Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Violence of Hypocrisy

The minds of human beings have been trained by our current system to recognize only what is superficial and what is physically imminent. Our kindergartens, schools and universities are geared towards “physical survival studies”. Hence we may produce excellent technocrats but poor human beings. Academically brilliant but with poverty of character.

We often speak against the violence of physical wars. True, wars are destructive, cruel and irrational. But what are the real underlying causes? What is it that makes one human readily and nonchalantly murder children, women, and families in broad day light and then – celebrate the killing as a victory of some dubious cause? Have we ever addressed the roots?

To me, it is totally hypocritical to speak of the sanctity of life and yet in same breath destroy it. To a large extent it is also the hypocritical nature of human beings that has been the cause of untold miseries on earth. The refusal of human beings to recognize and manage this nature. For me, the violence of hypocrisy is far more deadly and destructive than the violence of the physical wars. It encompasses the physical violence.

No wonder then that Allah in the Quran denounces the hypocrites as being worse than the disbelievers. The Quran in chapter Al-Baqarah (2) verse 44 says:

Do you enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (to practice it)
yourselves, and yet you study the Scripture? Will you not understand?”

And further, Allah says it is an odious or hateful attitude to say one thing and to do another:

“O you who believe! Why do you speak of that which you do not do? Grievously odious is it in the sight of God that you say that which you do not”. (Quran 61.2 - 3 )

There must be consistency in behavior, speech and judgment. Any consistent inconsistency in the inner world (our selves) is violent and brings forth violence in the outer world.

2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Bible: Matthew 7:2-4 (New International Version)

In religion especially, the sin of hypocrisy is rampant.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Bible: Matthew 23.27-28)

The hypocrite wishes to enjoy the approval of his peers and even the perquisites of a religious office by appearing outwardly moral or religious, while inwardly he is not. Furthermore, when hypocrites rise to high position, they set a bad example for ordinary believers and bring religion itself into disrepute. They also exhibit satanic or demonic qualities and unleash violent miseries. We will see behavior that we cannot reconcile with the merciful or the “rahmah” nature of the Divine being.

“Hypocrisy, arrogance, pride, anger, harshness, and ignorance; these are the marks of those who are born with demonic qualities, O Arjuna.” (Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 16 verse 10)

The Buddha calls him a Brahman whose passion, hatred, pride, arrogance and hypocrisy has fallen like a mustard from the needle.

IF we accept that hypocrisy is an unavoidable human condition, then the problem will be the failure to manage it. We must learn to hate this hypocrisy and prevent it from externalizing itself into miseries for others and violent consequences for the world.

On the other hand, if we accept that hypocrisy is a sickness, then we must cure this deadly virus.


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