Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Temple And The Restaurant

On one of the Sundays spent lazing around home, we decided to step out...do some window shopping and follow it up with dinner at some fancy restaurant. On our way to the shopping mall, we crossed a famous temple here in our city...feeling extremely pious and virtuous, I decided to take a detour and we ended up in front of the temple...and at the end of a long queue...

Since we had enough time to spare, we....(actually, solely me!) decided to brave the queue, stay and pay a visit to Mr.God as decided...While making our way at a snail like pace through the corridor that went all the way into the temple, I glanced around to see multiple shops set up on both sides. From shops which sold flowers, fruits, incense and other articles to be given as offerings inside the temple to shops that sold good luck charms, beauty accessories and kitchen cutlery, they had it all covered. And if you hadn't been lured by any of these items on sale, at the entrance of the temple...they had tables set up with volunteers who tried to talk you into making donations to the charitable organization they worked for...(Don't get me wrong...I'm all in for making donations for the needy but when I see such commercialized set ups, I'm not sure if it would be put to the right use... )

So if commercialism didn't help fish that money out of devotees' pockets, they made sure that compassion did...and what if they didn't succeed in that either?

Simple...the free entrance into the temple is blocked and the visitors are forced into purchasing tickets in order to enter through a cave like walk through exhibit that has been set up...they claim that this is the only entrance in to the temple...since we didn't know any better, we bought the tickets but realized that they weren't entirely truthful...By the time we got around to finishing our prayers, I wasn't too sure I was feeling spiritual, I think I was rather aggravated. The whole place screamed of commercialization...Instead of the sense of peace and calm that was supposed to set in, it was irritation and annoyance that filled my mind.

Once we got out of the temple swearing never to make a second visit and got into the shopping mall to make a few purchases...I stepped into a popular restaurant to get a drink for myself and noticed that most of the people who served there had speech and hearing impairments. But they didn't look worried or stressed, but in turn looked ready to help. They  served with a smile and were pleasant and amiable...It somehow made me feel better within...I did not feel cheated any more...didn't feel that the world solely ran on money..I felt like there were shreds of humanity left...and that there were people who thought that these guys deserved a chance...The ten minutes I spent inside this restaurant gave me much more peace, satisfaction and happiness than the half hour I had spent inside the temple.

I've heard of a Biblical story of Jesus Christ whipping the money changers in Jerusalem...somehow, when I replayed what had happened at the Temple, it reminded me of this story, and I think I've got a fair idea of what must have been running through his mind. And to see that a place that's been set up to support consumerism is supporting a worthy cause was something that made me feel nice and warm inside.

There are times I wonder where God resides, and this incident just reminds me again that he's found not in palatial complexes made in his name but in the hearts of a few who understand what compassion and charity truly means.

And some day, Dear God, I wish and pray you'd help me be one of those few who knows where to look for you when I need you...

Me.

26 comments:

  1. I wouldn't have made it past the first stall Cat - that is just weird [and I have to say wrong]. I understand the need to financially support a religious institution but to be bombarded and finagled goes against everything I have ever thought.

    I have to agree - you don't need to be in a special building to be close to God/the higher power of choice.

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  2. One phrase that has always stayed with me and says so much is "the church is not a building". You can worship God alone in your bedroom as much as you could in a sanctuary that hold 10,000 people.
    Odie

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  3. oh my - that is terrible! where is this? as i was reading your post (read it twice to make sure i didn't misunderstand the 1st time through), i had a mental image of Christ throwing the money changers out. can you imagine the shocked faces if He were to show up and do it there? that would be a sight to see, for sure.

    you are right about the building; it is NOT the temple. the body is the true temple. the most glamorous place in the world does not necessarily mean that is where Christ resides. the most humble place on earth can be more important and more worthy of His presence.

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  4. I'm not a very religeous person - at least not in the formal sense. I still believe that if you need God, you won't have to look very hard. In fact if you look too hard, you might miss all the help he has sent disguised as ordinary people doing wonderful things.
    I also hate the commercialism that builds up around religeous sites. Last year we visited a monastery and like your experience it was totally ruined by shops selling tacky trinkets.
    I hope you found what you were looking for in the restaurant if not in the temple.

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  5. Where is this place? Remind me to never go there.

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  6. Ah, I've had similar experiences. I was extremely fortunate to travel throughout Europe on a nerd-based-literature-pilgrimage. Things are pitifully commercial, grubby and frighteningly so in Paris. The Eifel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur...there's simply no escaping the aggressive bid for tourist money.

    It's incredibly sad, but at the same time it's because that we (as tourists) are there that it's the way it is.

    Still, the memory of when these places were still sacred remains in the walls. Even if it's only kept alive by imagination, it's better than being forgotten completely :)

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  7. There are so many people who make a living out of religion. When we visit religious sites we realise the irony in what they preach and what they do.

    I liked the contrast you brought out between the restaurant (which is supposedly a consumerist icon) and the temple.

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  8. This is wrong in so many ways. Religion should help people, give them comfort and help them in hard times. But instead they want to take money from people.
    I'm happy that you found peace, satisfaction and happiness in the restaurant, because it's important to find these and it doesn't matter where.

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  9. That Temple place sounds horrendous. Not much spirituality there, I'm afraid. It's a sign of the times, but doesn't make it right. How wonderful though that you found your peace in a retail establishment that obviously has a heart.

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  10. @Steve: Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll definitely come by.

    @SkippyMom: It was never this bad before..I don't think I'm going back there any more.

    @Odie: I completely agree with you.

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  11. @Teresa: So true...I'd have loved to see the look on their faces.

    @Louba: I am spiritual but not exactly religious. I felt so angry because of the way they tried to misguide you into paying money at different counters. It was like you could buy blessings in packets.

    @JM: It's in Bangalore, India. Don't ever bother going there.

    @Jenni: I agree with you.

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  12. @runawaybride: Yeah...it's kind of surprising how they preach one thing and practice just the opposite.

    @Starlight: I agree that it's wrong...just that they don't think it is!!!

    @Thisise: It was indeed horrendous...I have told my acquaintances not to bother going there...

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  13. I think that God knows when you need him most, so he puts the people in your life that enrich it, to make you appreciate every day. :)

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  14. I was raised Catholic but I stopped going to church many years ago. I left for many reasons- but one of the big ones was that I felt like I could not connect to God in the "houses" which were created for that very purpose. The priest at the church I attended in my youth would literally drone on and on in his sermons which always tied into some story about our local football team. And the "community" seemed- by their droning- to be there out of obligation not out of spiritual connection to God. Anyway,what you said about God residing in the " hearts of a few who understand what compassion and charity truly means" is so true. Another well written post :-)

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  15. I am not religious but I enjoyed this post and your take on the situation you found yourself in.

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  16. Really enjoy reading your post and the way you bring the whole topic up.
    So paradox that sometimes we feel more comfortable to befriend and talk with nonreligious person than someone who admit her/himself as a religious person and think she/he is like a saint.Same thing here that you find the restaurant to be more peaceful than in the temple.I agree with what A Cappelli said. I also find myself connecting better with God at home and other place than in church itself most of the time. So..hope that u'll find your own way to find God too..

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  17. @Sally: So true...and such a pleasure...

    @A Cappelli: Thanks...I am spiritual though not really religious...

    @Happy Frog: Thank you... :)

    @M.D: I'm hoping to be able to connect to God at a different place than temple...and I hope I'd be successful.

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  19. I guess no one should be going to that Temple again, but inspite of the warnings people are ready to get fooled again and again.

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  20. @runawaybride:Yeah...they will be....as soon as they hear someone say that your wishes will come true if you pray at some particular temple...they just rush to be there...funny actually!

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  21. I just wanted to pop on over and thanks so much for stopping by my blog and reading my guest post!

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  22. Thanks for visiting my blog. I loved your post. My Church is becoming the same way. I know that they need money, but its getting out of control. Sometimes they'll have three different collections. Most of them are for Church maintenance, flowers, and other things that have nothing to do with helping people.

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  23. blogger is messing up again. it shows that you and colenic have both left me. if it's correct, i'm so sorry to see you go. if it's messed up - well, that's messed up!

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  24. I thought this only happens in some countries(due to poverty and lack of knowlegde).Exploiting the place and people of God for money.



    On an appreciative note,a big thank you to you(caterpillar)for all your comments and contribution.I really appreciate them.

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  25. @a life of color: You're welcome..and thanks for coming by

    @Bothere: seems like it's the same everywhere

    @Teresa: Ain't goin nowhere... :)

    @dailybread09: I guess it happens in most of the places...just that we don't get to know...

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