I was raised in a religious household and attended religious schools as a boy, experiencing the ins and 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 arsehole like a five-star continental breakfast. Yup, it is safe to say that I stepped away after having developed enough perspective to see through its blatant hypocrisy, falsehoods, discrimination and judgements, which it openly declares as 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 the great majority of religious folk, who for the most part, are very kind, peaceful and loving people. It is with the system of religion itself and it’s lack of leadership regarding steering its many followers in a direction of world unity. Instead, religious leaders interpret the teachings of their prophet to mean that some lives are worth more than others, which is a misguided perspective that sadly fuels a vast amount of cruel behaviour, adding much suffering to our world community.
Essentially, religion has two fundamental principles: it provides stylised and structured prophet/deity/God worshipping methods, and offers a moral guidance system which grants a person a kind-of bench mark of good behaviour.
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 greedy shareholders.
Collectively our species may be intelligent, but it is most definitely 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 20s after a traumatic period of suicidal depression, I’ve experienced the powers of meditation, psychedelics and the study of mysticism upon the maturation of my consciousness.
This journey has included several profound, transformative and transcendent experiences, which have utterly changed my life. For the record, these are not unique to me, many people all over the world have experienced varying levels of spiritual awakenings, which are becoming more common. I truly believe that our species has begun to collectively evolve.
Keeping this in mind, I can comfortably say that the software of my consciousness feels like it has been well and truly upgraded, so to speak. I feel that I am a very different person now compared to the person who I used to be, as a direct result of my venturing inwards. My family and friends have witnessed and commented on this transformation, which is proof enough for me that the change is not an illusion of my imagination. For the record, this journey must have been as strange for them to observe as it has been for me to have lived.
It is impossible to experience higher states of consciousness and return to earth as 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, as the only tools used by religion are prayer and worship – which don’t do anything for the development of consciousness. Prayer and worship might bring comfort to a believer but they do not help the soul to develop. Plus, following the moral guidance of a religious system does not bestow goodness upon a person by default (as many of its followers naively believe). Consider the amount of avoidable suffering that is added to the world by various corrupt religious institutions, believing their behaviour to be morally superior and blessed by a higher power.
In my opinion, 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. The words that the various religious systems are based upon are not the pure and holy teachings that many innocently believe them to be. By adhering to the outdated perspectives of a religious system one keeps oneself chained to a lower level of consciousness, specifically at the consciousness level of the system’s author at the time it was written.
I say this because religious institutions believe that their holy texts are the unquestionable word of ‘God’. However, anyone who has experienced for themselves the higher mystical realms will testify that the further one’s consciousness transcends, the more one 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 rather than the profound wisdom of a higher being.
Any true spiritual teaching would be based on universal oneness, promoting unity, freedom of choice, inclusivity, peace, fairness, feminism, respect for nature, equality and mutual respect of differences – the exact opposite of the 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 as 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 in order to prevent itself from adding further pain to a world that is in desperate need of love and healing.
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 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 adjustment or updating of their holy texts, as it would undermine the sanctity of their meaning, which would undermine their credibility as the guardians of these texts and as community leaders to their trusting followers. Their luxurious lives and power base would subsequently be negatively affected, 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 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 the worship of a God – guiding people towards their own spiritual self-realisation instead of solely relying upon the sharing of stories of their prophet’s experience of self-realisation.
Worship keeps people’s attention directed externally, but it has been proven time-and-time again over many thousands of years that a person can only elevate their consciousness by directing their focus internally. It is consistently reaching for the soul that indirectly stimulates our spiritual evolution, not praying and listening to some well meaning, but often morally redundant nitwit prattle-on about a prophet.
A direct spiritual connection is meant for everyone, not just the characters of ancient religious stories.
As I said, religious institutions have much invested in keeping its followers distracted with pointless worship preventing any kind of real spiritual maturity, and 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 light.
If religious communities used the energy they spend on worship on 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.
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 a few suggestions…
- 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 various deities; these experiences are for everyone, not just a chosen few.
- Let love be the guide, instead of religious texts. It is 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 were 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.
- Ignore the perspectives and guidance of religious institutions and 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.
- Religious community is important to many, but belonging to a group should not mean being morally-blind, following a flock of sheep that judge, excludes, divides and discriminates. Set-up your own community or prayer group, but make the core principles of your group be that of love, inclusion and unity.
It is 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 respectfully 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.