The Error of Religious Belief
A born-again Christian handed me an envelope. It contained a message (apparently from God) that I was a sinner, with a pamphlet on what awaited me in hell unless I repented. It’s undeniable that many Christians, and those of other religions, have a deep love of God. This often manifests as an impulse to help or convert others to their particular faith. Although inwardly moved, and perhaps driven by the intensity of their spiritual convictions, many of these people ultimately inflict more suffering on those they intend to save.
It’s only necessary to believe in something that cannot be demonstrated as a living truth every moment. To believe in Jesus, for example, involves the visualisation of an image, often depicted in Renaissance paintings as a man with blond hair and blue eyes. Does anyone know what Jesus the man looked like? It’s the same in the Buddhist religion and the portrayal of the Buddha with those monolithic statues. Why is it necessary to believe in anything? Would it change the inherent love of God to have to face reality without any artificial props and the belief in an external saviour?
Belief involves taking a position of mind, which attracts an opposing force. Any particular position will be defended as an attitude or centre of ignorance. When stirred by religious fervor, it inevitably leads to conflict and violence between the believers of different faiths. Holy wars and acts of terrorism are fuelled by the fanaticism of the followers and those vulnerable to the persuasion of radical views. It was the same with the missionaries who went into the New World to convert the tribal people, who in their innocence were still connected to the nature of the earth. Those who survived were all infected with religious dogma and the need for belief in something completely alien to their culture.
Religion is an aberration of the mind. It is not the truth because it evolved in time as a desperate attempt by humanity to stay connected to the original state of being. As humanity extended further away from love, the progressive world began to deplete the virtue of the human race and it became harder to connect with the timeless realm. Various masters and spiritual teachers who had realised the truth of life endeavoured to guide those who were receptive back to the inner reality; but when they died, their followers and priests soon corrupted their teachings through religious dogma and reverence for ritual and ceremony.
All belief systems signify a specific level of self-knowledge comparable to an individual’s receptivity to the truth. The religious idea, from which all beliefs arise, is a living archetype of the struggle of humanity in its search for spiritual liberation. It provides a lifeline for an individual undertaking a journey of self-discovery, so as to be reassured through the experience of someone else. It’s a step that has to be transcended in order to rise above the limitations of human understanding. Many Christian saints and mystics had to pass through the threshold from belief to direct spiritual knowledge by having to abandon their emotional relationship with the mind-induced images from the psyche. And this applies to anyone who dares to be vulnerable to the simplicity of life.
To transcend belief is to discover a place of freedom which is not reliant on the past as any reference to the truth in the present. When the mind is disengaged and the emotional self is quiescent, an individual’s intelligence reflects directly off the intellect. The intellect is a perfect mirror attuned to the higher levels of mind. Its function is to activate the ideas preserved within the eternal mind. One of these ideas is impersonal love. As far as I’ve observed in people (like the earnest born-again Christian who was compelled to ‘save’ me from eternal damnation), the main impediment to direct knowledge of reality is personal love. The person, and all that is known, is the attachment to existence which keeps someone firmly rooted to their own sub-creation.
The spiritual perception has no images or voices, but is pure knowledge without the need to know. Nothing, that is, except that life is good and all is well in the world.