“Welcome to the Church for the Resurrection of the Unicorn. The sacred unicorn, once resurrected, will save all the believers and bring them heaven on earth. All non-believers will perish and live in eternal damnation”
“Welcome to the Shrine of the Way of the Chickpea. Through eating blessed hummus we received enlightenment and God’s word. We wait for the eternal life and pray to be worthy of free hummus for eternity”
“Welcome to the Temple of the Headstand. While we are all god’s children, some are chosen by god to represent him on earth. Those that can do the headstand will become one of his chosen. Others are welcome to live their lives as they choose, but will never be equal to our flock”
Belief indeed is a powerful thing; there are many groups, societies, sects and even cults that have developed and grown out of something someone ‘believed’ in. The rule appears to be if enough people believe it, then it’s a thing. Furthermore, once there is a critical mass of people, not only is it a thing but it’s a thing that can rarely be questioned.
This seems convenient – we can either make up what to believe in, or choose from what is currently on offer with little chance that we will be challenged for this choice.
While the right to explore our connection to and understanding of divinity is important, it serves to respectfully explore these beliefs, not to try and pick winners and losers but to understand if some of these beliefs could have some unintended consequences.
One of the most common beliefs that presents across all institutionalised religions is that religion makes the ‘someone' a better person. Many if not all religions have codified ‘good behaviour’ and ‘right relationships’, but do these written principles and tenets make someone a good person, or do people inherently carry this quality within them already?
We see people that are not aligned to any institutionalised religion also being caring, honest and charitable. We also see people that call themselves religious acting in ways that are anything but caring, honest or charitable. So maybe it’s not the religion that make people caring, honest and charitable, but rather something more innate in all.
By discounting these innate qualities and making religion responsible for our ‘good and righteousness’, people end up feeling offended when it is pointed out how that same religion is enabling abuse, segregation and at times, murder. Of course, you will defend something you believe makes you a better person: they ask you to focus on the parts that delivered the good and true behaviour and suggest the less desirable behaviours are a sign of man’s innate fallibility and the need for their religion to set them straight.
While this can deflect further criticism, it is also a very subtle form of disempowerment. If our choices don’t come from our innate knowing of what is true and right, we are dependent on the institution. This allows a religion to take credit for the ‘good’ behaviour and not look at how it might contribute to the so called ‘bad’ behaviour. Alternately, if responsibility for behaviour (good or bad) rests with the individual and not the religion, everyone is asked to be responsible for their choices.
Taking this a step further: if religions claim a causal relationship for behaviour that is actually innate, they are drawing their authority from tapping into an intrinsic interest in divinity, God and a life beyond our human form. Across the world – from indigenous tribes, to spiritualists, to modern religions – you see a desire to recognise and reconcile a deeper connection to life and to live more harmoniously with each other. The prevalence of these themes, without and outside of religion, seems to suggest they are innate. At best, religions help us understand these innate impulses. At worst, they attempt to own it
Like any product, if there is a need and you can own the solution, then you have a willing market.
So we have people that are innately good, with an inbuilt sense of the divine, being given free will to ignore these impulses. Those that choose to explore this part of their life turn to religion in its current form, a framework that doesn’t confirm that these traits and deeper connection to life are innate but rather, that build dependence to an affiliation to that one religion.
They talk to the part of us that knows there is more to life than our human form and that there is a way to live without the level of stress, greed or conflict that we experience. Yet, the uncomfortable truth is that religions in their current form also contribute their fair share to the world’s stress, greed, abuse, marginalisation and conflict.
The deeper question is not about who is right or wrong, but whether there is another way to build a relationship with god that does not institutionalise and disconnect us from our own responsibility and connection to all of humanity, regardless of the religion they choose.
But what is the alternative?
The alternative is not to say the desire to be religious is bad or wrong, but to explore if there is a different way to be religious that doesn’t involve believing your goodness (or godliness) comes from a text or dogma.
What if religion started with the following foundations?
We are all equally divine in our essence: we all have free will to connect to this essence or not. The only difference between people is the degree to which this divinity is expressed (this is achieved by your choice to connect to that essence and not how well/often you recite a certain passage of text). People that live this connection are not better or chosen or gifted, they have simply made a different choice.
The ultimate marker of truth is the body: we all have bodies and we are all able to feel to varying degrees of accuracy. Our minds, through beliefs, can convince us of many things, but the body only knows one thing – whether we are feeling vital, joyful, loving towards ourselves and others. The body is the marker of truth of our choices.
Sometimes we feel deeply from the body, sometimes our mind tells us what to feel; the learning is to tell the difference between the two. Once we have learnt how to listen to the body more, we have a single unifying radar for truth that is no longer based on beliefs
How we live matters: our Way of life, how we walk, talk, move, what we watch, drink and eat will either honour and respect the fact that we are divine, or it will distract us from this fact. Our only choice is how willing we are to look at the choices we make. We can make choices that honour this innate divinity within or we can ignore, savage or dismiss it.
Our purpose in life is to evolve each other: life is not a personal race to enlightenment or about securing a special spot next to god in heaven.
Each person is given the grace of their own free will to choose their way, however we are all in this together – one planet, one people, one life – regardless of how many lifetimes it takes to realise this fact. This is a concept that can never be sold, or pushed. True love is not about conversion rates. Love is about allowing another to come to what is sacred to them in their own time, without compromising what is sacred to you. Over time, the level of harmony and vitality in our bodies will show us if those choices are true or not.
These are just some of the tenets found in The Way of The Livingness and of course, we are free to call it just another set of beliefs or we can read, ponder and feel if anything that is presented might possibly hold us as having equal potential and responsibility and therefore, in time become a one unified way for us all.