Religion and Spirituality

October 27, 2011

Religion is exoteric and spirituality is esoteric.

Religion focuses on the outer person (appearance or expression), while spirituality focuses on the inner person (thoughts, feelings, and so on).

Religion is form and spirituality is substance.

Religion imitates, but spirituality originates.

Religion fills; spirituality overflows.

Religion brings routine. Spirituality brings freedom.

Religion values ceremony. Spirituality values meaning.

Religion imposes rules. Spirituality discovers truths.

Religion says people are bad. Spirituality says they are good.

Religion empowers others. Spirituality empowers oneself.

Religion is the painting of the flower. Spirituality is the flower.

Religion looks to the past. Spirituality looks to the future.

Religion takes discipline. Spirituality takes curiosity.

Religion burdens. Spirituality lightens.

Religion persuades. Spirituality explains.

Religion fears. Spirituality seeks.

Religion defines. Spirituality expresses.

Religion teaches longsuffering. Spirituality teaches patience.

Religion takes freedom away. Spirituality affirms freedom.

Religion limits. Spirituality expands.

Religion requires the acceptance of a belief in place of experience; Spirituality requires the release of beliefs that hinder experience.

Religion is a bandage. Spirituality is the scalpel.

Religion obscures. Spirituality uncovers.

Religion is the haven of the fearful. Spirituality is the playground of the joyful.

Religion dulls. Spirituality sharpens.

Religion hushes. Spirituality laughs.

Religion cries tears of guilt and shame. Spirituality cries tears of release and joy.

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Our Spirit Is God

October 13, 2011
One limiting thought I used to have is: “It is wrong to try to be like God.” But that is my nature! Ever since I was born, people have been doing their best to limit me, to make me something less than I am. I deserve to receive the power of God in me because I have the desire, ability, talent, and goodness necessary to become a powerful force of good in this world and to express the Divine in my life and my society.

It is not wrong to want the fullness of God to express Itself through you.

All I know about life culminates in what I’m learning now. I can recognize Truth and falsehood. This is not of the devil. There is no devil. That was a made-up fairy tale character. There is certainly no evil that approaches the power of Good. Real evil is weak and temporary, and my purpose in life is to end it. So, now I will become more like God every day of my life, just as I have been becoming for as long as I remember. Now, with my greater understanding, people will help me along, not hinder me!

I’ve had wrong ideas about God because of the religious images associated with the word/name “God” in Christianity. I must remember that it is God—my God—I see in the sunset, in the clouds moving across the sky, in the trees, in the cat, and in my loved ones. It is God who guides me and whose voice I recognize as my intuition. God is not Jehovah. God is the Universe. God is Life. I do know God, so I need to remove all my false ideas about It.

God is the Spirit within me—and you. That Spirit is our True Self.

Man is the highest known expression of Spirit in flesh. Man’s eventual purpose is to express all the qualities of Spirit fully. He does this gradually, through his own evolution, which is a conscious process of reaching upward and outward, so to speak, both toward and as an expression of the Spirit living through him. The more he allows the Spirit’s expression, the higher he raises his consciousness, the more he evolves, and the more like Spirit he becomes.

Spirit is man. To express Spirit means to allow the qualities of Spirit to flow through you. Jesus—the “Son of Man”—was an example of this very powerful state, and that’s what he was trying to tell us.

The “Kingdom of God” is near indeed!  It is within us, just as the Master said.

(written in January 2007)


Finding the Real God

September 23, 2011

If you really seek God, it’s up to you to search. God rewards those who persistently seek truth. If you persist in your search, you will find other people helping you along the way and circumstances will line up to lead you to the next step on your path.

God isn’t a dog that comes when called. God is an essential part of you that you have to uncover by clearing away all the garbage in your life that obscures your vision of God and truth.

A good first step in finding God is simply stopping and looking around. Everything here is for your benefit!

What’s blocking your view of God? Problems.

Get rid of them and see what’s left. Your problems, remember, are yours. You created them in some way, and it’s up to you to solve them. Solving them is an effective way to see (God) more clearly.

How do we know what problems to solve? Anything we value more than understanding blocks our view.

God is Love. There is no fear in Love. When you find the true God, your fears will stop dominating your thoughts and you will be free. God is in you and all around you. Look!

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


Religious Morality

September 22, 2011

Is belief in a judging or punishing god necessary for people to act morally?

If you behave because of the threat of punishment in the afterlife, then yes, you need a god—or some other being outside yourself—to make the threats that reinforce your morality in this life. Indeed, the rest of us also need you to have this being, if only to protect us from your lack of morality.

But if you behave because of the good that’s already in you and which you see in others, no god is required for you to be moral.

Goodness is its own reward for you.

Many religious people, especially those of a fundamentalist bent (like I used to be years ago), would have poor morals if they didn’t fear a punishing god. They’re attracted subconsciously to the idea of such a god, which is perhaps one reason why as adults they choose to believe in it.

These folks need that fear of punishment to keep them from hurting other people. You can see this tendency expressed in their zeal to condemn others, even if it’s disguised as enthusiasm for their own cause.

If a supernatural being identifying itself as “God” appeared to me and said that raping is good and killing is okay on Sundays, I would recognize that being as not God. Some people would immediately feel free to do these things, though, because (believing the being to be the “real” God) they would no longer fear afterlife punishment as a consequence.

As with any large group, not all religious-minded people are as I described here. Many of them would continue to be moral people—even without the threat of afterlife punishment—because they already have good in them.

This is perhaps one reason why as adults they choose to believe their religion’s strong moral teachings.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


On Believing Religious Writings

September 21, 2011

To believe something is to accept it uncritically—without having direct knowledge of it through your own experience. Religions are generally based on the uncritical acceptance of written doctrines and scriptures.

As such, religious leaders don’t typically permit believers to question the origin or truthfulness of the religion’s writings. If that happened, believers would leave the religions—and religious leaders would lose their paychecks.

Religious leaders’ income depends on the continued acceptance of certain beliefs among their followers.

Religious believers defend their beliefs because they are afraid to admit being wrong. That would mean a complete change in lifestyle on top of being wrong. Anyone with strong beliefs is the same, whether religious or not.

The way out of religious-minded thinking is to replace beliefs with direct knowledge and experience of life. Lots of people have done this, and anyone who really wants this experience can have it. It can be a long road, depending on what wrong beliefs you have now.

All religions teach something good (no matter how tiny that thing might be), and they all have something bad about them, too. Still, there is such a thing as following your own path, using gems from different religious systems to help guide your way. Most people don’t do this, though, because they believe they can’t.

Instead, they accept the religion of their family or community and just go along with whatever the religious leaders and writings tell them. (This is how suicide bombers are made, by the way.)

For more spiritually mature people who have gotten tired of asking questions and not getting answers, looking inward and following your own path is often a more attractive option. It’s a lonely road sometimes, but nothing is more rewarding.

The way to start on your own path of understanding (not belief) is to think and act with extreme honesty and an open mind. The rest is almost automatic. This works because life functions in a certain way, no matter what religious writings say about it.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


On Unifying Scientific Knowledge and Mystic Insight

September 8, 2011

Ever since I read a book called The Tao of Physics years ago, I’ve thought that quantum physics will become the area where science and religion truly start to mesh.

Quantum physics won’t finally prove or disprove beliefs like the resurrection or return of Christ or the Assumption of Mary; rather, it will show that many of the ideas that the Eastern, India-born religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) and Gnosticism teach are actually functioning principles of the real world—ideas like

  • uncertainty as true security;
  • change as absolute and good;
  • a continuously reproducing, self-sufficient, finite universe; and
  • the presence of consciousness in everything, not just biological life.

These are less Eastern principles than they are mystical or esoteric principles. Eastern religions are just as dogmatic as our Western ones, but the founders of both Eastern and Western religions were mystics who sought the truth on their own—and then were grossly misunderstood by many of their followers over time.

Science and religion are two belief systems. Neither one really describes what’s going on here, although they have their respective corners on the “world view” market.  Science is religion’s prodigal offspring. Whereas religion tends to make unverifiable pronouncements about the universe, science has striven to make verifiable predictions about the way things work.

Religion bred science, much like a holy-roller preacher might breed a pot-smoking hippie son: a result of the “pendulum effect.”

What I think we’re going to see as science and religion start to mesh is a unified, accurate description of Reality that is explained by the mystical among us (not the religious) and verified by the scientists. Somehow, some human beings seem to be wired in such a way that they can learn to perceive intuitively the workings of the universe without necessarily describing them in scientific terms or even knowing anything about quantum physics or general relativity.

We call these people “enlightened” or “awakened” or some such other term.

Maybe one of these people will turn out to be an influential scientist who can communicate equally well with both languages: science and mysticism, in the vein of Einstein. When examined beyond their differing descriptors, science and mysticism are really speaking the same language. They just look at things from different viewpoints.

To bridge the gap between science and mystical insight, we have to acknowledge the part of Reality that each describes: the outer (scientific knowledge) and the inner (mystic or esoteric insight). It’s very literally like uniting the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Each part has its function, purpose, and way of interpreting the universe, but it’s still one brain. Indeed, science is a left-brain function, while mysticism is all right brain.

It’s all one, if we can just see it! Both science and mysticism acknowledge this, in their own way. Science is seeking its “unified field theory” and mysticism seeks to unite the individual and God in some way. The end result is the same.

(Written in 2003 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)

 


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