• August 21, 2017

    You said last week that the longer you spend considering religions as they are “the more ridiculous they seem, the more wasteful of time and energy they appear.” (See previous post). Doesn’t this ignore the benefits they bring such as their moral teachings and their contribution to social cohesion?

    Our greatest need is to find things out for ourselves. Perhaps there is some value in following the rules imposed by others but you must find out through testing. Life provides the tests. To engage in the test you must observe yourself. You must find out what is really happening inside you.

    Let’s take the Golden Rule, which is central to Christian teachings: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you work with this rule as a practice, it goes very deep. Do you think that it means “be nice to me, don’t hurt my feelings and I won’t hurt yours”? If I remember your birthday will you remember mine? A sort of ego-reciprocity so we can all be more comfortable together? This is probably worse than having no rule at all because it justifies self-protectiveness.

    Rigorous self-examination is required. What irritates me? I must be precise in knowing this. I see that I become irritated when a friend does not listen to me. I become restless and I stop listening as I repeat to myself the points I want to make. Eventually, I interrupt my friend. Do I see that I am doing exactly what I do not want done to me?

    Often I am guilty of the very behavior I condemn in others. But this is a fairly obvious insight. I can go deeper. How do I unconsciously manipulate people? What do I do to make people like me or admire me? Do I like to remind people of what I’ve done for them or how late I worked last night? Do I set one friend against another out of envy or jealousy? When I begin to observe these actions in myself I see how they transform gold into lead.

    If I deal with these issues in myself, will I find that they are not so troublesome in others? If I disarm first, perhaps others can put down their weapons? Are you willing to do the work on self to uncover your own unconscious behavior and correct it for the sake of others?

    The Golden Rule, like any genuine rule, is an invitation to work, to inquire, not to follow.

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  • August 16, 2017

    Each religion begins with an invocant and a soaring invocation that unites heaven and earth. Each ends as a human construction consisting of rules and judgments in which God or Gods are remade in the image of man…even the non-theistic ones.

    The invocations are marvels, more feelings than words, or shall we say words that invoke feelings, each religion a different space which it is possible to inhabit temporarily when our mechanical and self-limiting experience is relinquished. The invocations still resonate and can be activated when the religion itself is circumvented.

    The longer I spend considering religions as they are, the more ridiculous they seem, the more wasteful of time and energy they appear.

    I remember how I once felt about the unity of religions. But now I see that what appealed to me was their differences and not some supposed sameness; what inspired me was that each opens up a different perception-space capable of attracting and holding a unique, impersonal quality the universe is offering to human kind.

    I think it may be time for a new invocation.

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  • January 22, 2016

    I value my work with you and the group but I must admit that there are times when we get into discussions of God that I find off-putting. I have been more or less an atheist for many years and that can shape my response to our work.

    Many of those involved in the fourth way are atheists, at least in the beginning. They pursue this path precisely because it is not a conventional religion. My question to you is ‘can you keep an open mind or is this simply a matter of unexamined belief?’

    Most atheists seem to be slaves of the very conventionality they reject. They see the way God is described or explained in religion and they dismiss that. In my view, they are rejecting religion, not God. They are dismissing a way of thinking which has many obvious shortcomings, without knowing how to look for themselves. In effect, they use the ideas of the religions they ridicule to formulate an idea or image of God they can then dismantle. Why not look for yourself? Perhaps you will find, as C.S. Lewis did, that “I was angry with God for not existing.”

    The God of the religions is a man-made God, a conceptual God that is very far from the truth, in my opinion. God is found by summoning and exploring one’s deepest feelings, not intellectually but in the heart. Can you find evidence of the miraculous in your own experience …momentary perceptions of beauty, love, joy and delight? Can you nurture and protect this evidence from the harsh materiality of ordinary thinking and behaviour?  Can you keep this evidence concept-free? Do you see that the source of these experiences is not easily explained? Now, would it be ok if we refer to these feelings as evidence of God?

    It is easy to see that humans are selfish and obsessively focussed on their own comforts. Nonetheless, I think the pursuit of God is a natural, necessary and satisfying pursuit for us. As a species, we have an unerring sense of our own insufficiency which we try to compensate for in a thousand ways. Each of us has a deep insecurity which, in my view, can only be assuaged by encounters with God, encounters that are uniquely one’s own.

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