Shrink's Views

ramblings of an unknown psychiatrist

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Conversion Confusion: a story

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on February 1, 2011

“Get the right mix before you get paint from your pallet to the paper”, I tell my students. This principle in watercolor painting applies to life as well. You may not be able to fully correct the things that you do in your life. Your acts always leave a mark behind. My days as a drug addict have left an indelible mark in my life. I am now clean. I search for meaning in my life teaching watercolor art to enthusiasts. I help them bring out their selves in their art. Letting others bring their thoughts and feelings emerge in colors, fuels me to live. My workshops are not expensive. So, I tour different countries, click photographs of subjects of my interest, convert them into paintings and sell those to cover my living expenses. This year I went to the incredible India.

India is too old, large and diverse for just an artist like me to understand in a month’s time. I stood amazed looking at the contrasts and the range of shades existing in India. After I landed in New Delhi, I went around in an auto rickshaw clicking photographs of the urban landscape. New Delhi had wide roads, big hotels, shopping malls that I never expected. When I traveled through their metro train, I saw silence. Passengers were all busy in their private world listening to their ipods or reading their newspaper. Globalized India has become so individualized and privatized like the west.

I randomly went to one of the lesser developed Indian states, after a week in New Delhi. I stayed in a small hotel in the corner room on the first floor. It provided good lighting for me to work on. I wanted to go into the villages nearby to shoot photographs. I needed help of someone to act as a guide. A large majority do not understand English in this part of the country. I found a man, in a tea shop. He helped me find some tourist spots nearby. I chartered a cab and visited those sites. On Saturday evening I met the same person again. I asked him if he could accompany me to some villages nearby to facilitate taking few photographs. He agreed to come the next day after 11 am. He gave me his home address.

I went to his house at 11 am. His family had come back from the Church. I had left the Church as a teenager. It was difficult for me to do it having come from a family of Lutheran ministers for five generations. I had to be faithful to my conviction. I could not believe in creation, virgin birth or resurrection. How could I stand the mumbo-jumbo of prayer and worship? I am happy in my atheistic existentialism, but I was happy to see this family happily engaged with religion.

We drank tea as he prepared to leave. The tea was served with warmth that was typical of eastern hospitality. His wife was dressed in sari, as any typical Indian woman of this region. His parents too looked no different. The only Christian marks of the house were a cross on the wall and a well used black Bible placed over the television set. I asked him for how many generations they had been Christians. I have always heard that religion is inherited in the east. He said he would share that story as we travel. I noted that New Delhi was secular and westernized, but this home was Christian and culturally very eastern.

He had a moped. It was good for rural roads. I offered to pay for four liters of petrol. It was a much more than needed for our travel, but I felt it would be good to give a small gift this way as he never asked to be paid for as a guide. As we travelled to the villages nearby, he told me his story.

His name is Harish. He works with an indigenous NGO. He lives with his wife, two daughters and his aged parents. He was from a Hindu family. From his childhood days he was interested in spiritual things. His father encouraged him to meet the holy men who frequented his village. Harish had few questions come to his mind time and again, “What is the truth? What is the way? What is life?” He attended many bhajans and meetings. He asked these questions to many holy men. They never answered him to his satisfaction. When he was 13 he told a sadhu, “If you are unaware of this yourself, how then can you guide us?” The sage blew up in rage. His disciples cooled him down. After all it was a village kid full of ignorance.

Few months later, Harish found a tract on a bus. It said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It was a statement made by Jesus Christ. His answer was found. Harish found his guru – Jesus Christ. When he announced that he became a disciple of Jesus, his father threw him out of the house. He was just 14 years old. His school teacher took pity on his condition and allowed him to stay in the verandah of his house. Harish did odd jobs for his teacher in return for the benevolence received. After he finished his tenth grade, he started giving tuitions for small children. With the money he earned, he managed an independent living. When he completed his M.Com degree, he joined an International NGO as an accountant.

Harish was a self made man. I feel so small, when I compare my life with his. In childhood he was searching for God and I ran away from God. In his teens he educated and fed himself shedding his sweat. I was addicted to drugs and was stealing to feed my habit. There was a strong, stable and intelligent man in the short, brown man that I saw. My respect for him grew within minutes.

I wondered how his Hindu family, which had opposed him, became Christian now. He told me the story after my enquiry. He said his father was a successful tantric, a black magician. People came to him for all sorts of problems. He enjoyed reputation in that region. He also had become an alcoholic. Harish’s mother fasted and prayed to all the goddesses she knew to change her husband’s alcoholism. Nothing worked.

One day Harish met his mother near the village’s water tank and told her to pray to Jesus and see the result. She followed her son’s advice. In a couple of days his father started encountering recurrent failures. So much so that even he was shocked. It was as if his power had come down. Harish’s mom advised her husband to turn to Jesus. When he prayed in Jesus’s name miracles happened. He stopped alcohol and became a Christian. These miracles became so famous that every Sunday around 40 people gathered in their house for prayer.

I could not believe my ears. All this is happening in 21st Century. I was so engrossed; I totally forgot to click photographs. I do not know how many good subjects I missed. The fact is I don’t care for it. What does that matter in comparison to a real life story like this? “How far from the town is your village?” I asked. He showed me a banyan tree few yards away and said his village was just five kilometers away towards the right. I made a suggestion to visit his village. He smiled and turned towards his village. It was a right turn in every sense.

He continued the story as he rode. His father had a property right adjacent to the road which led to the village. He wanted to construct a small house there so that they could pray and worship with people from nearby villages as well. The construction work began. By then, Harish had reunited with his family. He financed the construction as he was paid a handsome salary in the international NGO he worked with.

I noticed the approaching village as I could see a couple of houses about 100 meters away amidst the vast paddy fields. He slowed down and parked the moped at the first house. I could see from afar that the construction is incomplete. I walked closer and saw that nothing was done properly. The work had been abandoned for sometime. I could see dried cow dung in areas which were supposed to be indoors.

Aghast, I asked “Harish, what happened?” He smiled and said, “Our villagers were not happy with us praying to Jesus. They saw the miracles happening. They saw the transformation in my father. They did not want it for themselves. They felt we were converting people to Christianity. A political party and its outfits organized a mob of 500 people to come to our village. I had gone to the town on that Sunday. They demanded my father to forsake Christ and purify himself with drinking urine of a cow. When he rejected, they beat him up and forcibly fed him cow’s urine mixed with cow dung. My sister and mother went to his rescue and lay on him to shield him from blows from lathis. They did not want to injure women. So, they stopped. They left after they threatened to kill him if he was found praying to Jesus in the village again.”

I was shocked. He continued, “My NGO did not support me when I wanted to take legal action against those who were behind the attack. They made me feel alienated inside my organization. They were afraid that their proximity with me might harm them. I resigned as I felt my team did not connect with me the way I expected. I had worked with a vision. I was not working for a salary. In joined this indigenous NGO which pays me lesser than 20 percent of what I had earned earlier. It is difficult to make ends meet, but I am lot happier at work.”

It is the persecution that made his parents move away to the town. I asked him if I could visit the place where they were living. He started the moped with a smile. I noticed that the foundation of new building was made but there were no metal supports for the pillars to be raised. When I pointed it to him, he said, “They sawed the rods at the base. The foundation now is useless. If I have to build here again, I have to break this foundation and lay it up again.” They made everything useless with just few strikes of a hacksaw. They were not an impulsive mob. They were men with a clear agenda- to spoil the dreams and lives of fellow men because they practiced a different religion.

When I saw his house I was even more shocked. It was a hut with mud walls and roof thatched with hay. The hut they lived in was epitome of weakness, their lives showed strength. How can people who live low like this have strength to sacrifice even this? Why should someone feel upset with faith of someone who lives in a hut? They did not possess any assets worthy enough to attract jealousy.

I clicked few more photographs and then decided it was too much for me to take. He understood me and took me back to my hotel. On the way back we hardly spoke, but the noise in my mind was deafening. As we neared the town I asked him, what he foresaw in the future. He said, “I hope to complete construction of the building that we had started. I hope it becomes a Church. I don’t have resources now. We pray everyday that God would do it in our lifetime.”

I did not go for any more trips after that. I painted from the photos that I had shot. In 20 days I completed about 25 paintings. This would suffice for my travel and next year’s expenses. I could not get Harish out of my mind. As I board the flight and leave today, I wondered if he got his mix right when he plunged into belief. His life has never been the same. He has lost much. He has suffered much. Things have not settled down well even now. He does not have regrets.

I do not know where these religious people get their strength from. I could understand that the popular explanation to explain conversion in terms of monetary or social benefits is reductionist and foolish. Harish is a living example. I only wish there was a God who really heard prayers. I wish he heard these people who believe in him. If he exists and does make mansions above for men, I am sure Harish and his family would have a fine one.

Bhajans-devotional songs

Sadhu- a holy man

Dedication:

This story is inspired by real life events involving persecution of Christians in India. This story is dedicated to countless people who suffer persecution because of their religious identity.

 

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Posted in christian, distress, fiction, indian society, religion, social, stigma | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Pehle Hum Hindustani Hain: a poem

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on September 29, 2010

Background:

India awaits the judgment on Ayodhya’s controversial site on 30th September. Apparently the Moghul Emperor Babar demolished a temple and built a mosque. Fundamentalist Hindus demolished the mosque in 1992 wanting to erect a Ram temple in the site. Both parties Hindus and Muslims stake claim to the historical site wanting the structure of their choice to be erected there.

Do ordinary Hindus or Muslims have any stake in this decision and what comes after it? This poem is written from the perspective of Ali, a muslim Riskshaw puller. It also echoes sentiments of his childhood Hindu friend Shyam. Having lost close relatives in communal violence, both realize that more than religious identity what binds people together is basic needs or rather the lack of it. The poem ends with a patriotic note that Indian identity comes prior to all other identities of religion, caste, language and class.

Pehle hum Hindustani Hain

main hoon Ali, mera dost hai Shyam,

main Musalman, uska devta hai Ram,

Ayodhya mein hamara janam hua,

vahin par ham donon bade hue.

 

hamari yaari itni pakki thi,

log iski kasam khate the.

kisi ko agar kuch cahiye hota,

turant madat pahunch jata tha.

 

Hindu log jab Babri mazjid tode,

charon oor dange fasaad shuru hue.

Shyam ke saale ne mere bhai ko mara,

jis bhai ko maine bachpan se pala.

 

mere bête ne aatank machane ki tani,

bahana chaha khoon jaise ki pani.

Bomb banana kisi ne use sikhaya,

haivaniyat ka kharab rasta dikhaya.

 

Bomb ki durgatna mein bête ka haat kat gaya,

dange fasaad mein he Shyam ka saala mit gaya.

sab kuch lutakar, main aaj bhi hoon ek riskshawala,

mera yaar shyam bhi hai, ek sadharan paan wala.

 

kal mandir bane ya masjid bane,

kisi ko kya fark padta hai.

mere aur Shyam ki kaun sune,

dangon ke baad, zindgi sadta hai.

 

ho sakta hai ki kaum hamara chahta ho,

vahan Mandir ke badle masjid ho.

usi prakar shyam ka jo sangh hai,

manta hai ki Ram mandir he tik hai.

 

mandir se ya masjid se,

kya kisi ki pet bharta hai?

jise tand se kampan hota hai,

kya ent patharon ko od pata hai?

jiske ghar par chat nahin,

aaradhna ka jagah, vo chahe kahin?

 

hindu ho ya musalman, sabko yahi chahiye,

Ram ya Raheem ke pehle, Roti hame chahiye,

Mandir ya Masjid ke pehle, Makan hame chahiye,

Kafan our Kabr ke pehle, Kapde hame chahiye.

 

Jaanta hoon main aaj bhi ki,

Shyam ke vichar mujhse bhinn nahin.

Dharam, jaat, bhasha, varg halanki alag ho,

Pehle hum hindustani hain, Yahi baat hai sahi.

*****

Posted in distress, fiction, HINDI, indian society, poetry, religion, social | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Hell’s View on Mind, Mentally Ill and Mental Illness: Satan writes to Screwtape

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on August 31, 2010

Prologue:

The Screwtape Letters is a Christian apologetics novel written in epistolary style by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942. The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as “the Patient”.

One must know this background to understand the following post. The following is a letter written to Screwtape by the father below Satan himself. It addresses issues of the mental illness and mind.

Letter:

Depths of Hell

21st Century. Year of the Enemy

Dear Screwtape,

I bring greetings from the depths of our eternal home. I have heard of your progress from your junior aid Wormwood. He gave me the news that you have been active in trying to understand and use the interface of spiritual and mental realms for our purpose.

I must warn you of the dire consequences of making yourself too obvious. Our success lies in our subtlety. You know it clearly that the ones who are obsessed with us and the ones who do not even believe in our existence are not our threat. In fact they are safe in our hands. I use the word safe only for sarcasm. You know the truth that they are actually unsafe in our hands 🙂

Many of our Enemy’s children are slowly coming into our camp. They are quite obsessed with us. Many of them do not even realize it. They know us. They can drive us out of our subjects with the authority of the Enemy. What is good for us is that they see us in everything. What our Enemy intended for them is to know Him more deeply. We can keep them preoccupied with us and distract them from Him. We can make them hate us more, thus filling their heart with more hatred. This distracts them from showing love for their brothers through their actions.

I see you have done a good job in the area of mental ill-health. Of course, I cannot credit you with making people mentally ill. I know some of this is beyond our capacity. We can only hurt those subjects as much as we are allowed by the enemy. You have quite nicely convinced many that mental illness is caused by us. It is a great lie. I love it. It is useful in quite a number of ways.

One, it keeps people in search of a magical-spiritual cure, which we can use for drawing them closer to us by involving them in rituals that are not pleasing to Him. Secondly, this preoccupation helps them keep away from medical attention. This makes the subject live in a psychotic state, away from reality. This makes him lose contact with the world that the enemy has created and makes them live in a world of lies. Remember our job is to steal, kill and destroy. We steal, kill and destroy the time of our subjects through this.

When we encounter any illness, we can use it for our purpose. We can use mental illness, even more. Our weapon of lies is very powerful. You are using it well. People fear mentally ill. They think that mentally ill subjects are violent and dangerous. Those of them who fear us also think we are causing these patients to do their behaviors. What a joke! We can laugh at this even in hell! The subjects who seem to be walking around normally and living their life successfully could probably be much more in our control. In fact they could be much more dangerous than subjects with mental illness.

We must realize that every bad thing that happens to His children is a good thing-gone wrong. For example when a man works hard in his business, he is doing what our enemy intended him to do i.e. to provide for his family and share with others. This good can be made to be bad when he works hard to make more and more money to the point of neglecting his family. It can be made to be bad in another way, when he earns for his family only and does not give out to anybody else. I am sure you have been using these distraction tactics to deviate our Enemy’s children.

Basically evil is qualitatively only slightly different from what is good. It is at times quantitatively only a changed proportion. Now why do I say this, we cannot take credit for the evil in the world too. We have not created it from anything. Evil is only the deviation from what our enemy meant in this world. We love it though.

If a person takes cocaine, he will get a high. Cocaine works in his brain and alters the chemicals in different areas. If a person takes Diazepam, he will get sleep, as Diazepam acts on certain areas in the brain which induce sleep. Did you or I create these substances? No! Can you or I control that effect? No! It is bound to happen in a world created by our enemy. In fact all of the day to day functions are regulated by chemicals in the body.

Our enemy has created certain chemicals, when present in right quantities make subjects happy. If these are not present in right quantities or if their proportions deviate then the subject loses his happiness and become depressed. If this is severe he may become suicidal and may even end his life. We love imbalance. We want his subjects to die if they are depressed. We can rejoice in death of a human subject, but we do not earn points. What extra have we done? It may be more like a person with cardiac failure dying with a cardiac arrest. Would I give you any points for it? Absolutely not!

These guys with mental illness lose capacity. Even the earthly Courts of Law give them some immunity by considering them not criminally responsible if they were to do a murder under specific circumstances. Our Enemy loves them much more. How much more he would be gracious towards these mentally ill on the day of judgment!  These people might get away with much of what they do due to their illness. Remember to not take credit for what bad happens to them and do not feel happy when they do something bad.

Mind is a good playground for us to demonstrate our skills. You and I cannot know exactly what our subjects are thinking in their mind, but we can input thoughts in their mind. I am not speaking of the thought insertion seen in what the humans call Schizophrenia or the intrusive thoughts seen in what they call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These phenomena as I said earlier are not out doing. If I hear of you take any credit for this kind of phenomena seen in your assigned subjects, you would be demoted in the hierarchy of Hell.

What you would be given credit for is, when you can instill a normal human with automatic negative thoughts. By this you trigger a volley of negative thoughts. These affect the subject’s mood making him anxious, angry, bitter or depressed. I agree that this is more pronounced when he is mentally ill. You would get no points for that. You would score if you use this on normal people, happy people, loving people, and obedient people and successfully make them lose contact with what our enemy intended them to keep in touch with, by painting a darker picture of reality even if it lasts for a short while. I would be happy if you could do this long enough to make thought patterns freeze. They should ultimately submit and react to thoughts that arise in the minds without questioning it rationally. This would ensure the subject’s drift away from the Enemy.

By the way I liked your letters to Wormwood. I have asked new recruits and slow learners to read the letters to improve their performance. Wishing you all the very best in accomplishing our task.

Hail Me!

Your Father below,

Satan

Posted in christian, depression, fiction, humour, OCD, philosophy, psychiatry, religion, schizophrenia, science, spiritual, stigma | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Lover or Prostitute?

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on November 1, 2009

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship;

it moved to Greece and became a philosophy;

it moved to Italy and became an institution;

it moved to Europe and became a culture;

it came to America and became an enterprise.

Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly.

Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” The room went dead silent.

For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class. Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.”

The Church today, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ—that’ s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?” For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him?

Please understand– -I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.

Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we—lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us.

(Dr David Ryser)

Posted in christian, devotional, love, religion, spiritual | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »