vibrant atmosphere of the temple brings peace to people’s minds and hearts, thus helping them forget their worries.

But for the devout going to temples offers so much more. People pray for solutions to their problems and sometimes they do get solutions – not necessarily through a miraculous intervention, but through the arrival in their mind of positive ideas, insights and inspirations. Even if their specific problem is not solved, still the very act of going to the temple and praying often makes them feel reassured. When we share our heart’s anxieties with a loved one, even if that person doesn’t offer any solutions, still the very act of sharing makes us feel lighter, unburdened, strengthened. Similar is the enlivening effect of going to a temple and praying to God. Such enlivenment empowers them to perform better, thereby contributing towards solving the problem.

Some skeptical people might consider such enlivenment illusory. Does that give them the right to caricature religious people’s beliefs? What happened to democracy and the right of all people to their beliefs?

A famous cricketer believed that placing a red handkerchief in his pocket helped him perform better; a batsman believed that kissing his bat each time before facing the bowler improved his batting. If we don’t lampoon such superstitious idiosyncrasies, then why do we consider it fair game to lampoon something – going to temples – that has offered relief and strength to millions for millennia?


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