Saturday, April 2, 2011


I desperately want some people to understand some truths I have started to figure out about God. Logic can actually take a certain kind of person there - it did me. Logic also tells me to try to pass it on, because it is a technique for living more fully as an individual; and, showing people how to live the Way of Christ is critical to our hope for survival as a society.

I'm afraid it may sound grandiose to say that I have figured out truths about God. I don't mind seeming grandiose as far as myself goes, because I am that, and a lot of other humorous-looking things. But I don't want you to think I am saying these things just for the pleasure of saying them.

First of all, religious belief is a practice of setting intentions, and dealing with fear of the unknown. Other beliefs arise because they have some kind of evidence for them. Non-religious beliefs can be ignorant and biased, but the person who believes them, believes he has evidence.

Religious belief is an intentionally-chosen belief. It doesn't seem that way if you are following a religion that emphasizes fear, compulsion and judgment. You may realize (or suspect) there is no evidence for the religious belief that you are forced to follow. Still, the forces - parents, community, inbred fear that prevents you from thinking - seem to restrict your ability to choose your own belief. They are among the biggest obstacles to peace.

Assuming you are able to choose to hold a religious belief, why would you want to? Fear-based religion says you must hold it, or you will be shunned by the community and damned to hell. This is the idea we are called now to let go of. The mystical heart of all spiritual longing is to be free of fear, and free to act. (That is one way to put it.)

So, a religious belief that would answer such a longing, is one that, in and of itself, gives the believer freedom from fear. It can in no way, shape, or form be put into a set of words that will work for everybody. It has to be sought and found individually. This is the meaning of God's injunction against idolatry. There are idols not made of wood, clay, or stone. In fact, any concept, especially a concept formulated in words, which you take to be "truth", is an idol. You must formulate truth for yourself, but once you have grasped the truth, you must let go of the specific formula. A teacher puts out a formula that has worked for him or her, in loving charity, in hopes of seeing joy and enlightenment in the eyes of others.

I said in an earlier posting that, for Christians, "Jesus, save me!" or some similar formulation, is what I call a "salvation mantra." If you are of a Christian background, and you face your deepest fears, chances are, repeating that prayer will calm your agitation. This was a fantastic discovery for me. It was the basis of my faith. I believe that moment wherein I first made this discovery, was exactly what people talk about as a "conversion" or "salvation" experience, like "being saved," as we used to call it in the church of my early years. It requires you to acknowledge that you have no control over the outcome of events, and that nothing you do will necessarily save you. It allows you to let go of worrying about whether you will be saved or not, because there is nothing you could do to change whether that will happen or not. And then - this is key - you realize that believing in the ultimately positive outcome is the only religious belief that will help you in this moment, or any moment. There is good reason never to doubt it, but that reason has nothing to do with evidence.

If your proposed religious belief seems like it ought to be proved or disproved by evidence, then you have mis-formulated it. If you have a formulation that helps you whenever you think of it, you have a viable religious belief.

No comments:

Post a Comment