I was raised in a religious household and attended religious schools as a boy; experiencing first-hand, the ins-&-outs of a religious system.
As I matured as a teenager, I distanced myself from religion in the same way that I once distanced myself from my friend’s lick-happy dog after having observed it slowly and enthusiastically demolish its own rear-end like a five-star continental breakfast. Yup, it’s safe to say that I stepped away after having developed enough perspective to see through its blatant hypocrisy, falsehoods, discrimination and judgments, which it openly declares are the will of ‘God’, not to be questioned or analysed; just obeyed.
Before I continue, let me be clear; any issue that I may have with religion is not with a great number of religious folk, who for the most part, are very kind, peaceful and loving people; it’s with the system of religion itself and its closed-minded (and closed-hearted) zealous followers who judge & discriminate others.
Essentially, religion has two fundamental principles; it provides a stylised and structured prophet & God worshiping method, simultaneously offering a moral guidance system, granting a person a kind-of bench mark of good behaviour to aim for when going about one’s day.
For many people, these are useful tools and who am I to disagree with that?! We all need something different to help us get through life and its various challenges; each to their own.
However, I personally believe that our species has now come to an uncomfortable and dangerous crossroads, either we evolve and climb out of the pit we have created for ourselves, or we perish at the hands of our own reckless and self-destructive nature.
For example, the manner in which our species treats its own habitat is an outward reflection of how we treat ourselves. Only a species gone completely mad would indirectly destroy the environment on which it depends for its own survival, for the sake of short term profit for greed-addicted share holders.
Collectively, our species may be intelligent, but it most definitely is not wise.
We need to wake-up and begin making the right kind-of changes or we will face catastrophic consequences.
How does this connect to religion?
After exploring a personal path of spirituality for many years now, which began in my late 20’s after a traumatic period of suicidal depression, I’ve experienced for myself the consciousness-maturing powers of meditation, psychedelics and the study of mysticism.
This journey has included several profound and transformative transcendental experiences, which utterly changed my life.
With all of this combined, I can comfortably say that the software of my consciousness feels like it has been well & truly upgraded, so-to-speak. I feel that I’m a very different person now, compared to person who I used to be, as a direct result of my journey inwards. My family and friends have witnessed and commented on this transformation, which is proof enough for me that the change is not illusory trick of my imagination). For the record, this journey must have been as strange for them to have observed, as it has been for me to have lived.
It’s impossible to experience higher states of consciousness and return to earth the same person. Experiencing universal oneness and the interconnectedness of everything, will do that to you.
I do not share these words to gloat or to pat myself on the back, but to simply highlight the effectiveness of the various methods used by spiritual seekers to develop their consciousness. These sentiments are not unique to me; they are also echoed by anyone who has vested the time and effort into connecting to the spirit within; as when we reach for the soul, the soul reaches back.
Religious systems do not utilise any consciousness development methods whatsoever, as the only tools used by religion are prayer and worship and these do absolutely nothing for the development of one’s consciousness. Prayer and worship might bring comfort to a believer, but they do not help one’s soul evolve. Plus, following the moral guidance of a religious system doesn’t automatically bestow goodness upon a person by default (as many of its followers naively believe); as look at the amount of avoidable suffering that is added to the world by huge numbers of religious followers, believing their behaviour to be morally superior and blessed by a higher power.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that a religious system is an anchor around a person’s neck weighing them down, actually preventing the development of their consciousness, because the words that religious systems are based upon, are not the pure and holy teachings that their followers believe them to be. By adhering to the outdated perspectives of a religious system, one keeps oneself chained to a lower level of consciousness, being the consciousness level of that system’s author at the time that it was written.
I say this because religious institutions believe that their holy texts are the unquestionable word of ‘God’. However, anyone who’s directly experienced for their self, the higher mystical realms will testify, that the further one’s consciousness transcends; the more one directly experiences unity and oneness with everything. This is how I personally know that these religious texts are merely the outdated words of men, because they are divisive, judgemental, misogynistic and non-inclusive. These teachings reflect the immaturity of the authors, more than the profound wisdom of a higher being.
Any true spiritual teaching would be based around universal oneness, promoting unity, freedom of choice, inclusivity, peace, fairness, feminism, respect of nature, equality and mutual respect of differences; the exact opposite as to what message all religions peddle.
For example, look at the religious perspectives of the LGBT community, of women, of other faiths and non-believers. Religious division has caused humanity more chaotic and destructive turbulence than anything else in the history of our species; it manifests the very opposite of what it says it promotes. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
This is a problem for the evolution of our species when religion has been (and still is) responsible for a vast amount of suffering and conflict. It causes more problems than it solves and needs to change, to prevent itself from adding further pain to a world that is in desperate need of love.
It is time for religion to evolve or be left behind.
Religious texts were written a very long time ago and humanity has evolved a lot since then, these texts have been outgrown by the intellectual and moralistic development of our species.
Religions haven’t changed for thousands of years because the priesthoods that have been built around them have much invested in these systems remaining the same. These institutions have accumulated vast amounts of power and wealth in upholding the profitable ‘middlemen’ position between its followers and their interpretation of ‘God’. If people were to experience for their selves, higher states of consciousness and universal oneness; they would realise that these priesthoods were not only unnecessary, but also highly corrupt and hypocritical; far from being the spiritual role models that they make themselves out to be.
It is the institutions that do not allow the adjustment or updating of their holy texts, as it would undermine the sanctity of their meaning, which would then undermine their credibility as the guardians of these texts and as community leaders to their followers. Their luxurious lives would be subsequently and negatively affected as direct consequence of this; therefore, it is in their best interests to keep everything as it has been, keeping their followers chained to outdated and destructive systems purely for their own selfish gain, refusing to do anything that would potentially jeopardise their power-base and finances.
Higher realms of consciousness do not need priesthoods guarding their gates; far from it. If these people were sincere in their role as spiritual mentors, they would be promoting consciousness development, not prophet and God worship; guiding people towards their own spiritual self-realisation, instead of solely relying upon the sharing of stories of a prophet’s experience of self-realisation.
Worship keeps people’s attention directed externally, whereas it’s been proven time-and-time again over many thousands of years, that a person can only elevate their consciousness by directing their focus inwards. It is by consistently reaching for the soul that indirectly stimulates our spiritual evolution, not praying and listening to some morally-redundant child rapist prattle-on about a prophet.
Direct spiritual connection is meant for everyone, not just the characters of the ancient religious stories.
As I say, religious institutions have much invested in keeping its followers distracted with pointless worship; preventing any kind of real spiritual maturity, demanding people’s full dependency, as this keeps the priesthoods in a powerful and profitable role. However, by doing this, they are keeping a huge amount people locked into old belief systems that divide and cause conflict, adding avoidable darkness to a culture in desperate need of love.
If religious communities spent the energy they expend on worship on instead developing their connection to their own spirit; it would change everything. As a spiritually-connected person is more loving, patient and tolerant; taking a vested interest in the greater good of the collective. The greatest gift we could ever bestow upon the world is the gift of our own spiritual evolution, as like ripples on a garden pond; the positive side effects of that transformation expand outwards into the community. All the relationships in the life of a spiritually-connected person are greatly improved by their matured level of consciousness.
It’s safe to say that consciousness development adds more love to the world than worship, yet worship takes centre stage in every religious system, sadly.
Religious institutions are not going to willingly choose to evolve their methods, so what can religious folk do to take charge of their own consciousness development?
Here are my suggestions…
1) Add a proven consciousness development method to your spiritual practice, such as meditation, Kundalini yoga or psychedelics exploration (to name but a few). Prayer, worship and moral guidance aren’t enough on their own to elevate a person’s consciousness to higher levels. The aim is to experience for oneself, the kind-of mystical experiences spoken about by the prophets. As I say, these experiences are for everyone, not just a chosen few.
2) Let love be the guide, instead of religious texts. It’s okay to be inspired by religious scripture, as long as those words are not creating a divide between one person and another. Remember, anything that does not promote love, inclusion and unity was sadly written by influential men guided by their own shortcomings, disguised or mistaken as ‘God’s will’. When in doubt as to how to act or respond in any given situation, ask yourself ‘what would love do in this situation?’ and do that instead.
3) Ignore the perspectives and guidance of religious institutions & their corrupt leaders, as they do not have your best interests at heart. Instead, develop the courage to become an independent person of your faith, letting love… and only love, guide your actions.
4) Religious community is important to many, but belonging to a group shouldn’t be at the expense of being a morally-blind sheep following a flock that judges, excludes, divides and discriminates. Set-up your own community or prayer group if you must, but make the core principles of your group be that of love, inclusion and unity.
It’s time for our species to evolve and religion has proven itself to be an obstacle in the way of this.
At the core of each of the purest of spiritually philosophical teachings was the simple message of love. It is time to return to that level of simplicity; as love includes all, excludes none and bridges all divides.
As we can all agree, our world needs that now more than ever.
If you are offended by any of the views I have expressed here, I ask you to please keep your offence to yourself; as the religious crowd can be a passionate and vocal bunch. However, any negative comments will be ignored and immediately deleted. I simply wish to share perspectives, not invite heated and hostile correspondence into my life.
If you are overwhelmed by the urge to vent at me, I ask you to simply move on with your life, find something online that you DO like and use that explosive creative energy to leave a positive comment about that instead.
Use your words to celebrate instead of criticise.
Let your focus be love instead of hate.