The damage of religions.

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      Dear Prabhuji, I understand and mostly agree with your criticism of religions. Could you tell me what, in your opinion, is the greatest damage to humanity that religions have caused?

    I wish to clarify that I do not criticize religion, but the phenomenon of the institutionalized religion. Authentic religion is only one, while organized religiosity has many faces. Because it is a social and non-spiritual phenomenon, there are as many religious “isms” as cultures: “templism,” “churchism,” or “synagogism.” Religion belongs to the enlightened master, while organized religion is of preachers, priests, rabbis, pundits, imams, and the modern “sat-sangists.” Authentic religion has flourished in a Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, Shankara, Krishna, Caitanya, Lao Tze, or a Guru Nanak. Religious ‘isms’ belong to the Pope, the Vatican, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and so on. Jesus did not know about Christianity, Catholicism, or Protestantism. Moses never heard the term Judaism. Buddha never imagined that he would become the founder of Buddhism. I consider myself religious, and hence, my words seem subversive toward institutionalized religion. True religion has always been reactionary toward pseudo-spiritual businesses that rent invented gods and sell to us imaginary lots in the afterlife, like a Paradise real estate agency. We see it clearly in Jesus’s reaction to the merchants at the Jerusalem temple entrance. Organized religion is born from fear, from a psychological need of finding meaning and explanations to our life’s experiences. It offers a way out of confusion: it explains the incomprehensible and draws near the unattainable. The human mind can invent both religious ritualism and symbolism, but being conditioning and illusion, it cannot conceive of a sacred god. Obstructing humanity’s access to authentic religion has been the greatest damage institutionalized religion has caused. It has been more interested in preserving the organization than in facilitating the individual’s spiritual development. Selfish institutional interests have prevailed over those of the followers. Every organized religion presents itself as the only true one. All of them have tried to deceive humanity for centuries by declaring that they have the author’s rights to the word of God. They have contributed to the conditioning of millions by convincing their victims that they own the Truth. By condemning any attempt to question its own dogmas, these ‘isms’ have impaled the believers’ ability to investigate and examine. Using all kind of ruses, they have kept the adherents on the surface: doubt is considered a spiritual weakness, thinking is pointless, investigating is unnecessary. All throughout history, these “isms” have paralyzed their followers’ faculty of thought and promoted blind fanaticism. They have convinced them that seeking is futile and have kept them in ignorance about themselves. Dogmas have dumbed down the masses. Instead of being axiomatic tools, they have become an end in themselves. Cheap religiosity has claimed for centuries to have answers to all questions. It has lacked the humility to accept and revere life’s mystery. It does not have enough honesty to publicly admit that not all our questions can be answered. Science has been sincerer and accepted that its lacks explanations to certain mysteries. Organized religiosity has impeded any kind of spiritual evolution. One of its strategies has been to disseminate a system of premade arguments. From a young age, it trains and indoctrinates us; it even gives us answers to questions we have not yet formulated. Before we even question the existence of God, it already gives us his address, inclinations, desires, and demands. On the other hand, authentic religion is not exclusive but inclusive. It motivates and supports individuals in their search for Truth. Its aim is to inspire questioning and exploration. It manifests itself when we transcend the limits of the mind and become free from the conditioning in which we are trapped. It is not a psychological phenomenon, as it does not belong to the domain of the mind. It is accessed through observations and not by faith, beliefs, and superstitions. It is reached by looking beyond any tradition and custom. What is truly sacred can only happen when fear is overcome, the mind is silenced, and we as egoic phenomena are transcended. God is not the answer, but the fading of all questions. In Hebrew, the word for answer is tshuva, or “returning to God.” Truth is experienced in the quietude that abides when the mental activity ceases. The mystery of existence is revealed when innocent silence is the only answer; that tender silence with which we answer the question: “Do you love me?” A silence that makes everything so obvious that the question fades away. Maybe one of these nights, you will raise your question to the heavens, and the blinking stars will embrace you with their deafening living silence… Such silent shouts from the depths of existence will eclipse your enigmas… Perhaps only then shall you feel a caress from Truth. “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (Kings 1: Chapter 19, 11-12). In Hebrew it is kol dmama daka, or “a voice of delicate silence.”
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