Have you ever wondered how normal events turn into superstition or moral codes?
Here is a short story by Paramahamsa Nithyananda.
In an ashram in India, its master used to hold his puja worship every morning. Now, the master had a pet cat. The cat was very curious and used to jump and play around. It got in the way of the master and his disciples during the daily worship. It never allowed them to finish their worship peacefully.
Gradually the cat, in all its playfulness, became a big nuisance. The master had grown quite fond of the cat and did not want to get rid of it. Since he did not want his daily worship disturbed, he asked his disciples to cover the cat with a basket before he began the worship.
That day, the worship was peaceful. The master asked his disciples to continue the same way next day. Covering the cat with a basket during their daily worship soon became a part of their routine.
Unexpectedly one day the master died. The disciples continued the tradition established by their master. They began their daily worship by covering the cat with a basket. Soon after, the cat too died. Now, the disciples faced a big dilemma. How could their worship be complete without covering the cat with a basket? They got another cat and subjected it to the same treatment.
After a few days, the cat escaped. The disciples now had another job of catching cats for the ashram. Soon, all cats in neighbourhood moved away. The disciples found it harder and harder to get a cat to cover with a basket for their worship. How to worship without a cat? It was sacrilegious even to think of this! Gradually they stopped the worship because there was no cat!
This is how a practice becomes a superstition, and superstitious beliefs takes on its own life to become a binding rule (Code of ethics).
Societal and religious commandments are similar rules. They are like superstitions that have taken lives of their own. When we have no understanding about the roots of the rules that have formed the moral commandments, we will also behave like the disciples in search of a cat.
Be clear. As long as morality is served as a rule as a moral code, we rebel. When morality is enforced, we create two things in our mind. First, we try our best to escape from it. When we cannot, we give in reluctantly. We create a deep guilt in our system when we ignore the rules every time and regret when we comply. Guilt and regret are the worst sins we can commit. When we understand how rules (code of ethics) we created, we create an awareness to either follow or break them, without guilt and fear.