In a free society--although the Freedom of Speech guarantees that everyone has a right to voice their opinion--it is quite conceivable, notably in the case of a highly emotional religious follower, to abuse this right to the extent that it can literally undermine the very structure of that society.
For example, today in the United States we are witnessing the abuse of that free voice by certain individuals charged with the belief that they not only have the right but are obligated to relentlessly impact the minds of others for the sole purpose of "converting" them to the "inspired words of God." And they defiantly uphold this because they consider it their "calling" to "spread the word and save the world." (Yet, whose "word" are they spreading?)
Considering the infiltration of Religious Right idealism into the U.S. government, for example, (making its intentions felt within the Republican Party), where the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state is supposed to be unconditionally upheld, the consequences could be disastrous. Americans are already seeing an attempt to implement prayer in schools, which is a violation of their right to freedom of religion (because whose prayers are to be recited?). Moreover, it won't stop there, because these are not spiritual/humanitarian people interested in the welfare or rights of others, but religious fanatics operating out of fear, hatred, and the will to control others. Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration.
We must realize that this need to control others stems from a fear of being in a world where people are free to live their lives in ways that are varied, creative and expressionistic--the criminal element notwithstanding. The psychology behind such a controlling tendency has its source in a spiritual bankruptcy, indicating a significant degree of subjective inferiority. To compensate, they secretly reason that if they can see their religious ideals passed into law, it will validate their system of belief (precisely because their inner experience is riddled with doubt). Make no mistake, the desire to secure uniform regimental behavior is not a byproduct of strength but of weakness, as well as being the result of a very real fear of freedom. Now we can begin to see why and how these people can be such a threat to a free society.
Before I continue, it's important to establish that we're speaking the same language (misunderstandings due to semantics are one of life's more vicious ways of wasting time). Down through the ages, the word "religion" has undergone a radical metamorphosis. Its origin was derived from the Latin prefix "re," suffix "ligio," meaning "to re-link the self or personality with its source, or that which caused it to be." The ideas propounded at the moment of birth of each religion (ideas originally established by each respective founder) were centered on this basic definition. However, over the course of time, the word "religion" has generally come to represent multiple splintered systems of belief, each with their own set of dogmas and rituals, each arrogantly believing that theirs is the only one founded on truth and sanctioned by God. "Religion" has therefore come to represent sectarian prejudice, superstitional ignorance, and pious superiority.
However, there's a logical reason this had to happen. Human beings are, by nature, stubborn creatures of habit, and unless they're subjected to extreme conditions--in this case though negative examples, they're not likely to change their ways. But our time has surely come. We are in the midst of radical circumstances, and we should be capable of seeing through this calamity of delusion. Such violent conflict of beliefs is the result of, among other things, a prevailing tendency toward a biased perspective coupled with an inability to empathize with the needs of others. If the people perpetuating these ideas were capable of even a modest degree of objectivity, truer insights into the nature of their own religion would begin to emerge for them.
In light of this, I would like to deliver the first blow in breaking down their wall of illusion, by stating that the essence of all the major religions is one and the same! No doubt this will shock and repulse many people, and most will consider it ridiculous to even contemplate, but since their conclusions are based on heresay, how can they possibly feel justified in criticizing something they know nothing about? Have they researched any other religion? Are they utterly incapable of seeing through the pettiness of being indoctrinated into an arbitrary interpretation of life via the chance circumstances of a given environment?.....whereas, had they been born under the banner of Islam, they'd be just as much Muslim as they are now Christian or Jewish!
The common denominator threading all major religions is that they were all borne from a universal human perspective (dealing with the selfsame human condition--i.e. facing the questions and mysteries of life and death, suffering, etc.), and therefore all have profound validity (not the way they are commonly understood and disseminated, but the true teachings behind them). Unbiased scientific investigation alone will bear this out.
The value of comparative religious study can only be appreciated if and when it is pursued; and if one seeks with determination and an open mind, years needn't be spent in the quest. However, it can readily happen that such useful and practical insights can be discovered from this kind of undertaking, a person might want to pursue it to even greater depths. I myself have studied comparative religion (which leads to discovering their "secret teachings," involving metaphysics or esoteric philosophy) for over 30 years, and the benefits I derived from this are indescribable.
Through such a study, one achieves a fairly accurate overview of the different approaches, and sees that each is suited to a particular temperament. I, for example, found myself favoring Zen Buddhism in my earlier years, and more recently have favored the Vedantic approach in Hinduism which, to date, I feel is the clearest and most direct approach. Please understand, this doesn't suggest that I consider it to be inherently superior, or that it's saying anything fundamentally different from the other religions, it merely suits my temperament. In this regard, I would recommend the approach adopted by Theosophy, since it cross-references virtually all of the world religions, philosophies, and science, for a most unprejudicial approach to uncover the truth (as best that it can be discerned).
I can't emphasize enough how unfortunate it is that the majority of the people in the world have been exposed to only a single religion; for, prejudice and a narrow perspective are almost inevitably the result. Moreover, as I also alluded to, the world religions, as they have been established through history (in their traditional form--i.e. exoteric and therefore materialistic and superficial in interpretaion), have grossly distorted the teachings of their respective founders. The result of this has misled virtually millions of people to the point where they are, for example, oblivious of the essentials of spiritual doctrine; where instead they have mistakenly tended to focus on tithing, building edifices, exaggerating the importance of ritual, attending church functions, etc. And, more significantly, their degree of prejudice, criticism of other sects as well as contempt of other religions, and the fear and repulsion which they [although, don't usually profess openly, yet] teach by example and imply by omission, indicates a serious level of ignorance of the teachings of their own respective Founders!
Consequently there has been a veiling process at work within the jurisdiction of the prevailing institutions, in allowing their members to be diverted from the essence or truth of the Teachings. As already pointed out, all the religions speak of essentially the same thing, although they approach it differently.
So, what are the religions of the world really saying? What are the real or "secret" Teachings behind their exoteric or superficially established tenets? (Note that "secret" is used with quotations because the Teachings are not really secret, but simply not divulged by the clergy due to themselves being uninformed. Instead, one should read the scriptures oneself to ascertain their true content, and not allow anyone else to indoctrinate them.)
With the exception of Buddhism, for reasons I will explain shortly, all the major religions, including Hinduism are, first and foremost, monotheistic. When esoterically defined, the term monotheism reveals that one supreme Intelligence, or God, is not only the Creator of, but is the Universe itself, visible and invisible. (Some people think that Hinduism is polytheistic, but an in-depth study will reveal that this isn't really true.)
This single concept, if it be clearly understood, has enormous implications/applications. What does it imply? That the whole of life is really interconnected; that it is all a unified field of energy; that virtually everything that exists is actually divine; and that the idea of mutually exclusive or separative egos is nothing more than a mistake in perception, and an extremely serious one--in fact, a mistake responsible for nothing less than 100% of all our suffering in time on Earth! (Obviously this sounds quite radical to be put in such a way; and, unfortunately, further discussion that might reinforce such an idea isn't possible here--lest we drift too far off topic.)
Even the exoteric tenets of the established religions clearly state, among other things, that "God is everywhere." If we are to believe this statement, we then have to say, "Then God must also somehow be within that which is evil, including the Devil himself!" Well, without going too far into the esoteric nature of the matter, I will simply say that what appears to be evil, is just that, an appearance. 'Evil' is simply a state of ignorance, which is a state of consciousness disconnected from the Whole; is not wholistic therefore; is a contraction, a limitation, a separation, an isolation. It's as simple as that. It is said that upon Realization or Enlightenment, the entire realm of negativity itself collapses as if awakening from a dream (in this case, a nightmare).
Insofar as Buddhism is concerned, its founder Sakyamuni Gotama Siddhartha (the Buddha), was not interested in intellectual speculation, but rather wanted to engender an experience in the hearts of his listeners, and therefore when approached with such questions concerning God or the Soul, he remained silent. Had he philosophically discounted these, he would have overtly stated so.
What might also be considered a revolutionary idea, and one the Teachings encourage us to consider, is the fact that religion shouldn't be thought of as a system of ideological dictatorship. For example, the preoccupation the traditional Judeo-Christian followers have with the [false and damaging] conceptions regarding 'the wrath of God' and 'eternal damnation,' have intimidated people to the point that they are in fear of questioning anything. Real knowledge cannot occur if the mind is restricted in its normal process of gathering information. Don't misunderstand me, there are definite places within the elucidation of the Teachings where faith is a vital requirement, but a healthy attitude of scientific inquiry is equally important to enable one to realize exactly when and where (on the Spiritual Path) faith needs to be applied, and to arrive at that time and place with a clear understanding of what the Teachings are attempting to divulge. Otherwise we might as well be robots. In no way do the Teachings imply that our free will should be violated. It is absurd to even consider such a thing.
Obviously, since the majority of the people that might be reading this are likely to be of the Christian faith, I would like to briefly focus on the teachings of Jesus.
First of all, Jesus never claimed to be the only Divine Being to come to Earth once in an eternity. According to my understanding, there have been divine personalities before and since. Among them, Buddha, Rama, Krishna, Sankaracharya, to name a few. Moreover, Jesus hinted at the potential divinity within every human being when he said, "Have I not called all ye gods?" As well as, "The works that I have done, ye shall one day do even greater." So that, what he exemplified in himself, is potentially true for each of us.
Another fragment of his Teaching indicates the locality of God's Domain: "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." Now, if this is God's dwelling, God must be there also; yet the people at the time were not ready to openly hear that God dwells within them; so, like most of the statements he made, this also had to be stated indirectly, and those ready to understand it would be able to decipher it. Jesus alluded to this necessary tactic when he spoke to his closest disciples regarding the fact that he said one thing to the masses, another to the select group, and another still to those closest to him.
Concerning our attitude in treating criminals, from punitive incarceration to administering the death penalty, in no uncertain terms did Jesus emphasize that we should love our enemies and "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Not that such people should be allowed to continue committing crimes, but rather they should be treated for their soul infliction--which manifests through an obvious mental/emotional dis-ease, and not be sadistically ridiculed, judged, and condemned.)
Regarding our frequently exaggerated pursuit for material security and pleasure, he said, "Lay ye not treasures on Earth, where moth and rust corrode,....[but in Spirit], for where thy treasure is, thy heart will also be." And, "Be not concerned about what you will eat or drink, or what you will wear; are not the birds and animals [who do not sow or harvest and do not spin garments] taken care of by thy Father in heaven?"
One who claims to be a true follower of Christ cannot be evaluated by what it is that he or she might say, or how adept they are at quoting the Bible, but rather by the level of love in their heart and peace in their aura (demeanor). Is this not obvious? Is this not clearly what Christ stood for? Compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love? His only two commandments centered on love. Sometimes it's hard to imagine how far some of his zealous followers drifted from his central teaching and entire message! What kind of language need be used to drive this point home??!
Another quality, which many may find hard to understand, is a noticeable degree of detachment and dispassion. This is the result of an intimate communion with the Spirit (God), where the vicissitudes of the world are no longer an obsessive concern, since all is in the "Hands of God," and therefore nothing can truly be, in reality, ultimately tragic. (Much explaining might be needed to convey the meaning of this idea and its ramifications, which this article will not permit.)
It's supremely important to realize that Jesus Christ was a revolutionary; attempting to neutralize the power hungry rabbis who were rooted in the letter of the law instead of the Spirit (i.e. observing rituals for the purpose of impressing and entertaining each other, instead of practicing a silent inward devotion without an ulterior motive or even a wish for the betterment of their worldly circumstance). We notice how often he would call them hypocrites, because they preached religious ideals yet exemplified selfish greed, pious superiority, and mutual exclusivity. This has gradually re-developed today, this time within the Christian Church and its various denominations. (Most sects within the other major religions are also plagued with these kinds of attitudes.)
However, these are all very necessary developments--being negative examples people can learn from, if they allow themselves an open mind to perceive the ever increasingly visible corruption. For example, we're actually fortunate to be morally and aesthetically assaulted by the bizarre phenomenon of televangelism, where fearmonger preachers judge and condemn anything that doesn't support their ideological scheme, where, capitalizing on the terror of "divine threat," they openly coerce their audiences for large donations--to build their personal empires! A team of Mensa geniuses couldn't devise a better example to expose the farcical inversion of the religious sanctity they're supposed to represent! At this point, no-one should have an excuse for not seeing through all this.
It cannot be emphasized enough--and Jesus made reference to it: "By their fruits ye shall know them"--that it's what's in the heart that really counts. The identifiable characteristics of these unfortunate individuals are becoming all but impossible not to recognize: possessing the most morbid dispositions; never smiling; always complaining; laden with judgements; hating and condemning whoever doesn't align with their arbitrary ethical standards; instilling fear and guilt into whoever doesn't have the strength of character to parry their onslaughts. And the real litmus test that exposes what they're all about: How rarely, if ever, they say the word "love" or even allude to its meaning, or quote the central message that the entire mission of Jesus stood for, namely his only two commandments (Love God and love thy neighbor)?
On the contrary, let us allow these "negative gurus" to teach us valuable lessons. Let us calmly observe, learn, and take silent action within our hearts; let us not harbor hatred, nor even look down upon these (or anyone for any reason) for, at this point in time, "they know not what they do." Instead, let us send them good-will, peace and love; for one day, surely, they shall awaken...for they are themselves sacred within and will, surely, realize the whole truth, no less than the greatest sages of all times! Not meaning to sound pedantic, but I daresay that these words reflect the intent of the 'secret' Teachings. As such, they imply fulfilment through wholistic Realization, are devoid of guilt, fear and condemnation, and are in complete agreement with the purpose of Evolution.
Contact: f maiello