I REFER to the letter "Heed the good that religion teaches us" by R.I Rudy (NST, June 1).
He stated that people throng mosques, temples and other places of worship to show their devotion to religion. But as it seems to be with so many things we do, they just stop there.
Once an emperor was accompanied by a great guru to prayers. When the emperor prayed, the guru, who sat at the back, laughed loudly. The laughter annoyed the emperor. Later, the emperor asked the guru why he had laughed.
The guru replied: "Before you came here, several horses were sent to you by a king. You have great liking for horses. Although you were praying here, your thoughts were on the horses. Is this not true?" The emperor admitted it and realised he could never change for the better if his mind was never on God during prayers.
The letter further stated: "The social degradation we observe is indeed a poor reflection of all the devotion and religiosity we show."
What is devotion? Does running to places of worship and praying with pomp amount to devotion? Many pray for more money, property, promotions, power, position, a good wife and others. In fact some have made worship into a business proposition.
This is common as we have become slaves to our desires. We have become artificial and crooked. Money has become our salvation and in that process we ignore the teachings of our religions.
When Alexander the Great was dying, he told his generals to take his body out and expose his empty hands as a sign that although he was a great conqueror, he was dying empty handed. Did mankind learn from Alexander's lesson? Man can forget God but he can never forget money.
We have become masters of science and the scriptures, yet we have not conquered our desires. Fear of sin has vanished. Every day we witness wicked deeds spreading all over the world. What is the cause of this? Love is dying. We have become walking cemeteries. Sin is nothing.
The world is lacking in human values. We become fascinated by the false and ignore the truth. We do not discriminate between what is good and bad. We consider ourselves great when we are decorated with degrees and scholarship and look down upon others. Some even question if God really exists after acquiring a little bit of knowledge.
There is no harmony in thought, word and deed. We hate others. We do not look into our own defects but consider a small defect in others as gigantic. We do not look inside ourselves. Our actions are determined by our thoughts. At the moment our mind is infested with bad thoughts, all of our actions will be bad.
Man is becoming a zero. When we are zeroes, we are nothing. When man realises that the Almighty is watching us, and we surrender and follow His instructions, only then do we have value, for no matter how many zeros there are, they are still valueless without the number one at the front.
Only when we are truly devoted to the Almighty, can we change and prevent social degradation. Then again, what is devotion?
Ariff Shah R.K, Penang New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 13 June 2013