Lost in the world of idols? | Jose Vazhuthanapilly

We are amidst a number of idols and don’t ever fancy that the good old biblical days when you kneeled before and worshipped that golden cow and the pagan gods. When we begin to create niche for something of the world and consider that as supreme and even above the Almighty, it is idolatry. In other words when you place any other thing above God and get infatuated with that, you become an idolater.

The ‘selfie’ cult

The biggest idol you can think of is you yourself. In the present days we take a selfie   on our mobile and start making self as a hero or heroine. We do spend a lot of money in doing a lot of makeup, facial and manicuring in order to present ourselves in a better manner before public. We know the Greek story of the narcissus .He was a hunter with wonderful physical attributes and extra ordinary beauty. Many dames were naturally attracted to this extraordinary man. But, he rejected all their romantic advances. Then one day he happened to see his own image in a pool of water. He was flabbergasted at the exquisite beauty of his own body, eventually falling in love with his own reflection.

The character of Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, an infatuation or fixation with oneself. This quality, in turn, defines a personality disorder, a condition marked by grandiosity, a vain and excessive need for self admiration. If you are in the habit of worshiping your appearance and beauty and sexual attraction you will at some stage feel you are actually ugly

This in fact is a very dangerous trend. There are people who spend several Crores for plastic surgery and for reacquiring breast shape etc. some go for hormone treatment for enhancing their body parts. All these are very dangerous with well known side effects, and what more in the mad craze you side track your God and abandon all your values to gain these worldly virtues.

“What are you really living for? It’s crucial to realize that you either glorify God, or you glorify something or someone else. You’re always making something look big. If you don’t glorify God when you’re involved in a conflict, you inevitably show that someone or something else rules your heart” says Ken Sande.

We sometimes are engrossed in the boosting up of our ego. We are after fame, respect and recognition.

Love of wealth and possessions

Amassing wealth and possessions is another obsession.  It is in fact a never ending desire for people to accumulate wealth and valuables. You like to have a number of cars parked in front of the house. Some rich people buy yachts and luxury ships to spend the holidays and make merry. Utility is no more a concern for those who can afford; they can construct palatial bungalows with swimming pools and air con in every room. “Gold is worshipped in all climates, without a single temple, and by all classes, without a single hypocrite” says Charles Colton.

If you worship money and material wealth and if that becomes your very foundation of life and real meaning in life, then your thirst that of will become unquenchable and you will continue to live as a dissatisfied person. 

The craze for such things will go on forever.  All these tantamount to actually idol worship. “The Bible does not say money is the root of all evil; it says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. A poor man who, in his heart, worships the idea of being rich is more vulnerable to its evils than a rich man who has a heart to use it all for the Lord.” Says Jami Cris,

Idolization of heroes and great personalities

It was Albert Einstein’s sound advice to us that “Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” But we are living in a society where we make a number of people our heroes. They color and influence our thoughts and sentiments beyond measure. Their opinions matter most. In every juncture and situation we keep high the opinion in our minds. I know a lady in Mumbai who was a great fan of Baba Rajneesh. She would every five minutes quote him ‘Baba had said this Baba had said that’. 

Film actors and actresses have a great influence and impact on the lives of many people and people try to emulate their examples in life, irrespective of knowing what they are in real life. In good old days in Russia a man there got the highest rating .He was called Stalin. And in that period his portrait appeared all across Russia. His statues had come up in various places.

People made loud outcries: “Stalin is the Superstar” .Stalin wall calendars, mementos were prized collections even for those who visited that country, such feverish was the uproar and fanaticism. And we know what has happened thereafter. “Some may be helped by images, some may not. Some require an image outside, others one inside the brain” reminds Swami Vivekananda. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we consider any one in life beyond size and place them on a very high pedestal. It is Ok for us to emulate the good things we see in great personalities, but we should be able to tell ourselves yes this far and no further.

“There are many idols but I would categorize them into three: heroes who are strong enough to lay themselves bare to the people and cowards who hide behind symbols and crafted figures. Then there is one who rules over them. They all love the same thing; praise and adoration. The question is, to whom does the glory belong to, really?” asks Don Santo.

Arun Shouri in his book, ‘Worshipping false Gods’ discusses about B.R. Ambedkar, who is idolized as a great political leader in India.  His statue is one most towering in the Parliament complex. In his book, Arun employs his scholarly rigor to cast a critical and analytic look at the legend of Ambedkar. With his distinctive eye for detail, and his superb writing skills Arun delves into archival records to ask pertinent questions about his role in the freedom struggle with the British and asks questions whether the Constitution spring from his brain or did it grow as a dynamic living organism? Passionately argued and based on a plethora of facts that it presents, he compels us to go behind the myths and miss concepts on which discourse is built in India today.

My intention is not to support the views of Arun Shourie in any manner. But what lessons do we learn here? We have to keep our eyes wide open to weigh things prudently, rather than following blindly someone casting a Halo of glory that may or may not be rightly deserved by them as human beings. 

Internet and smart phones

“The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect.” says the famous Zurich born journalist Esther Dyson. Smart phones have become an almost integral part of human lives. Many people cannot part with the smart phone even for   a short while. The other day I found a priest who came for a prayer meeting who was constantly paying attention to those murmurs from his cell phone. The point is these are idols they worship far above the god sitting in heaven. “Idolatry’ is the practice of seeking the source and provision of what we need either physically or emotionally in someone or something other than the one true God. It is the tragically pathetic attempt to squeeze life out of lifeless forms that cannot help us meet our real needs.”  Says Scott Haffemann in his famous book ‘In the God of promise and the life of faith’

The stuff with which your dreams are made

We all keep some dreams close to our chest. We sleep with them, Wake up with that, and the whole day we think and plan how to fulfill that dream. They are the dreams for which we live. Have you any time tried to list down our hopes and dreams. Where does your mind dwell upon the most of your free time occupying all your attention? What are those accomplishments which are so cherished and giving true meaning to life; which defines your life success? We spend a lot of time energy and money for the fulfillment of these dreams and keep talking about them most of the time.

You can make idols out of anything

We can give our highest affection and worship and attach tremendous glory to anyone or anything worldly. With all these we can make our own niches and place them as idols and all these can become our true loves for ardent worship in our lives. Interestingly, many of these things may not be evil by itself and the question is whether you replace your God and good sense casting these things above God. In our frantic attempt to boost our ego and to satisfy our sexual cravings, fame, comfort, security, approval, power, glory and a whole lot of such things, we tend to outcast the true God and replace it with these idols and the danger starts there! We should be ready to smash up these idols and place God and his love for mankind above anything material and then only his benevolence and blessings can flow abundantly into us.

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Jose VazhuthanapillyBSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 22 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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