Tim Wyatt – England
Around the world millions of self-avowed religious people from every single faith tirelessly carry out good works, promote love and offer assistance to the desperate and needy. But often there is a stark disconnect between the honourable actions of these individuals and the mind-set and behaviour of the religious traditions they embrace.
The truth is that dead letter religions increasingly make people angry. As you will note from the tone of this deliberately polemic article, I count myself among the agitated and disillusioned. And I am not alone in questioning the dark side of religious practice.
Many people find themselves caught in that No Man’s Land between atheism and religious adherence. In the West especially increasing numbers of people are choosing an alternative spiritual pathway beyond the grip of religion.
The findings of an opinion poll of Americans carried out in September 2017 by the Pew Research Center indicate clear evidence for this trend. More than a quarter of those questioned (27 per cent) described themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’ – a significant rise of eight per cent in just five years. In contrast the number of ‘religious and spiritual’ people showed a marked decline from 59 to 48 per cent over the same period.
My own perspective is thatreligions have become almost entirely hostile to human spirituality. They actively arrest rather than positively enhance it. And yet with religious sectarianism engulfing the world in increasing cycles of violence, bigotry and mayhem, should we not be more critical of the effect these archaic belief-systems have on this planet and its seven billion plus inhabitants? Are they all as bad as each other? Or does some kind of moral relativism apply?
The Catholic Church’s long and shameful litany of institutional child sex abuse may have been exposed but believers still flock to St Peter’s Square to be pontificated to by a man in robes.
In prayer and wearing a crown with bullets, blessing an AK-15 ... with God on our side …?
Not long after the latest school shooting in the US, an NRA-supporting, and rather obscure church in the rural Pocono Mountains, about 100 miles from Philadelphia, staged grotesquely kitsch ceremonies to bless AK-15 assault rifles.
Almost a millennium and a half since its inception, Islam unleashes carnage against both itself and unbelievers across the world in an eerily familiar re-run of Christianity’s own blood-drenched Reformation five centuries ago.
Hindu gangs kill those they suspect of disrespecting cows. Obscurer faiths continue to practice human sacrifice.
Rohingya father and daughter and son ... fleeing
Even blissed out Burmese Buddhists who profess that all life is sacred under the law of harmlessness commit murderous atrocities against tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims.
Religions have never been averse to violence. In fact, they’ve had a distinct penchant for it. And nothing at all has changed.
How many further atrocities and imbecilities do the world’s religions have to commit before they are finally discredited? How many more hypocrisies are they destined to inflict on a humanity long weary of their unremitting and ugly ancestry of oppression? How many more children will be raped, women mutilated and men murdered in the name of God? How many more lives will be shredded by guilt and de-vitalised by dead dogma? How much further can credulity be strained and human evolution hampered by these grotesquely outworn monoliths of manipulation masquerading as our spiritual saviours?
The Masters of the Wisdom have long warned that the next phase in the ongoing global war between the Forces of Light and Darkness will be played out in the religious domain – with possible fatal consequences for humanity.
Religions remain stark realities dictating the lives of millions, but they are relics. We habitually persist with them because we are not free-thinkers liberated to devise and pursue meaningful alternatives. They no longer serve us well – if they ever did. Religions are for children not independent spiritual adventurers. Today, as in the past, they have less to do with spiritual development than with the harsh politics of command and control.
Although they and their potent thought-forms will linger on for many generations to come, they have become more of a hindrance to mankind than an evolutionary tool. Apart from being hidebound by dogma, tradition and empty ritual, they demand conformity and resent questions, especially those awkward metaphysical ones. They are built on blind faith and hollow worship. And above all they are the world’s principal incubator for conflict. In the future we may come to regard them as dangerous pollutants of the human soul.
All religions have become perversions of eternal truths. Whilst preaching love, the realpolitik of religions is coercion and brutality. This is because religions however outwardly benign inevitably become political. There are few if any exceptions.
Usually authoritarian and monolithic, religion’s most persistent crime is to separate us from divinity rather than promoting the natural cohesion and inseparability of all existence in all domains. They preach God transcendent not God immanent.
There have been repeated warnings about the clear and present dangers religion present by those in a position to have the greatest overview – the most advanced members of humanity. In the often-quoted Mahatma Letter number 10 Koot Hoomi wrote to A. P. Sinnet in 1882:
“I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity.”
It is debated to what extent religions succeeded in instilling rudimentary morality and quenching that early spiritual thirst in primitive humanity. Clearly, they played some role. But this sense of guiding ethics is now no longer suitable for a humanity struggling through its troublesome adolescent years and into the independence of young adulthood. Religions want you to remain child-like and shackled to the playpen forever. This is incompatible with our destiny as spiritual beings.
Although they prey on individual susceptibilities, religions of all shades have tended not to be about individual evolution at all but more about mass manipulation. They have claimed a total monopoly on spirituality by always insisting that divinity can only be accessed through their exclusive portals. It is forbidden to achieve this independently. It must always remain under the rigorous scrutiny and mediation of gate-keepers known as priests, mullahs, monks or others of supposedly lofty office.
These religions and their enforcers have effectively hijacked the human spirit and held it to ransom. Blinkered, arthritic and authoritarian faiths have proved to be a major brake on human development because they have blinded humanity to its real objectives and true purpose. They have aggressively hampered human progress rather than stimulated it. It is hard to find any religion of the East or West which has not systematically marginalized, downgraded or persecuted women.
They have been less about sublime truths and more about enforcing orthodoxy and crushing dissent. The last thing those in the religious hierarchies want is for its followers to think for themselves. Free-thinking is the ultimate anathema in all faiths prominent or obscure.
Now more than ever it is imperative for human beings to discover the truth about their own spiritual nature – especially in a world fragmented by archaic and warring spiritual traditions playing out their own blood feuds. Unless and until we do discover this deeper truth we may be planting the seeds of our own annihilation. Sadly, there is not a great deal of evidence that this is happening beyond small minorities. Realistically there is little chance of this major unshackling from religious bondage taking place any time soon. And this leaves us with a global structural problem.
If anything, adherence to the phoney notions and dubious ideas peddled by religions is being ratchetted up. Fundamentalists are becoming more fundamental and those who read holy texts literally are becoming yet more literal. Insisting that religion is irrelevant is as misguided as believing that nuclear weapons pose no threat.
Humanity simply cannot advance while it remains paralysed by constantly regurgitated anachronisms and highly embellished untruths. Religions be they organised or otherwise no longer serve us well. They act only as the bricks, mortar, bars and steel doors of jails. Even so, few are brave enough to stand up and admit that they have failed spectacularly. In many parts of the world doing so means signing your own death warrant.
The three Abrahamic religions – so called religions of the book – have become grotesque examples of pseudo-spirituality. Antagonistic to one another, the irony is that Christianity, Islam and Judaism all share an uncannily similar pedigree and ingredients. All three of these ‘desert religions’ were created by bearded men wandering the sandy wastes of the Middle East. All have a death-fuelled track record of demanding unquestioning faith. All are authoritarian. Each one of them (despite the vast amount they hold in common) insists that it alone is correct, and the others are total liars.
Even within these three broad streams, numerous competing sects vie for supremacy by conducting internecine warfare with their rivals within and outside their own brand of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Each one of them is convinced that it is sole custodian of the real truth and the rest are just imposters or apostates. Like most other religions, Christianity has atomised. The United States alone has around 50,000 registered Christian religious organisations.
This process is even beginning to corrode that greatest of all ecclesiastical monoliths, The Catholic Church. It is gradually being dissolved by scandal after scandal as fresh revelations emerge about historical and industrial-scale child abuse. A few centuries ago in Europe, merely questioning the word of the Christian Church consigned millions to the rack or the flames. Even after the Church split into Catholicism and Protestantism, the violent fury continued with a fresh zeal. Today radical elements within Islam offer that same bleak binary choice – believe or be murdered. These groups live up to their word every single day.
Religions of whatever persuasion may offer cosy comfort to the unthinking but for anyone seeking to know the true nature of reality they are Public Enemy Number One. The problem is that like the billions of tons of waste plastic floating in our oceans they will take centuries to dislodge and dismantle because of the overwhelmingly powerful and crystallised thought-forms with which they have enshrouded the globe – not just in the physical realms but deeply penetrating the astral and mental planes, too.
The glaring irony is that all religions have at their root and core the timeless universal laws expounded by the Ageless Wisdom – especially love-wisdom. But these have been disguised, defiled and disfigured beyond recognition before being utterly concealed by the detritus of dogma. The pattern of all religions is that they become travesties and perversions of these noble truths. Literalism and dead letter doctrine are always their hallmarks.
While demanding unquestioning subservience and blind faith, the Abrahamic religions especially have provided only the woolliest answers to the most fundamental questions of existence. Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? What’s our purpose?
Admittedly, in their earliest forms these primitive spiritual cabals may have provided a crude sanctuary from savagery, a bulwark against ignorance and a means of instilling basic morality and satisfying basic religious awe. But religions have not only failed to be responsive to human development, they have actively tried to arrest it. There is no place for this slavish conformity any longer if human beings are finally to awaken and come of age. As a friend of mine put it: “We would probably have had someone on the moon by 1400 had it not been for the Catholic Church.”
Esotericists frequently speak in fond and breathy tones of the need for an emerging world religion which would unite humanity by blending together all these pugnacious faiths. But this is likely to produce something even more toxic, monolithic and control-orientated than any of its constituent parts and would wind up as a spiritually authoritarian version of NATO, the European Union or The Nazi Party.
In the future – the very far future – perhaps we shall be emboldened enough to relinquish religion altogether. Maybe we will forsake its cramped gloomy corridors and abandon its narrow assumptions in favour of a wisdom culture which has individual and collective human psycho-spiritual development at its very heart. None of this will be either devotional or dogmatic but of enormous practical assistance in liberating those billions of possible paths to personal and planetary evolution.
When religion is abandoned we will worship nothing but consciousness, spirit and the inter-connectedness and mutual interdependency of all life. We will have neither the time, ignorance nor energy to devote to pandering to false gods and their peccadilloes – only the real forces of nature and the cosmos. This true spiritual consciousness will not separate but unite. The real road to salvation will be that everyone has their own religion and therefore none.