Sunday, May 27, 2007

Religion At Its Best

I am not anti-religion; I only want to look into the nature of religion. People mistake an honest examination of religion with being anti-religion, which in and of itself tells you something very important about the nature of religion: it fears honest scrutiny. Why? Because at its heart religion is nothing but a series of propositions enforced by fear.

Think about this for a moment. Why do some people suffer from Original Sin and others do not? Is it ignorance on the part of the billion plus people who do not suffer, or conditioning on the part of the billion plus that do? Why do Jews and Muslims think God is displeased if they eat pork? Is this because they know God’s dietary predilections, or simply the product of thousands of years of enforced conditioning? Why do Tibetan Buddhists think there is merit in spinning a prayer wheel? Why do Hindus offer flowers and fruit to Ganesha, the elephant-headed God? Yes, devotees can invent sophisticated reasons to make these actions meaningful, but these are mere glosses. With or without a good reason you had best do the action because if you don’t something bad is going to happen to you or those you love. Religion is at root magic, but it could be so much more.

Religion could be a laboratory for investigating meaning, and realms of consciousness that materialist science refuses to consider. It could be a school for timeless ethical teachings freed from time–bound bias and bigotry. It could be a community where people support one another in times of pain and celebrate with one another in times of joy without blaming or theological clucking of tongues.

Religion is all this to some extent, but it is hampered by fear and conditioning. I don’t want to do away with religion I want to do away with fear and conditioning. I don’t want to do away with God I want to do away with theology. I don’t want to do away with clergy I want to do away with exploitation of the laity. And when there is no fear, no conditioning, no theology, and no exploitation there is a chance that you and I might peer directly into Reality as it is—and that is religion at its best.

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