Religion, Part 2

“What is religion? A cloud in the sky. I live in the sky, not in the clouds, which are so many words held together. Remove the verbiage and what remains? Recorded religions are mere heaps of verbiage. Religions show their true face in action, in silent action. To know what man believes, watch how he acts. For most of the people service of their bodies and their minds is their religion. They may have religious ideas, but they do not act on them. They play with them, they are often very fond of them, but they will not act on them. Christianity is one way of putting words together and Hinduism is another. The real is, behind and beyond words, incommunicable, directly experienced, explosive in its effect on the mind. It is easily had when nothing else is wanted.”

~Nisargadatta Maharaj

Is there anything more subject to manipulation, modification, and misdirection in this realm than belief systems? In fact, nearly every person alive is ruled to some extent by conditioning programs based on manufactured beliefs. Reality descriptions are implanted as soon as one develops the cognitive capacity to be influenced, and that process never really ceases until the body-mind expires.

Moreover, people tend to be divided by their beliefs. Such is a convenient and often-employed tool for the controllers, the belief system engineers, who know all too well the power of fabricated beliefs. There is a very good reason for so much disinformation in this day and age. It is a sort of black magic based on a long-cultivated knowledge of how the human herd reacts to certain signals.

Currently, with the advent of media technologies that provide them with unprecedented control options, the powers of this realm have more ability and resources to fashion opinions and misdirect attention than at any other period in history, as well as marginalize any threat to their information control from the few voices that still speak out.

One of their favored modus operandi is setting up various competing religions, and using those beliefs to get people to attack, torture, and kill those who oppose the corrupted belief system. Various competing political and financial systems are also utilized for comparable purposes, but it is still hard to top religious belief as a prime vehicle for the manipulation of humans on this planet.

Religious belief in general is a mental and emotional superimposition on our felt experience of life and being. Borrowed fantasies of interpretation, based on cultural filters, are added to perception. These notions are then grasped onto as unchallenged and self-confirming propositions, for which we are even willing to sacrifice the lives of others, as well as our own, in their presumed defense.

Indeed, much of the violence perpetrated on humanity by humanity throughout history has religious belief structures at the root. Some might even argue that ethnic cleansing agendas went hand in hand with the inception of the Abrahamic religious cults that were eventually institutionalized into what are now considered “major world religions”, and that the monotheistic principle itself was in reality symptomatic of the human proclivity for totalitarian empire-building.

In any case, when the fundamentals of religious laws were initially implanted in human societies, it more than likely entailed a process similar in purpose and design to the various behavioral conditioning programs that are employed in the training of young children. In other words, religious concepts served as socialization vehicles and control structures aimed at achieving and then maintaining consensus views and corresponding standards of conduct in the fledgling societies springing up across the planet.

It was important for the evolution of these societies that individuals learned to distinguish appropriate versus inappropriate forms of relationship and activity, and considering the infantile level of developmental maturity of the species, certain fearful punishment consequences (i.e. hell realms) were strategically associated with failure to comply with the established rules.

These rules were eventually codified as religious dogmas requiring belief and allegiance, and many might argue that they are still necessary at our current level of global maturation, and so the overwhelming majority of humans are still kept in the dark. It’s never so dark as when we close our eyes, and yet most of us persist in keeping them shut and just going along with the herd.

In that regard, a large portion of humanity is still convinced that a male parental deity figure dreamed up by primitive nomadic peoples thousands of years ago is still worthy of worship and fear, and moreover relies on its followers to uphold its status by subduing and even exterminating unbelievers. To that end, a startling percentage of those deluded humans espousing such beliefs are willing to wage war with each other to confirm that their particular version of that deity figure is superior.

Just so, the alarming rise of violent Islamic extremism in the world today is not to be seen as an aberration, but simply business as usual when humans take their religious beliefs seriously (particularly within the Abrahamic sects, though certainly not exclusively). There is currently a surge of fundamentalism in the overall collective consciousness because humans who rely on conditioned belief to confirm their existence are deeply anxious about the future, and so wish to roll the clock back to a more comfortable time – a time when the earth was flat and the sun traveled around it, their favorite god ruled from his throne on high, women knew their subservient place, and there was plenty of enthusiasm about burning fellow humans at the stake or consigning them to the pits of hell if they dared to offend the consensus reality illusion.

The sage Nisargadatta Maharaj made a good point about belief itself in this regard when he noted: “We believe in so many things on hearsay. We believe in distant lands and people, in heavens and hells, in gods and goddesses, because we were told. Similarly, we were told about ourselves, our parents, name, position, duties and so on. We never cared to verify. The way to truth lies through the destruction of the false. To destroy the false, you must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these the idea that you are the body is the worst. With the body comes the world, with the world — God, who is supposed to have created the world and thus it starts — fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems — all to protect and support the child-man, frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making. Realise that what you are cannot be born nor die and with the fear gone all suffering ends.”

In any case, when we start to come clean of our fascination with and dependence on second-hand dogmas, and begin to shed our conditioned religious identities, we may find ourselves in a silence of mind that can at first seem extremely uncomfortable. After all, we are programmed and accustomed to having something there, something we can fall back on — “our” beliefs — and now they are either suspect, or have gone missing altogether.
We find ourselves cast into a vast and intimidating unknown, with no crutch or familiar landing place. Nevertheless, if we are able to resist the temptation of trying to fill the gap by replacing obsolete beliefs with newer and shinier versions, we will find ourselves opening into the transparent aware spaciousness of our own original innocence.

No frame of reference, no reference to frame — this transitional state of utter insecurity and not knowing is in fact the womb of real awakening. Many people tend to think that the “dark night of the soul” refers to a period of depression or psychological distress, but what is being pointed to here is not that. It is a state which pertains when all previous identity supports and anchors of belief are surrendered, and is thus a necessary stage prior to, and even coincident with, authentic awakening. It is often called a death, because it represents the end of clinging to old self-images.

By simply persisting there, while discarding the motive to add some further mental fabrication (i.e. belief) to our present aware spaciousness, what is is allowed to reveal itself, without artifice or force. It is the indescribable bliss of our own true nature, and it has never been elsewhere. It’s just that we have been too distracted by our beliefs and notions to see what has been present and radiant all along.

However, when we attempt to apply some conditional structure/meaning to it, so that the mind can wrap itself around it and plant its flag of identity in a staked-out position (belief), we’ve immediately separated ourselves from the essence of what is, even though it is only by directly experiencing the very essence of it that we will come to true peace.

Certainly, employing the intellect to inquire into the nature of any particular subject has its own value and utility. However, we often tend to over-complicate things by relying solely on reason and logic, and thus hold back from fully letting go and plunging all the way in to the heart of life and relations. Hence, another way to consider the matter might be like this:

There is an ocean. There are those who have heard that there is an ocean, have read many testaments about it being there, but have not actually seen it for themselves, much less plunged into it. These people might ponder the ocean in their minds, and derive various interpretations about its nature. Still, until they actually go to the ocean and get into it, their understanding will remain in the realm of belief and fantasies of interpretation.
Even those who do enter into the ocean are unable to fully appreciate its totality, since there are depths that are difficult to penetrate, but at least they have the direct experience as far as they go.

Just so, if one actually sees for themselves that the ocean is real, then there is no need to speculate about it, or even to doubt it. There is not even any need for faith, since one has found out on their own. Otherwise, one will constantly vacillate between faith and doubt, which is why religions and philosophies appear — to indulge people who do not have direct experience of the ocean.

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness.”

~ Dalai Lama

See also:

Religion, Part 1

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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19 Responses to Religion, Part 2

  1. Bob OHearn says:

    “Belief is so unnecessary, as are ideals. Both dissipate energy which is needed to follow the unfolding of the fact, the “what is”. Beliefs like ideals are escapes from the fact and in escape there is no end to sorrow. The ending of sorrow is the understanding of the fact from moment to moment. There is no system or method which will give understanding; only a choiceless awareness of a fact will do that. Meditation according to a system is the avoidance of the fact of what you are; it is far more important to understand yourself, the constant changing of the fact about yourself, than to meditate in order to find god or have visions, sensations and other forms of entertainment.”

    “Let the mind strip itself of everything, of every conditioning, every knowledge, of everything it thinks is “right” — empty it. Then you will know what dying means; and then you will know what love is.”

    ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

  2. Bob OHearn says:

    The Buddha spoke gently, “Once a person is caught by belief in a doctrine, one loses all one’s freedom”. When one becomes dogmatic, that person believes his or her doctrine is the only truth and that all other doctrines are heresy.

    Disputes and conflicts all arise from narrow views. They can extend endlessly, wasting precious time and sometimes even leading to war. Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path. Bound to narrow views, one becomes so entangled that it is no longer possible to let the door of truth open.

    ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  3. Yes indeed, let us all be us first, then see if there’s anything to prattle about.
    Afterall if there was no fabrication of division there would be no need for expedient religion to come into being at all. 😉

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Interesting that the fastest growing countries in the world are all aligned with a religious orientation where division is clearly emphasized, even among its own competing sects.

  4. Yes back to the medieval European times 😉

    The human situation does not change, just the same ignorance in a new suit, only when ignorance ends does it all.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      People arrive here from all over for the special kind of theater this stage offers! They typically want to see what the buzz is all about, and then get hooked on the dramas in play and decide to stay till the ignorance peters out. 😉

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    Religious conflict has been dividing human society for more than 2,000 years, scientists say.

    A new anthropological study of several Mexican archaeological sites dating back to 700BC has appeared to contradict a long-held belief that religion united early state societies.

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    If it were true that when belief in God weakens, societal well-being diminishes, then we should see abundant evidence for this. But we don’t. In fact, we find just the opposite: Those societies today that are the most religious — where faith in God is strong and religious participation is high — tend to have the highest violent crime rates, while those societies in which faith and church attendance are the weakest — the most secular societies — tend to have the lowest.

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    Belief in an all-seeing punitive god motivates people to be more charitable towards strangers outside their own family and community, particularly to those of similar beliefs, researchers have found.

  8. marcelvuijst says:

    So amusing to read my old comments back on various essays, thanks for these essays I keep coming back to them, it’s interesting to observe how views keep changing over time 😉

    • Bob OHearn says:

      That is a big clue, eh. Here is something interesting in that regard my Friend Sparrow once shared:

      “Do not presume Buddha and his way of life to be by default what is right or suitable for you, for this would be naïve in your own understanding and celebration of who and what you are as an individual entity. It is for you to understand that many beings who you revere from history would in fact take a different path if they were alive in your present time period today. This is because the perceptions of value available to them in their own time period was much different to what is perceivable, or practicable today. It is also to do with the current state of the world and many other factors which they observe from above which have changed their perspective somewhat since their life term on Earth. Some you would seem as peacekeepers and holy men would in fact take up arms to protect forests, plants and other animals from the abuse of human acts taking place in this present time period. You would not perhaps deem this as being enlightened, but in their own words, they would deem it justifiable and an important responsibility in safeguarding the future of the planet within the greater picture.”

  9. marcelvuijst says:

    Ha! I sometimes tell Buddhist this in a similair spirit, that shakya 2500 years ago would be a different shakya then born today, blasphemy! 😉 It’s fun to observe these ghostly acrobats constantly modifying and reifying while those interpretations are always second-handed, in that way phenomena reveal the “mind” It’s just weather, it’s sly. You’re right that there always needs to be something there to distract from what simply IS, but it need not to be a struggle when awakened to the heart, from the previous neurotics of activity vs inactivity, meaning vs non-meaning, fantasies about dual/non-dual. What can I say? Today I visited a deeply depressed friend, normally I would think about what wise words I could utter, some method/meditation I would advice to help. But just being there was enough, just being. ❤

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Healing intent for your friend! Depression is a growing plague in this culture, as the old supports disintegrate, replaced by empty materialism and the ancient but renewed divisions of nationalism.

      On the other topic you mention, here is something of note:

      “In the Mahayana, the principle to which maximum importance is given, and the essence itself of the Mahayana doctrine, is the union of void-ness and compassion. But, in truth, if one does not have awareness inseparably linked to presence, there absolutely cannot arise a really genuine compassion. As long as one does not have the real experience of being moved by compassion for others, it is useless to pretend that one is so very full of compassion. There is a Tibetan proverb about this, which says: “Even if you’ve got eyes to see other people, you need a mirror to see yourself!” As this proverb implies, if one really wants a genuine compassion for others to arise in oneself, it is necessary to observe one’s own defects, be aware of them, and mentally put yourself in other people’s places to really discover what those persons’ actual conditions might be. The only way to succeed in this is to have the presence of awareness. Otherwise, even if one pretends to have great compassion, a situation will sooner or later arise which shows that compassion has never really been born in us at all.

      Until a pure compassion does arise, there is no way to overcome one’s limits and barriers. And it happens that many practitioners, as they progress in the practice, just end up thinking of themselves as being a ‘divinity’ and thinking of everyone else as being ‘evil spirits’. Thus they are doing nothing other than increasing their own limits, developing attachment towards themselves, and hatred towards others. Or, even if they talk a great deal about Mahamudra and Dzogchen, all they are really doing is becoming more expert and refined in the ways of behaving of the eight worldly dharmas. This is a sure sign that a true compassion has not arisen in us, and the root of the matter is that there has never really arisen the presence of awareness. So, without chattering about it, or getting caught up in trying to hide behind an elegant facade, one should try really and truly to cause the presence of awareness actually to arise in oneself, and then carry it into practice. This is the most important point of the practice of Dzogchen.”

      ~Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, The Mirror.

  10. Bob OHearn says:


    From the perspective of the spirit world on matters as this, it tends to be observed that religion, as an attunement of consciousness, thought processes and state of expectation once passing has much to answer for. Though it could be said for many religions of the Earth that much good can come about through the tools of faith, kinship and united loving intention, equally it must be observed the presence of misinterpretation, misinformation and manipulation. This is to say, what tends to occur is that one individual within a historical period interprets fragmented incomplete truths from one source or another, usually from another human being in history, to his or her own ideals, and thusly develops their own values and indoctrinations out of that. What we then observe is that other individuals and growing groups, usually those yearning for greater truth, adopt this one source of indoctrination and view point and declare it the highest truth. Yet we see to commit to this highest truth they are then expected to disassociate themselves from all other paths of wisdom, experience and personal spiritual validation.

    In this we see that the investment of living within a fragmented misinterpreted set of teachings can do tremendous damage to such things as family bonding, self-perception and cause deep inflicting suffering after such beliefs are shattered by life’s unforeseen events. We similarly see that upon their passing, many religious groups and individuals, particularly those who are promised one thing or another within their indoctrinations are met with a totally different state of events, of reality and of truth than what was taught to them by their self-professed spiritual guru. This often then beckons groups and guides of care in the spirit world to assist illuminate and realign these souls to a higher vibration of information and understanding within the halls of learning and their Akashic book.

    Religion does not exist in the spirit world. The reason for this is because the halls of learning, otherwise known as the halls of information, contain every answer and illumination to every question ever conceived. Many billions of souls, having spent extensive periods of time in study within the halls of learning are presented with the very core essence of truth and recorded state of events of all beings and all subjects, which systematically rewrites all belief systems carried over from physical life. For this reason, and with this infinite resource available, religion becomes impractical and insufficient because your soul’s thought processes gravitate to a much higher resonation of understanding.

    Conclusively, in my opinion, religion was a useful vehicle to gravitate awareness to a new resonation of values in Earths history. It was useful, in their former original forms and values to begin to invite spiritual thought and self-reflection. It is my view and understanding that religions, in their current form, no longer sustain or gravitate humanity in the same way they once did. This is simply because such religions cannot meet the demand for higher forms of information, of science and of validation which so many human beings now seek. In a sense, human beings have evolved beyond the appeal and promises of religion and seek answers, experiences and validations which religion cannot provide. The original values of unconditional love, brotherhood and harmony with the Earth must be reintegrated into the modern world, within modern living and modern thinking.

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