Imagine the world in pre-human times, and ask yourself: was there a church? Did anyone speak of, or think about, God?
Is the notion of religion, then, a creation of our advanced human minds when, faced with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle that gave us too much time to ponder the questions of our origin and our eventual demise, we faced the terrorizing realities of Not Knowing?
This is a heavy conversation for an early morning cup of coffee, but I wonder about how we got to our spiritual seats of today, to the brink of believing we have all Truth and everyone else is in the dark.
For example, how do you explain a person who purports to be religious but treats people with contempt and condescension?
I see it all the time. A person follows the minute rules of his religion’s structure – eats the right foods and avoids the wrong ones, recites blessings before and after bodily functions, marks special days with food and wine and candles.
Dotting all the i’s, crossing all the t’s. Professing to know the reason behind all existence. Praying with fast-moving lips the words of his youth, the words embedded in his brain, beseeching a holy Creator to act kindly and be benevolent.
And anyone who believes otherwise can just go straight to the damnations of hell.
This person – and all like him, for there are many cloaked in a variety of world religions – believes he is doing Right. Believes he knows Truth. Feels comfort and salvation in his Knowing.
Feels sorry for Everyone Else. Poor souls, they just don’t know.
Except, when this mythical man looks down his nose at me and clucks his tongue in pity for my lack of spiritual elevation, is that a very religious stance?
I mean, isn’t there some wisdom in treating every person who crosses your path with kindness, dignity and compassion that comes from the very notion of a religious life?
So the religious men who walk down my old religious street on a Sabbath, never daring to make eye contact with me nor to reply to my kind calling of “Good Shabbos” are, so they say, righteous and religious?
I remember a time when I tried to “give up to God,” when I tried to believe that there was this Supreme Leader overseeing everything in my life, and if I could just let go and let him take over, I would find supreme happiness.
I remember that time feeling…lonely. Heavy. Not where I belonged.
I DO believe in a higher power greater than mere mortals, but I don’t bow to it as if I have no choice. And that is the problem with most overly zealous religious folks.
Saying you must follow God’s orders means you are blameless. It means your behavior is not yours but rather, you are a servant of something greater and you just can’t be held responsible.
For judging others.
Here’s what I believe: belief is personal. Obey your inner master. Answer to yourself. And let everyone else answer for their own decisions, too.
None of us are uniquely responsible for the outcome of the world. Just for our part in this maelstrom of existence.
And when you can reside in that responsibility, and leave everyone else to their part – even better, when you can see each being as a mirror replica of your very self – that’s when we’ll inch toward harmony and peace.
We are so not there. Not as long as anyone spits hateful words in my direction because I don’t walk his path. Sorry. Gotta speak my Truth.