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Enlightening The Dark Side of Religion
Nature is Enlightened
History Shows That Religion Can Become Violent
There is a very dark side to all religions, because they are man-made; and, I do mean human-made and male-made. I studied for the Catholic priesthood for ten years, and studied the New Testament in three languages. It appears to me that the last thing Jesus Christ wanted, for example, was to start another religion. What he wanted was to teach us how to become compassionate, balanced, integrated, awakened human beings like he was. That was his real legacy and, after two thousand years of writing and talking about his example, we are still unfinished and asleep.
Last week another attack on the Christian community in Egypt killed twenty-one and injured many. This week the Westboro Baptist Church announced they will picket, with their hate messages, the funeral of those gunned down in Tucson, and thanked God for their deaths.They said that the shooter was sent by God. Then, there are the cheering crowds that gathered to support the admitted assassin who riddled the governor of Punjab, Pakistan with 26 bullets and to praise his attack — carried out in the name of the Prophet Muhammad — as an act of heroism, because the governor supported the repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws. Religions do this, and have always done this, because they do not have the confidence in their own believe systems that allows them to at least tolerate those who have different or opposing beliefs. They are inherently dangerous when they feel threatened and their leaders fear that “rival” religions may lure their followers away. One thing history has taught us is that All Religions Are Ticking Time Bombs.
One of the benefits religion has offered is a structure for those who feel the need for external moral control, and in this sense religion has played a useful civilizing role through the ages as humans have been growing up. Religion becomes a surrogate parent, and followers are often programmed from birth to follow a specific set of guidelines, rules, or beliefs. However, when those guidelines no longer fulfill their needs, they may look for another set or group that fits them better. Thus, the movement from religion to religion, and a source of the clash of religions. As humans have continued to grow up, however, there are more and more who no longer need religion, because they have reached new levels of consciousness which shows them that there is a much more natural way to find the security and moral stability they seek. There are those among us who may still look for a guru or master to guide them in discovering a path to “enlightenment,” or clarity. What they will find if they reach enlightenment, or maturity, is that their path to clarity has existed within themselves all the time, and their guide to that clarity and security has always been an integral part of their own being.
The Farmer and the Enlightened Visitor
There is an illuminating story of a farmer in India who was working in his field and saw a man walking toward him down the road. This person was radiant, with a light beaming from him and around him. When he came close, the farmer asked him, “Sir, please tell me, are you a god?”
“No, I’m not” responded the radiant man, smiling.
“Are you a guru, then,” asked the farmer?
“No, I’m not that either,” giggled the man.
“Well, please tell me then, sir, what you are,” pleaded the farmer.
“I’m awake,” laughed the man, as he walked on down the road.
What is Enlightenment and Do We Need It?
humans are still evolving and learning how to wake up from our deep
sleep, much of it caused by our addiction to belief systems and the
external guidance of religion. When we finally realize that we have all
the guidance we need right within ourselves, we can breath a sigh of
relief, learn how to go within and find our own guide to enlightenment,
to awakening, which is really a part of our own being. Enlightenment is
just another stage of growing up. Although a truly awakened master can
assist in that process by pointing out how to go within, the truth is
that each of us has our own guide within us that has been with us since
birth and is ready and able to guide us to clarity, or enlightenment.
Unfortunately, there have been those who have made it seem that
enlightenment is only for a rare few and very difficult to attain, when
it is not. It is for all of us and no more difficult than waking up from
a deep sleep. Asking if we need to be enlightened is like asking if we
need to use our own brain.
It looks like we have been duped for eons into believing that we need an all-knowing, all-wise father-figure to take us by the hand and lead us through the dangers and confusions of life. Finally, we are growing up, maturing, evolving to the point where we know that what we really need is to learn how to go within ourselves and unite with our spirit that will take us where we are ready to go. Now, although this inner journey to enlightenment, or turning the light on, is not nearly as romantic nor exciting as traveling to India to find a master, it certainly is much less expensive and uncomfortable. We can do it in the comfort of our own home, kind of like gradually turning up the dimmer switch in a darkened room so we don’t trip over those child’s toys in our way.