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The Fear of Missing Out on Religion

There is a new internet slang called FOMO. It means fear of missing out. It arises because of jealousy. We see someone else doing something and we fear that they will get something good that we will not. That jealousy makes us want the other thing too. But we cannot do it as well as the person who is dedicated to it. Our priorities are different than theirs. Hence, we put on a charade of doing something while not being committed to it. By that charade, we put our FOMO to rest. Of course, it achieves nothing. We do actually miss out. But we pretend that we will not be missing out because we are doing something minimal. Therefore, FOMO engages us in ridiculous and fruitless activities.

Religion is also subject to FOMO. True religion involves complete devotion and dedication to God. Most people don’t want that. But they are jealous that the truly dedicated people will get something that they will not. They want the greatest result in religion without exclusive and complete devotion to God. Such people create new religions where the results are supposed to come without total devotion to God.

The Ladder of Religious Practices

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Kṛṣṇa offers Arjuna a ladder of six types of practices in which the topmost rung is complete and exclusive devotion to Him. But if Arjuna cannot do that, then there is something lower. If he cannot even do that, then there is something even lower. The lowest rung in this ladder is the cultivation of knowledge by studying the Vedic texts. In doing this, one doesn’t have to sacrifice most of their materialistic aspirations but they can still be on the lowest rung of the ladder.

Thus, Lord Kṛṣṇa offers Arjuna five different alternatives to the best path. All the paths are not equal. There is a clear hierarchy between these paths. The lower steps are for those who cannot do the higher step, but get FOMO. They realize that whatever I am doing is not going to get me the best result, especially the result attained by those devoted to God. To deal with it, they can follow the lower path. Lord Kṛṣṇa doesn’t give any path lower than the cultivation of knowledge.

The Creation of Multiple Religions

But in this age of lies, hypocrisy, and deceit, people have created dozens of religions. In some religions, you just have to believe that because you accepted some savior, you will be going to eternal heaven, without any change in personal character. The bar of religion has been lowered so low that everyone can jump over it.

People are jumping over low bars due to FOMO. They want to spend their life earning money, enjoying sex, building their careers, buying a house and car, going to all the possible social events, celebrating all the routines, and feeling good as a result of all these things. But sometimes they look at others who are fully devoted to God and not focusing on any of the above materialistic pursuits. They get FOMO. They don’t want to miss out on what the devoted people will get as a result of their dedication. They want to do the bare minimum to feel that they will also receive what others are going to receive. Multiple religions are created due to FOMO.

Each religion exists for people with different commitments to their own upliftment but they take to a religion to overcome their FOMO. They don’t want to be left out of the possibility of eternal heaven if such a thing indeed exists. But since they are not convinced that such a thing indeed exists, they don’t want to invest their whole life in its pursuit. They want all the other things, just in case eternal heaven doesn’t exist.

FOMO Religions Reduce Requirements

Each alternative religion reduces what one has to do to attain perfection but hides it from its followers because the purpose of the religion is to alleviate FOMO. Indeed, it promises to give the same result without the same level of dedication and devotion. The lowest level of required dedication is seen in religions that say that if you just have faith in God and His savior then you will go to heaven. Once in a while, you should just donate some money to those who are doing more than you, namely, trying to spread the message that nothing is required except faith in the savior and some money. This is hugely attractive to billions of people. The bar is so low that anyone can jump over it. They jump over it to evade their FOMO. They think that they will receive the most valuable thing without doing anything.

Then there are religions that demand more commitment. You have to practice non-violence, control your mind and senses, and lead a clean and cultured life, whose immediate benefits are mental peace and fewer diseases arising from endless anxieties about failure in materialistic pursuits. Materialism is still very important to such people. It is, in fact, the key measure of success in life. But to keep materialism going for a long time without suffering, one has to add some practices. Such people choose a religion that helps them lead a good life for a long time by following a practice that gives a healthy body and mind for continuous materialistic pursuit. The religion also says that this is the be-all and end-all of life. There is nothing more to religion than a peaceful mind and a healthy body which is then used for getting material success.

Then there are religions that demand even more commitment. They say that the world is a delusion, that you must practice simplicity and renunciation for personal salvation, through the cultivation of knowledge and the practice of some meditation. Generally, all this comes along with the renunciation of other duties, so this type of religion substitutes one thing with another. However, the standards of knowledge and meditation are very low. Some meditators say that we must just “observe” our thoughts and by that, we will become “observers” of reality, as if you can just keep observing those coming to kill you. Their standard for knowledge is even lower. Just study the seven centers of concentration in the body where you can focus your awareness for observation as if anyone can actually see anything in these places.

Basic Traits of FOMO Religions

When real dedication, devotion, and commitment are missing, then hundreds if not thousands of religions are created due to FOMO. Everyone is scared of missing out but unwilling to dedicate their life to the greatest thing either because they are not convinced or they don’t want to invest the energy and time necessary to get convinced. They rubber stamp themselves with a religious title, practice, and allegiance to some sectarian group to overcome their FOMO. They also claim or like to believe there is nothing more to religion than what they are doing.

The basic trait of a FOMO-driven religion is that it attacks all other religions closer to complete devotion to God. The mere presence of a religion that teaches the highest result only in return for the highest sacrifice is greatly troubling for the FOMO-driven religion because it entails that the FOMO-driven religion is not going to attain the highest result.

Many people who want the highest result may start questioning the tenets of the FOMO-driven religion and ultimately abandon it. The reduced size of the band of followers will then prompt other followers to ask the same questions and possibly abandon the religion. Through this process, the FOMO in the FOMO-driven religion increases greatly. To put an end to the FOMO, the FOMO-driven religion attacks all other religions to keep its band of followers intact. All FOMO-driven religions seek the safety of numbers. Abandonment greatly increases their FOMO.

Misleading Incarnations of God

When religion is practiced due to FOMO, then God appears to separate the wheat from the husk. He pied-pipers people suffering from FOMO to a separate intellectual, ideological, or sectarian land where they will find safety in numbers with similarly FOMO-driven people and stop attacking and confusing the people who are prepared to make the greatest sacrifice to obtain the greatest result. The FOMO-driven people then gather together and form a new religion that promises to give a lot for a lot less.

The Vedic texts recognize two incarnations of God—Buddha and Shankaracharya—in this age to pied-piper away the people who are in a religion driven by FOMO and constantly challenge and question the people who have dedicated their full life to the greatest pursuit. The pied-piper produces enchanting music. At least, it is music to the ears of those who are in the religion due to FOMO and are a continuous distraction, disturbance, and nuisance for those who have dedicated their life to the greatest pursuit. The pied-piper takes away these nuisance makers to their own separate place where they can dance to the pied-piper’s tunes and leave the rest of the people dedicated to the highest purpose alone.

These pied-piper incarnations are glorified by the greatest devotees of the Lord because they know that taking the people disinterested in the highest truth away from the highest truth is a glorious activity. Instead of bothering others, the disinterested people can just dance to the tunes of the pied-piper, truly believe that the pied-piper is taking them toward deliverance and salvation, and leave the rest alone. But the same devotees also say that these incarnations are pied-pipers and their music is delusional. These two are not contradictory things. The glorification and criticism pertain to the same situation. It is true that the Lord has incarnated to protect the true dharma. It is also true that the Lord has incarnated to enchant the mischief makers away from those who can devote themselves to the highest purpose.

How God Plays Multiple Roles

Thus, in this age called Kali-Yuga, hundreds of religions are created because (a) people are not interested in religion, (b) they have FOMO, (c) they attack those who devote themselves to the highest goal of life, and (d) they have to be separated from those who are devoted to the highest goal of life. The cook cleans the raw uncooked food before cooking it. Cleaning is also a cook’s job. But since cleaning requires separating the grain from the chaff, hence, it looks different from cooking. Cleaning and cooking are two sides of the same coin, although cooking is the desired goal, and cleaning is a necessary evil.

There are two kinds of contaminations in every conditioned soul. They are called guna and karma. By guna, each person is accustomed to bad habits, ideas, and practices. By karma, each person is born in a society addicted to bad habits, ideas, and practices. Guna is nature and karma is nurture. Nurture increases nature and nature increases nurture. Therefore, when we start changing nature, then we have to stop nurturing the previous nature. Medicine may not always work without a change in diet. That change in diet is the change of nurture. Stop eating bad things while you are trying to get cured. If those bad things are people poisoning a person trying to heal, then they have to be removed from the association of those cultivating devotion to the Lord. That removal happens through the creation of a new religion.

We can clearly see that the other religion is different. That it has separate books, practices, and places of worship. We can clearly see that the people of such religions assemble in different places to do different things. They dance to different tunes because some pied-piper has enchanted them away to (a) fulfill their desire for practicing a FOMO-driven religion, and (b) relieve others from their disturbing influence.

Interactions with FOMO Religions

The thumb rule for those dedicated to the highest purpose is to never criticize the FOMO-driven religion because any attack will simply increase the fear in the FOMO-driven religion and cause a bigger attack in retaliation. The purpose of separating the FOMO-driven people from those dedicated to the highest purpose would be defeated. Therefore, the general principle for those dedicated to the highest purpose is to not question, criticize, or attack other religious sects. Let them dance to the tune that the Lord has created for them—precisely so that they will leave the seekers of the highest truth alone. The exception to this thumb rule is that we must counterattack in response to attacks from FOMO-driven people.

Of course, we cannot dig a well after the house is already on fire. We cannot start recruiting an army after the country is already under attack. We have to anticipate, prepare, and train for such an attack in advance. These attacks from FOMO-driven people are inevitable and anticipated. The well is dug in advance to put out the fire. The army is recruited, trained, and prepared for repelling an attack. But the army is called the Ministry of Defense rather than the Ministry of Attack. The army serves to defend and occasionally counterattack. It doesn’t exist to attack proactively. The proactive step is to recruit, prepare, and train the army. For that, we need to understand the attackers and how to defend and counterattack them. But if there is no attack, then the army is not utilized to attack the others proactively. Defense and counterattacks are not proactive aggression. They are meant to hold and defend a position. A country should not stop preparing for an attack and a country should not attack other countries proactively.

This nuance must be upheld in case of aggression from FOMO-driven religions too. When they attack, we have to respond aggressively. Before that, we have to prepare proactively without attacking them. But if they do not attack, then we have to let them dance to the tune of the pied pipers who have taken them away from those dedicated to the highest purpose and allowed different people to live peacefully.

Understanding God’s Many Natures

Even as God spreads the truth, He also spreads delusion. The truth is spread to those who want the truth. The delusion is spread to those who want the delusion. God is the supplier of both truth and delusion. That doesn’t mean He equates both truth and delusion. His preference for the truth is always higher. But that preference is not the absence of the delusion. Since everything is coming from God, therefore, both truth and delusion are coming from God. The delusional act of God is also an act of mercy on those interested in the truth, just as it is very pleasing to those who are not interested in the truth. God is the marketplace to get everything.

The better things are priced higher than the worse things. The pricing is honest. The intelligent look at the price tag and ask the shopkeeper: Why is this priced so high when the other things are priced so low? Then, the shopkeeper explains the features of the highly- and lowly-priced products. The intelligent customer also realizes that the cheaper product is also the worse product. If he wants to get the better product then he also has to shell out the higher price.

However, the shopkeeper doesn’t proactively criticize the cheaper products in his shop. He will sell whatever the buyer wants to purchase. He will of course display everything very clearly, and display the better products more prominently. The shopkeeper wants to sell the best and the most expensive products the most. But he knows that most people cannot afford the better products. He looks at each buyer, assesses their capacity to purchase, and directs them toward the correct aisle or display to let them evaluate. The buyers who want to get expensive products are treated with greater respect, courtesy, and regard. The buyers who want to get the cheaper product are not so treated.

Knowing the Nature of Truth and Delusion

Those buyers who are already buying the most expensive products should not attack the other buyers. Of course, they can feel happy that they are getting better products and tell their trusted friends, relatives, and associates about the better product. If they find a friend in the same shop buying the worse product, they can just go up to them and inquire what they are buying. They can also tell them that they prefer to buy the better product, see if their trusted friend, relative, or associate is interested, and then act accordingly.

Unless the person buying the cheaper product attacks the person buying the better product, there is no need for retaliation. But the person buying the expensive product must also know the features of the more expensive thing he is buying. Nobody pays more money out of blind faith.

All these nuances are not difficult to understand. They are just not widely known because of binary good-bad thinking created by FOMO-driven religions that cannot justify their beliefs and actions based on the features of what they are buying or selling. Those interested in the highest truth must understand the features of both the expensive and cheaper products and then buy the best quality product.