What Religion to Believe
By George Mera
It is never respectful to talk about politics, sex or religion, not even philosophy, there was a pub in England with a sign outside the establishment reading, philosophers and dogs are not allowed.
The reason why is not polite to talk about these topics is that our ego is so impregnated with these concepts, that we tend to defend our opinions as we defend the fort of our personalities, and we get offended with opposing opinions as we were personally insulted.
When politics, sex, and religion are mixed the prelude of trouble began, that is why all religions try to keep sex and politics separated from faith.
My intention is not to insult or to mock any faith, I'm not in favor or against any of these religions, I enjoy all of them without clinging to any, I'm just exercising comparative thinking.
In Eastern traditions they want you to have a mystical experience to have doubts and questions to explore your subconscious mind in western traditions they want you to have faith to believe, to adhere to dogma and don't move too much the waters of faith.
As a kid I was raised in a Catholic school, one day I made a mistake asking some improper questions which denoted my lack of faith; once I asked did Adam have navel, I know it was an irreverent mistake; because regarding religious matters, there is no room for humor, and you have to be absolutely serious.
In my school, they always remind us that we were sinners so my question was How God that is all perfection can create something as imperfect as me and whose fault? The questions were not welcomed and I was in trouble for being arrogant and not humble to God.
In Eastern tradition liberation or awakening is emphasized, in Western tradition surrender to God and church is necessary for the salvation of our souls since we all are in life, in some kind of probation hence excommunication is the most extreme punishment.
I had to recognize that I was naïve at that time, I wanted to use logic to understand the metaphors and paradigms, but I couldn't put my intellectual, logical and scientific knowledge in one compartment of my mind and the religious with all this fantastic things, some of them difficult to swallow, in the another compartment of my brain.
Religion is like poetry you can't fight over poetry, it cannot be taken literally since all religions try to explain the ineffable, intangible and inexplicable, things which words cannot express so metaphors and stories are used as tools.
There are three significant currents of thinking which influence the world's religions, the Hebrew, Indian and Chinese, each one represents the education, awareness, and condition of living which these cultures experienced in ancient times.
The Hebrew, Christian, and Islam traditions have the same origin, they believed that the universe was organized similar that an emperor's court; the emperor rules over his subjects with physical and spiritual power, this is a political view transported to heaven, so it is always referred to as the kingdom of heavens, this ancient believed is advocated in reminiscence of the emperor's court before the Persian empire, at that time the emperors were sitting on a throne, against a wall, higher than the rest of the court in order to spot any possible conspirator, and any person who approached the throne, had to kneel in front of him so his guards can be perceived if there were armed or dangerous.
The metaphor was a kingdom or a court or the relationship between, creator and creature a father and the son or shepherd and sheep. There are three basic distinctions in this type of religion, the distinction between God and you, God being superior and your creator to whom you can only feel gratitude and adoration. The second distinction between good and evil they are irreconcilable concepts, one is malice and need to be destroyed at all cost, the beginning of these religions is the story of the rebellion of the angels and the fallen of Lucifer into the earth.
The third distinction is between people, we are completely different individuals you and I are not the same. The pillars of these religions are the 3 C's. Creed: a divine revelation of how things have been made and God being the only and supreme architect of this reality. Code: an established set of moral rules to how to behave in our lives in order to please God, and Cult: the proper ritual and sacrifices to worship God.
The individual goal is to live according to the precept of morality, glorifying God and destroying the evil which is growing inside us. If we behaved according to with God's desire we will get rewarded at the end of our lives and obtain a space in the kingdom of heavens. What makes this difficult is that we possess an original sin; there is two kinds of sin, Mortal sin that is a great violation of the law and deserves Hell and Venial sin or forgivable sin.
There is a stage previous to heaven; where souls which die in the state of grace, who committed just Venial sins, can purify to be ready for heaven, this place is called purgatory where cleansing is necessary, this purification involves painful punishment, associated with the idea of fire.
If we died in Mortal sin then we go to hell, a place where souls suffer for eternity an everlasting agony. Judaism doesn't believe in Hell but in Gehenna, which is similar to the purgatory.
In the Vedic, Hindu, Jainism and Buddhism they are influenced by the image of Brahma as an actor who is on a stage, it is the metaphor of a Drama. Brahman or the supreme consciousness is in a theatre playing all the characters since he is alone he is the audience and the actors wearing all the masks being all the personas. Persona is the mask that in ancient Rome and Greek's theater the actors used to be in character and the mask had a device inside to amplify the voice is called per sound and personality comes from that word, it is a mask that we all ware. We are all in life playing the character which we are allowed to, chosen or get away with.
Brahman as a good actor put the audience at the edge of their chairs, he is so believable that makes us cry, laugh or take the part of the underdog but at the end of the drama, after the applause finished, people continue with their lives. Brahman is playing a game of hiding and seek he is hidden in you in the stars and mountains and the whole idea is to awake this divinity that we all have inside before we die, he is playing all the characters wearing all the masks including your mask, we are Brahman with amnesia in disguise, we have to wake up from the illusion of the drama but Brahman is playing incredibly well that he himself forgot he is playing.
For this tradition we are part of God, he didn't create us, but we are sleeping we are dreaming and we need to wake up we need to awake of the illusion that everything in the universe is separated from everything else, on the contrary the communion with the rest of the universe is called nirvana or Samadhi.
There are two kinds of people, Buddha, and people that don't know they are Buddha, so is not necessary to acquire anything, we are already complete, we just need to disperse the clouds of doubts and see who we really are, there are many different ways to awake, these methods are called Upaya or Yana, a technique or tool.
In India when a person is having a mystical experience and perceives the whole universe as part of him, when he is feeling from inside this awakening to God, he will feel out of compassion, responsible for waking up everybody else, he might declare that he is with no doubts God and he might have a method to teach for liberation.
Then people will try with questions to poke deep into his knowledge, asking what techniques he used, they have legitimate interest since they want also to be awake, the knowledge in Eastern tradition is dialectic, a dialog between the student and master one has the question the other the answer, if you are not satisfied with the answer you find another teacher but what is important is not the answer but the quality of the question, the profundity of the disciple mind, and if they are convinced that he is, in fact, an awakened one, they will follow as disciples until they become enlighten themselves.
On the other hand in this part of the world if you declare that you are God, people will call immediately 911 because you are probably delusional and maybe dangerous, our frame of mind is different and the idea of impersonating God is blasphemy and ridiculous and many of the individuals who are experiencing an unusual state of consciousness end up in a mental institution.
For the Hindu or Vedic tradition, you are the dismember of God, that is the reason to salute with the word Namaste, meaning I honor the divinity inside your body, you are pretending you are who you are but I know you are God in disguise in front of me, you are Brahman hidden in that mask you are wearing, you don't fool me I can feel it, we are all working in taking out our own mask so one day we can be together we can realize we are one.
So how it can be so much evil in the world, well, like in any good story a good villain is necessary, to make things interesting, so Brahman is playing the part of the felon sometimes he overacts and the drama turns dreadful and violent, in any case he is only doing it to himself and remember is only a drama, the actor doesn't really kill the other actor in the stage.
Brahma is the name for the principle which creates all of the manifest realms. Brahma decided to play the game of acting for a cycle or Manvantara.
The first part of the cycle is called (Satya or Krita Yuga) and last for 1,728,000 years, this is considered the golden age, the age of truth, or perfect harmony in the world, Brahman was still remembering who he was and he was just playing a game.
The second cycle is (Treta Yuga) and lasts for 1,296,000 years; vice and corruption started in this epoch, Brahman is kind of bored and the drama intensifies.
The third cycle is (Dwapara Yuga) and last 864,000 years in this cycle Brahman in the drama is looking for pleasure so the standards of morality decline, Brahman is to involve in the drama.
The fourth and last cycle is (Kali Yuga) and lasts for 432,000 years, it is the complete destruction, the time of darkness, the drama is out of control and we are living in this last cycle it began at midnight on February 18 3102 BC.
At the end of the Kali Yuga Brahman is tired of the game he is been playing for 4,320,000 years, and like a chess player who knows is going to lose in the next move, throws all the pieces to the floor ending up the game, then he will go to sleep for another 4,320,000 Years, he will wake up with no recollection of the drama he played and one day he will decide again to act in a drama, initiating another cycle, at the end of that Kali Yuga he will fall asleep again, this drama has been repeating and repeating ad infinitum.
For the Chinese tradition of Taoist, the universe is neither an empire nor a drama. The universe is an organism, something which is growing from within.
In this organization every part counts and is essential, equal, nothing is considered small or big, the universe is constantly communicating with all the parts, this continued flux of energy is always searching for some kind of stillness and harmony. All materials and energy in this organization fallow a perpetual regeneration; the universe is an entity, which is continuously evolving within itself with unceasing probabilities.
What makes possible the phenomenon of changes is the two poles present in every event in the universe Yin and Yang, they are opposites and like a broken magnet the pieces attract and repulse each other; the theory of electricity and magnetism in science.
The path of energy in the entire universe is called the Tao, the way; according to with ancient knowledge humankind should be natural in order to feel the subtle movement of the universe; thus life is not a destination but a path, and if relaxation is achieved, there is less resistance and life's beauty is manifested and we feel swimming with the force that the whole universe is moving, we can acquire this force so we can change direction and avoid obstacles.
The intention is to feel that your actions in life are not separated from what the Universe is doing, that your behavior in life is transcending polarities, perceiving that life flows and you flow with it, Tao means to surrender to nature, let it go, do not interfere, don't try to control every event but let some space for randomness in your life.
Tao does not create a desire for worship, because it is impersonal, it is like a law of nature, like a gravitational force. That why is not organized religion is an organic belief, it is an individual religion, based on the importance of the ancestors as you continue the path that they started before you.
Every single person in the universe is part of this organism, we are all a microcosm of the macrocosm, we are all together doing the same although we don't see this connection, since we are in the picture we cannot see the picture, therefore life will always be a mystery, we all, in essence, possess the DNA of the whole universe, we are like a drop of the sea, analyzing this drop we can know the composition of all the oceans.
A Chinese kid will never ask how was I made he will ask how was I grown, Chinese will never say when you come into this world they will say when you come out of this world, because we grow from the earth as any plant does, if you think you come into this world, you might feel thrown into this reality maybe with violence and without asking your opinion, we might perceive that we don't belong here, so we might react as we need to conquer of fight instead to flow like a leave in the stream.
So there is no promise of better place for you after this life, you will transform into something else, the energy and matter can't be destroyed only transformed you will continue flowing with the Tao maybe with a different form but for sure you will never completely die, Taoism and the Vedic tradition emphasized the aspect of consciousness of Brahman, Tao or God, to sense life from another dimension without fears or desires, to become an emperor not a beggar.
So the question is, are we naturally good or bad, are we evil, is goodness a discipline imposed from without, should we be good out of fear or there is inner goodness, that everyone is born good, that goodness is your nature.
Eastern tradition is not much concerned with moral issues but your state of consciousness, because you are sleeping and really suffering because you can't understand your behavior and you act like a drunk, but since you are sleeping you are not fully responsible for your actions, you are ignorant, but if you are immoral it will throw you into a deeper intoxication and it will be harder to wake up.
In western tradition the devil is influencing your behavior and weakening your morals, so the fight inside need to be emphasized, you need medicine, you cannot do it by yourself so help is essential, church, priest and praying are necessary to fight this war, otherwise you will fall in disgrace and in everlasting damnation.
The questions are, should we accept ourselves, our human condition, is anger, greed, etc, born with us as our limbs are giving to us, or is something that we need to eradicate, should the left-hand battle the right, should we fight our emotions or be a witness to so the emotion has no power over us, should we condemn or accept ourselves, should we be hypocrite while we waiting for grace or be natural, should we judge others and pretend that we don't have that inside, is liberation possible, is it possible to get to heaven, does hell exist?
This is very difficult for anybody to answer because nobody can be sure, if believers in hell were completely sure about what they preach, they will block the streets in rallies to save everybody soul of everlasting torment, if we are born in a particular culture those ideas are embedded deep into our consciousness, if you are surrender by a group of people who has certain ideas with time you will think in the same way, so even if we denied Christianity, in the back of our minds, the image of an old man with the white beard is still pointing the finger at us, the answers can only be responded by yourself, but you cannot see yourself in the running water, only when water is in stillness, only when your internal turmoil quiet down and you can look with kindness to yourself.
In my opinion, we have to choose our own realities, beliefs, and Gods, they cannot be imposed, if your faith brings you peace hallelujah if is tormenting you what is the point? If it is stopping you for killing somebody, please for the sake of humankind immerse deeper into your God.
Once many years ago I was attending a meditation group, I can't remember why I was in distress and late for the session, I entered the room making noises interrupting the silence, the teacher of that session stood up pointed with the finger to the door and he followed me out of the room.
He said, I can feel the waves of negative vibration flowing from you that is the reason I had to stop you because you were going to disturb the quiet energy of the room, then he asked me what would happen if you die today, do you think that the world will function as it is right now. Do you think the newspapers will publish the news of the day and the TV stations will run their programs as scheduled?
I obviously answered yes. He said how do you know? How can you be so sure? We create the world with our eyes, the moment we cease to exists the world disappears, we paint it with dark colors or bright ones, calamities or blessings come from the same door we open or close, then he said with a smile, now that you have changed your vibrations we should continue with our meditation.
When you read any of the religion's stories how does it make you feel, which of the poets make you vibrate the most, but be aware a poem is just a poem is not the reality you cannot live your life by a book.
Some people need babysitters that tell them what to do, to correct them when they behave improperly, as a result, they feel contented or resigned, they are really in need of discipline and order, other people need storytellers to flame their imagination and take them to another world, some other people need to transcend all the metaphors all the allegories and finally experience what the poets were describing.
Whatever religion we chose, it should feel at the end of the road, that this existence has been a great show, with no regrets or clinging, that all the knowledge that was worth knowing was the one about ourselves and with trust in the universe just drop, let it go, leaving all behind, like we are embarking on a new adventure.