It is interesting to consider the panic and mistrust that is generated when people start talking about forming a new religion. Where does this come from?
If someone proposed a new educational theory, medical approach, artistic technique or scientific theory, people rightly expect two things. One, is there a basis for the approach and two, is there some form of ability to have repeatable results in different contexts with different people.
Yet with Religion there appears to be some added hurdles, lest you be labelled a cult, sect or simply a group of crazies. There is a deep fear and even suspicion that gets generated if you mention a NEW religion. Why is this?
Could it be that many people have been manipulated by others promising ‘nirvana’ before? Of course, by manipulated I mean people choosing to take on a set of beliefs that suited their desire to escape or give away their power etc.
Could it be the harm that established religions have endorsed and perpetrated over centuries?
The current Royal Commission into Institutionalised Child Abuse in Australia is showing how established religions had clergy abusing children and then ignored what the children were saying to protect the image of the religion. The result was that clergy were often relocated, like a virus, and allowed to continue to offend.
Then there is the litany of religious wars, stoning, hanging, murders and genocides that have been carried out, either under the name of religion, or NOT prevented by them. Not to mention the segregation, discrimination and animosity generated between different religious groups and even within groups.
There is such incongruence in seeing institutions that purport to be able to help us understand an aspect of our lives that is so sacred and special to many, behaving in a way that is so contrary to that sacredness.
So considering all of this, it is understandable that we feel a level of sensitivity with the word religion.
Maybe we react because we have invested so much in a religion being ‘the way’. You can see people terrified that if their religion is not “it” there might be nothing else?
Is it that we get confused by seeing some amazing people living in religions that they seem to balance the harm that is perpetrated by others?
But what if the amazing, lovely, deeply caring people who are in religions are not amazing, lovely, deeply caring people because of the religion, but because of who they are within themselves?
After all, we also find amazing, lovely, deeply caring people who live outside of religion and in other religions, so the common factor is not the religion, it is the heart of the person and how they choose to live.
Could it be that we have mistaken religion for a set of ideologies, canons and doctrines rather than a way of living that connects us to and confirms what we feel within?
People seem tired of being promised so much by religion only to find that time and time again, the words and the deeds do not match up. The result is that people are very suspicious of people suggesting a NEW religion is needed.
But what if the great world teachers like Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus etc were right, and how we then interpret and live their messages is where the problem lies?
It is interesting to note that they all shared a view that the current religions of the day were missing the mark. They all suggest that the truth of a god is everywhere (which must also mean within), yet we have ended up with religions that vest power in the priests and away from self.
So maybe we don’t need to walk away from a religious way of being but rather return to the original meaning and purpose of religion.
Religion is about the way we live in respect of and in connection to our own innate divinity.
Religion is not about grand cathedrals and the politics of powerful clergy, but finding ways to honour the sacredness that is inherent within each person, wherever we live or work.
Religion is not about showing us what we need to become but should be confirming of the glory that we already are.
Religion is not about rigid guidelines that control and separate us but about giving us a framework for becoming a forever student of life.
Religion is not about waiting for a saviour but about each person taking maximum responsibility for saving themselves.
Religion is not about ‘doing good’ but about building a level of honesty, vitality and self love that can then shared.
Religion is simply about building a way of living that confirms we are all equal and returning to the fact that we are not just humans, but spirits and souls learning how to reconnect to what we have pushed away for many, many lifetimes… our own innate and ever present divinity.