In Indian cultures, temples and gods play a significant part – almost sacred. My parents are visiting us. And to play it safe and not incur the wrath of angry gods, we decided to make at least one visit to a temple so that we were covered. We went to the New Vrindavan, Golden Palace, in West Virginia.

Image of the Golden Temple

I will admit it has been a while since I have been to a temple – since I gave up on idol worship a long time ago. So, visiting this temple brought back old memories of being forced to do something. The temple is lovely and magnificent. What I am talking about is my mental models. At the temple, there was a ‘Puja’ – a religious offering to the gods at noon. We went to the temple at the same time, so we stayed around for it. Men and women were asked to stand in separate lines. The priest instructed that he would repeat the chanting, and we could repeat it afterwards. As I was standing amongst other people repeating the chanting – I found myself not chanting to rebel.

As a child, I remember the conflict when being forced to go to the temple – the desire to do what I wanted vs the fear of not following what was considered ‘right’. I have shifted across all spectrums – forcibly going to the temple – fervently praying to the gods – being indifferent to the temple visits.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have felt any different if I was not forced to go to temples in the first place. This brings me to the recent conversation about working from the office vs working from home. We have flexibility because it is up to us to determine where we want to work from. And I actually like going into the office because I like the interactions. But, if this were forced on us, I would have resented going to the office.

For some of us – this rebelling is inbuilt. It’s like we live in a world where the rules are a choice you exercise. The rules are more like guidelines – you follow them when they suit your needs. But, for some of us, rules are THE way – there is nothing that exists outside the rules. There is no right or wrong but just a different way to view things. It is not about having a higher ethical or moral bar but different playing rules. It also indicates how seriously you take life, society, and peers around you. If you believe in what people tell you, you have bought into their way of life – but if you see it as a guideline, you have experienced life beyond the rules.

Quote from Dalai Lama – Know the rules well so that you can break them effectively

Have you ever wondered why we do the things we do? Like going into the office every day – five days a week. It took a small virus called COVID to make us realize it wasn’t necessary. Or that it is not required to marry someone from the opposite sex – you can also marry into your own sex or interchange as you like it. Or, it is not necessary to have a kid just because you are married. Or, it is not essential to get married in the very first place.

We are where we are because we have in some ways, followed what we were told blindly. Maybe it’s time to step back and do something different because what we have done so far will not help humanity survive. Are you ready to break from the herd?

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