Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality


I was talking with my barber, a young man in search of his Lord, Jesus Christ. I know he is a baby spiritually, so I am gentle with him. Unless he asks, I don’t tell him anything, specially about religion--people can get real crazy about religion--fanatic is the word.

Once he asked my advice on women since he was having problems with his girlfriend.
I told him not to worry, stay on the straight path and eventually his woman would do the right thing. I laid in out for him in stages or as we say in theatre, in acts: act one, two and three. I even broke it down to him in scenes, telling him what would happen in Act Three, Scene One. Of course he didn’t believe anything I said, but weeks later when I saw him, he smiled and told me things happened exactly as I had told him, from Act One through Act Three. His woman stopped messing with the other dude and reconciled with Johnny, and eventually they had a baby daughter and she joined church with him. Johnny often recalls the dramatic structure I laid out for him. I’ve said all this to say Johnny has confidence in me as a teacher.

So when he asked me about religion, I told him how I see it.
Johnny, religion is one thing, God is another. Never confuse the two. There are many religious, but one Supreme Being, One Universal Force or Higher Power that is in all things: man, animals, nature, the universe. Johnny, religion is a way to God, laws, rules, a path to God, a roadmap up the mountain where God awaits at the mountaintop. Now you may have budding God consciousness as you make your way up the mountain to have intercourse with God, but it is only when you reach the top that intercourse happens, let’s say that is when you climax, before that is the chase, the ordeal by fire, then the joy of completion--it is a lifelong journey. Now people in these various religions attempt to go through the degrees to reach ultimate God consciousness, but few make it up the mountain. They are like Sisyphus, the man in the Greek myth who was doomed to fall back down the mountain holding a rock for eternity. Most people start the climb but fall back down and must begin again until they get it right, but only a chosen few are able to make it to the top to receive the Divine blessing of light, truth and love.

Many of these religious people can be seen going up the mountain fighting, hating, even killing along the path, thus they fall down and must begin anew. They wonder why they never make it to the top. Sometimes their fists are balled up so when they reach a station on their path, they cannot reach into their pocket to pay the toll and cannot continue. They are stuck and cannot go farther. They may wail, shout, get the holy ghost, but they will not reach their destination. Some lack direction, discipline, understanding, so again like Sisyphus, they slip and fall to the bottom. At this point they may become disillusioned and give up, falling into the ditch of illusions, addictions worse than their spiritual blindness caused by dogmatism, sectarianism and narrow-mindedness. They were overly concerned about what the others were doing on their paths, so they lost their focus, concentration. And one cannot reach the mountaintop with ignorance, no matter what religion, whether monotheism, polytheism; whether Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or traditional African religions.

Of course by their very nature, religions breed ignorance and dogmatism. Every religion claims absolute truth based on holy words or books, thus if one is not the member of a certain faith or sect, one is doomed to hell, and of course only devils live in hell, so the non-believers can be stoned, burned, lynched, or killed, then sent to hell properly.

All the while, these religions teach and preach love, but it is a strange love, especially when one does not have a membership card in the Club of Heavenly Faith or the Holy Ghost Muslim Word.

There are interfaith and ecumenical movements attempting to spread toleration and understanding, but they are a small voice in movement toward spiritual enlightenment. Such enlightenment seems reserved for those with mystical inclination, such as the Sufi and others seeking spiritual consciousness that transcends sectarianism.

We say with a surety that ultimate spirituality can only be achieved when the believer is totally without prejudice in matters of Divine, when it is immaterial whether a person is of this or that religion, sect, cult or denomination, no matter what is said in various scriptures. The Sufi says, “The only religion is the religion of the heart.”

It is of no matter what is in books or in the heads of believers when there is no sincere love in their hearts. The heart is the acid test of spirituality. When God is alive in the hearts of men and women, it matters not what is in books or in their heads, for if we followed the books, this discussion would be unnecessary, and if we followed our natural intelligence it would be unnecessary. Thus, we must close the books, jump out of our heads and dwell in the region of the heart in order to arrive at radical spirituality.

Traditional religions are of no value in the global village of today. We need only look at the nightly news to see the strife and killing being done in the name of various religions.
We need the wisdom of Solomon to see our way to the mountaintop: religion is vanity and vexation of spirit. Let not our fate be the same as Sisyphus: to eternally approach the Divine, yet slip and fall as we near intercourse with the Eternal Light.

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