“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew 7:6, New International Version
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.”
— Karl Marx
People who live in the subconscious, locked in their psychological conditioning and their fundamental insincerity, will always pervert and distort whatever they get hold of, no matter how sacred it is. Most mainstream religions have built their organizations through misinterpreting and monopolizing on the teachings of their original founders. They put sacred words into little boxes of beliefs, imprisoning precious truth inside dogma, and trick people into letting themselves be locked inside too.
Not all the founders of the major religions were highly evolved and not all religions were born out of ancient wisdom. Many of them were, even from the beginning of their creation, just projections of the collective imagination, yearning, and fantasy. People tend to idolize the founders of religions, but, with the exception of Buddha, the scriptures and holy teachings associated with them do not offer us any indication that these founding figures embodied the knowledge of pure subjectivity, or were accomplished on the path to self-realization. And regardless of whether their founders were enlightened or not, it seems abundantly clear that those who later interpreted their teachings, and led their followers, had not achieved even a moderate level of real spiritual advancement. The result of this has been that religions have misinterpreted, distorted, and corrupted whatever spiritual truths may have originally formed their basis. These revised teachings were designed to fill the minds of unconscious followers with contrived dogma, which they call ‘beliefs’. Not only does religion misrepresent truth, it actually creates barriers to the possibility of ever discovering it.
Here and there one finds rare examples of genuine mystics or saints who managed to evolve within the confines of their religions, but they have been more like prisoners, evolving within their prison, than truly free individuals. Such spiritual progress has more likely to have been achieved in spite of religion rather than because of it. One can still evolve in a prison, just as a bird can still grow in a cage. But why not be free and grow properly in the open air of the real world?
Religions are not interested in helping people evolve, or in helping them to become more spiritually intelligent. In order to survive, they need their followers to remain complacent so that they can continue to be exploited. In this sense, religions are similar to dictatorships: they have no interest in helping their own people grow, but only in controlling them, using whatever means necessary. Likewise, the media in general is about control, about manipulating people with a mixture of fear and desire, through endless displays of shiny new and ‘must have’ goods and services. It is no wonder religions and governments have so often been such happy bedfellows, with church and state either sharing the same leader or working closely hand in hand.
Some more conscious people can see the total absurdity of organized religions, and yet in subtle and probably unconscious ways, they remain under their influence. For instance, even non-believers assert that, no matter how irrational it may be, religion and a belief in a higher power can help people to become good and moral. But even if religion helps people to improve themselves psychologically, morally, or emotionally, this is completely outweighed by the fact that it serves to block any real spiritual evolution. Also, there is hypocrisy in equating religion with moral ‘goodness’. Religious wars have been amongst the cruelest and bloodiest in recorded history.
Organized religions have all sustained one underlying objective: to maintain a submissive herd mentality and keep people unconscious. Alongside fear and guilt, morality is one of the main tools that has been used to prevent large scale uprisings of followers against their religious leaders. Religion has basically become a business based on the exploitation of human minds and hearts. That business is not just about money; it is about dominance, power, and control.
Even Buddhism, which was originally a teaching meant for individual practice and awakening, has to a large extent taken on the trappings of a mainstream religion. Virtually all of Buddhism’s many sects now observe rituals and ceremonies, similar to those found in churches or synagogues. They chant, perform various superstitious rituals, and brainwash their followers with the farcical belief that this constitutes the Buddhist path. A Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche sits on his ‘throne’, much like a powerful bishop, holding his symbols, fetishes, and totems, and purporting to represent the Buddha himself. It is, unfortunately, much the same with Hinduism: precious grains of truth drowning in countless deities and superstition.
The influence of religion on humanity has actually been, and still is, an extremely negative one. It has reinterpreted and perverted living truth with a view to controlling its countless followers. How different is this from organized criminality? The essential teachings of spirituality can only be safeguarded if they are completely removed from any religious context. Only then can they once more be made freely available, released from the distortions and ulterior motives of misguided, subconscious minds.
People live their entire lives effectively in a state of hypnosis, not altogether different from sleepwalking. They need to be told what to believe and what to think and do. They cannot think for themselves, so instead they model themselves on each other, copy each other’s fears and dreams, and all make the same mistakes. It is small wonder, then, that those who let themselves be controlled by religion, with its preachers and manipulators, do not even attempt to seek truth. As in all other aspects of their lives, they seek conformism. They actually choose to be enslaved, because they fear being different and do not even comprehend the meaning or potential of being able to use their own free will. Freedom requires taking responsibility for one’s own destiny, and people in general are not ready to be free – not from religion, nor temporal authority, nor even society in general. They live instead like lambs to the slaughter. The effective state of hypnosis they are in controls them so much that they are unable to see or acknowledge their inevitable fate.
In order to reach emancipation from religion, humans must reclaim their spiritual power. They have been giving it away for thousands of years, and it is time to take it back and place it where it belongs: within. Just as religion has monopolized spirituality, spirituality now has to take hold of the reins and break free from religion. This work can only be done in the heart of each individual human being. Walking the inner path requires the courage to stand alone in the face of existence. There can no longer be intermediaries in spirituality – no more priests, ministers, gurus, matajis, or other hierarchies. The essence of spirituality cannot be taken back from religion, because not only is it no longer there, it never was. It is hidden in the inner cave of our very being, waiting to be awakened from its beginningless and endless sleep.
For a definition of the terminology used, please visit the. for a printable version of this article.