Marx notes that religion is the opiate of the masses. And with careful consideration one can see why. The issue is not the oppression of religion in this article, it is to understand the nature of religion and what it is all about. One thing that occurs is that we need to go through the process of religion… it is a necessary stage in the development of consciousness. It’s hallmarks are part of developing awareness. But there comes a time when we can transcend the entire religious paradigm in favor of a more deeply connected awareness and freedom.
Religion is a link, a program, a set of perceptions and rules that are downloaded into our being from our parents and our culture or community. These assumptions about reality and answers to some of the fundamental questions about reality are often ancient in origin and stuck in a paradigm of thought and processing which for many, a great many, is all they need for a full life. But let us remember, it is a program. And like all programming it is limiting… often we never question the assumptions which create religion in the first place. And the hardest part about religion is once the program is set in motion, do we ask the question, “what is the goal of this program?” And deeper yet, “is that the goal that we are interested in manifesting here and now?”
Religio means to trace back along a line to an origin. But how many of us take the time to actually trace that back to its source? How many just swallow the assumptions hook line and sinker without recognizing the story, the myths which are stories, behind the beliefs which we are walking with and through? It is this lack of questioning and application of the best solution for our times that Marx was speaking of when calling religion an opiate. An opiate makes us fall asleep and feel nothing new. We are left in a dream state where just about anything can influence us… and does. Religion and religious authority gives us the answers we rarely think about. The fundamental existential questions of wonderment which are behind all religions are three fold:
Who made me, this universe etc?
Who am I in this universe et al?
Where am I going in this universe?
The programming is downloaded into our being at a very young age. Recently scientists have been postulating a simple theorem, that we are religious beings, that the act of becoming aware comes with it so much existential angst at a young age – somewhere between 4 and 7, that we are automatically ready to be programmed… very similar to the development of speech from 1-5 years. At no better time can a child learn to speak its language than 1-5… and in fact we learn 80% of our speech abilities during that period of necessary brain development. Short of a significant influence or extreme study, we do not learn any more than 20% throughout the rest of life. Thus the theorem goes that we are open to the programming of our brains with answers to this existential crisis that comes with becoming aware of the self. We are so open that we do not question. And considering the fear of self annihilation, the questioning of the programming may never occur, though we may deepen or add to our programming… like adding to or shifting our definition of god without actually considering that no god exists. And with this goes a host of assumptions which are featured around beliefs. Our actions, whether subconsciously or not, are founded on this unconscious programming.
This impacts all aspects of our culture and our globe. There are fundamental assumptions that we do not even consider worthy of questioning in our religious beliefs, and it is politically incorrect to challenge them in the first place, like we should never disagree because of diversity. But it is these very assumptions which have gotten us into trouble in the first place. I reject the Salvationist agenda of the dominator god from the one-god religions of the west. I reject it because the goal of the Salvationist agenda is a program of beliefs which end with the destruction of the globe. All of these have some sort of end game scenario which then leads us to heaven, a place that frankly no one has proven to my satisfaction exists or is even viable. And though we may reject heaven and hell as existing in its medieval construct, we still maintain the program of reducing everything down to good versus evil with a final battle. This injection into the religious beliefs of the world occurred in about 3000 years ago and we still have not recovered from this. When we reject the entire assumption we see the world is a place to live within in harmony and balance. Our science is attempting to suggest this through environmentalism and the like, but this is a battle with religion. People hold onto that programming with dire necessity.
When we realize that beliefs are founded on these emotional states of development through extremely painful experiences from childhood development, we begin to realize that these values, the ones that make us act unconsciously and often without internal consistency, are the fundamental place where we need to question. And from these questions we need to remove the fear energies and face the reason we took on this programming in the first place. It takes a significant emotional event for most people to do this kind of questioning and value clarification. Yet that is exactly how we will evolve as a species and as people through evolving these fundamental values.
This does not mean that I am advocating that god or goddess does not exists… though my personal awareness prefers non-specific and non-personal definitions for the ultimate singularity, great mystery. What I am advocating is a deep internal reflection and recapitulation of the energies we devote to unconscious structures and beliefs which play out on our actions. When we do this, and can do this more globally, we may actually be open to answers that will surprise us. Our religions may be keeping us from moving forward as a species, we may be missing critical knowledge which will aid us in living more balanced lives. I am calling an end to Decartes’ answer that the realm of spirit is the realm of spirit and the realm of science is the realm of science. This dualism has lead us to a culture of extreme schizophrenia, and we need to reject the old stories that no longer serve the life of our planet and our future.
Ultimately a spirituality and religion that is not open and flexible and that does not include the sanctity of life and the planet in its equation is bound for ultimate destruction of the very thing that holds awareness, our being, bodies and lives.