Religion has been in the news a great deal lately and usually for the wrong reasons. I am often asked about religion and thought it was time to write a short treatise with my thoughts. This is certainly not a complete explanation of religion from my viewpoint. These are just thoughts that I have tried to connect in a fairly coherent and understandable fashion. There is a great deal more that I could say and I may do so in the future. But for now…..
Religion is the human intellect’s attempt to explain and codify that which is ineffable and cannot be explained in human language or systemized.
In my experience there is only One Infinite, Immortal Creator, One Life, One Infinite, Immortal, Omniscient Consciousness, One Being. For simplicity’s sake I will call it God. God is All. There is no place that God is not. There is no thing that God is not. One cannot put the Infinite Creator in a book or a box or a video or a religion. You can read a great deal more about my thoughts and experiences at this blog.
Religions usually begin with an individual experiencing some sort of enlightenment, a direct experience of the true nature of the Universe, of the Creator. Of course it is impossible to explain this experience to others but the enlightened one does his/her best. Those who hear of this experience attempt to understand it. Some wish to experience it for themselves. Some attempt to disavow it and others are just satisfied hearing about the wonderful experience of enlightenment.
Slowly but surely stories are told about the enlightened one’s experiences. Always they are embellished as human beings are wont to do with their stories. For those who wish to experience the enlightenment themselves or to understand this experience there are always those who will attempt to codify a process for the experience of the divine. They create rules and steps. Then they create a structure and attempt to convince as many people as possible to join this structure. This is how religions usually begin.
Of course some religions have been started as scams to make money and they are quite often successful at achieving that goal. Sometimes far more than they ever expected. Some religions begin quite sincerely and then become scams as well.
The more the enlightened one’s related experiences are turned into stories, codified and explained, the further the followers get from the original intent of the individual who first experienced enlightenment. At some point the original intent becomes irrelevant and all that matters is the growth, ideology, strengthening and spreading of the religion. Holy books are created, more rules are established. Offshoots of the original religion are created as followers argue amongst themselves. Eventually wars are fought, territories conquered, people murdered and enslaved, valuables looted and money accumulated all in the name of religion. Temples are built with the money so that the masses will see how powerful and right the religion is. (Also so the ‘priests’ of that religion can live extremely well). Thus the religion attracts even more followers and thereby more money and power. Eventually the religion gains enough power so that it can impose its ideology on everyone in a region by taking control of governments. Religions have done this since the first religion was created and are still doing it to this very day.
Human beings want to feel as though they belong to something larger than their individual selves. They like being around people of like mind and common beliefs. So they will gravitate to religions that seem to offer them this comradery and sense of belonging. Many people like being told what to think, how to dress, how to eat, how to act. These people are quite often attracted to authoritarian religions and feel more secure and guided in them. Some people just want to be a part of a group that they can identify with or that gives them good business or political connections. Some people genuinely want to experience the same enlightenment that the enlightened one experienced so they join that religion in hopes of learning the way.
In point of fact, there is no one way. There is no religion that will lead its followers to enlightenment. While the experience of enlightenment is about the same for everyone who experiences it, the way there is absolutely unique for each individual.
There are religious groups and individuals who do good works for the world. There are religious groups that do not proselytize or attempt to impose their beliefs and ideologies on others. There are offshoots of religions that really attempt to guide people to the enlightenment of the religion’s initial enlightened one. These groups are usually small and not well funded.
On the other hand, most large, modern and well-funded religious groups are still playing the same games. Convincing their followers that God needs their money and property. That they will be blessed on Earth and in heaven if they give of their substance and earnings to the religious organization. These are scams.
From my experience and extensive studies these religious groups have absolutely no idea what the initial enlightened one was trying to describe. Nor do they even care. All they care about is their ideology, power and money. Secondly, these religious teachers, priests and leaders have no idea what God wants although they will proselytize forever on exactly what God wants. Thirdly, these people have absolutely no clue what God is and what enlightenment is other than what their holy book says. They have never experienced it nor are they ever likely to. And fourth, God does not need anyone’s money. God is Being all money and everything else in the universe. Giving money to a religious organization might feed and clothe some people in need, and it is great if this happens. But more often, that money goes to the religion’s leaders, paying to get more followers and their money and creating new huge buildings. Giving money to a religious organization will never, in a million years, buy anyone into a fanciful heaven or help someone avoid a fictitious hell.
So, in conclusion. My suggestion is that if you are attracted to a particular religion for comradery, comfort, doing good works or meeting that ideal mate, then fine. But the minute that religious leader tells you that you must give money to get into heaven or that you must cut your hair in a certain way or only eat certain foods or dress in a certain way to be pleasing in the eyes of God, run the other way. And if any person from any religion tells you that they must impose their religious ideology on others or that non-believers are going to hell or that you should harm or murder others in the name of that religion, tell them to bugger off, run the other way. Shun these people. Make them untouchable. Educate your friends and family about them so that no one falls into their traps. Give them no quarter, sustenance or support. Do not do business with them. Do not offer them shelter. Be vocal. Let them know that they are not correct and they are not welcome in your community.
Religion is not going away. There will always be people who are attracted to religions for a thousand different reasons. Some religious groups are wonderful, some are fine, some are harmless and neutral, some are scams and some are evil. It is important that you use discernment when dealing with religion.
There is no one way. There is no one true religion. Anyone who claims that is full of it.
Do not believe anyone just because they say they have the truth. Including me. Learn for yourself. Experience for yourself. Find your own answers, and, if you are inclined, your own experience of enlightenment.