This is the third installment in attempting to answer this all-important question, What is religion?
Recently some have questioned the truth that Islam is a religion, but historically this doubt has been cast at Buddhism. And yes, Buddhism is a religion. It’s everything other than what I have defined that is not a religion, that is, what shouldn’t be part of religion. And one’s emotional reaction to any religion also determines what religion should be and in fact is. By that I mean to say that all radical interpretation, that is, interpretations that lead to emotionally radical reactions such as anger, is not part of what true religion is and is about. The rest should be considered as culture, and culture is not religion. It may even be an imitation of religion in its truest sense, but culture is not religion.
As we saw in the last paper (see What is religion? Part 2), it all comes down to ethics, or love. Metaphysics leads to ethics, but we shouldn’t completely get rid of metaphysics, because it is the only way we can come to embrace the vision needed in order to understand, that is, panentheism, or all is in God and God is in all. What we need to get rid of is our failing religions and their false laws and doctrines. This is so because of love.
Love answers an awful lot of questions that some people think they can answer with their good judgment. What really happens, however, is that good judgment can very easily, for those uninitiated into greater being, become judgmental. For example, the issue of same sex marriage and the related problems that are happening around the world, Rochester not excluded from that.
Further, no one should be making these decisions for us. First, on the personal level we are each entitled to discover our own love and meaning. And second, at least in America it’s the people who rule, and judges should not make decisions either, first, without the consent of the people, and second, when based on a law book that was written who knows how long ago. We need a little bit of creativity in the judicial system as, until a law is made, it is the wishes of the people as one united wish that is upheld.
Part of the reason that we all suffer is because of the material conception of the world and the ideologies that we variously claim to understand. When we cut through the material conception and begin to understand how all is God, then we begin to suffer less and less, and our understanding grows in comparison to how the religions of the world are the same, that is, they all gather around the same God. “Truth is one, but people call it many” (from the 5000 year old Rig Veda; somewhere we lost this truth).
On a personal level, once we grasp the truth then we understand that the truth has no religion – in the traditional sense – and neither does God. Religion was made for man (to paraphrase Christ) and once we know the truth then what need is there for religion, so long as we continue to love, in fact, love in its greatest impartation. The truth sets us free from religion, whether it is termed salvation, liberation, or the cessation of suffering in the round of continually having to change our minds because of knowing only part of the truth.
This means we know the truth of God, the universe, and man. This understanding and the love that both inspires it and comes from it is what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. Thus we must also understand that by living in God’s Kingdom we are sworn to help others assuage and love away the suffering of others, so that they may join the Kingdom in their turn. And we must do so through skillful means (see my first article), that is, loving in a way that another will be able to understand the full import of, but the most important thing is to keep them comfortable. This, then, becomes our religion, that is, ethics, or love. But we must not put the knowledge of our journey and the truth completely away, for we need it to help others, for they will all be in different places, with different understandings; and we may even need to be reminded ourselves sometimes. When we are able to do this much we will be able to do almost anything, so long as we have love and the faith that can move mountains.
This has been my opinion, what’s yours? Agree with me, disagree with me: let me hear it. Things need to change; this is your chance to tell the universe how. And don’t forget to “subscribe” to be reminded every time I post a new article.