We live on a minor planet of an average star located in the outer limits of the Milky Way galaxy which contains over 200 billion stars. All the planets with their satellites revolve round the sun which in turn along with all of them goes round the galactic nucleus at a very high speed.
There are over one hundred thousand million galaxies in the universe! Scientists think there are a number of such universes! Against these scales, even our Milky way galaxy, (dia.100,000 light years) wherein our own sun is just an ordinary star is just a speck or a dot; our sun a negligible object and the earth infinitesimal.
In an earth like planet with the optimum gravity to retain an atmosphere, at an optimum distance from the sun(to get just enough energy) with an abundance of elements, life evolved through random chemical reactions and later, through evolution, reached the levels of an advanced civilization we see today. There can be millions of earth-like- planets in the universe with life in many of them. Due to the huge distances involved, we do not know each other. The entire solar system and the life on planet earth will end with the death of our sun in a supernova after 4 billion years.
Thousands of billions of people have taken birth here and gone. A majority of them died before they reached the age of ten or less. Billions have perished in natural calamities and an equal number in wars fought for gods, religions, powerful guys and nations. No one over 125 years is alive today. That is our maximum life-span. But this small planet has been there, almost in the same form, for the last 42000000000 years! It may be there for another 40000000000 years! But we humans are like an air bubble, forming and bursting out almost simultaneously.
Man evolved from the lower mammals like chimpanzees probably in Africa and later spread out to the different continents. Geography and climate made him black, white, yellow colored with myriad physical linguistic and cultural differences. Temperate areas advanced more than the hot climate ones, Regions like America, northern Europe, Japan, Korea Australia and New Zealand are all rich and prosperous. Sub Saharan Africa and Sothern Asia are poor and underdeveloped. Ethnic, nationalistic linguistic and religious differences have brought about innumerable conflicts.
Man’s life had been extremely difficult in the early years. Food was scarce and he had to face the fury of nature, diseases and death. But his powerful procreative faculties made him survive and proliferate. He tamed animals, discovered agriculture, developed industry and started to make his life comfortable in the recent past.
During the early stages of human evolution he was awe struck at the wonderful nature phenomena..Many of them like the sun and moon were good and he started making them benevolent gods (deification of nature-phenomena).The forces which caused floods, hurricanes, thunder & lightening, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, contagious diseases and plagues became evil gods. He started pleasing the former and appeasing the latter.
Further he was puzzled at the death of a friend who was walking with him just the other day. Something must have left his corpse (the body remains intact after death-at least for a small period-)and naturally he started thinking of a spirit that must have left the corpse. This is the beginning of animism –the cult of the spirits. Man was sad of his mortality and he longed to live eternally like the gods he made. All these together laid the foundations for the various religions we see today. Millions of gods of all shapes and hues got evolved and some of them became superior to the others. Later, in tandem with the rise of powerful kings and emperors, the concept of a supreme god evolved too. Religious leaders of different natures established different ways to live here to please his gods. Buddha , Sankara, Christ, Mohammed all had their own versions.
The discovery of agriculture and evolution of human societies made religions organized too. Today we have atheistic Buddhism, pantheistic Hinduism, monotheistic Christianity, Judaism and Islam, atheistic communism, and animistic beliefs. There are hundreds of warring sects for each one of the major religions. Religions have caused thousands of wars, communal strife and they have harmed the peaceful co-existence of man.
Parents programs children to believe their religion. The brain washing is so intense and deep rooted that normally they come to believe their religion is the only true one. Perhaps it is interesting to note that these religions are fundamentally different in the concept of the god, how man should live here and the nature of an afterlife. Even the ultimate purpose of life varies totally from one to the other. For the Hindus it is cessation from the chain of birth and rebirth, for the Buddhists it is Nirvana or total detachment, for the Moslems it is a material heaven where every conceivable pleasure is available and the Christians speak of a spiritual life with the godhead. Even today, in the midst of an advanced civilization half of all men still believe in a religion of some sort--more due to the force of habit and early childhood programming than due to any other cause.
We have this enigmatic 100 odd years in front of us. We can live it in the delusion of a god, heaven and do everything for the afterlife. Or, we can understand the true facts of life and face things squarely living this life happily and successfully with a lot of celebration, helping fellow beings and at last go with a gratitude that we got a chance to come down here.