The etymology of words reveals a great deal. Take religion, for example: in Latin ligare means to tie together, to bind or connect; and religare means to rejoin what was separated. Therefore, religion is what ties together, reunites or reconnects us... but with what? Our unknown origins? The mysterious source of our being? With our tribe? Certainly religion is what reconnects us with the Godhead, or Divine Nature.
Along the way, the word “religion” becomes defined as “obligation” – and the idea of tying together or reconnecting somehow devolves into being tied up, bound by God’s Laws, imprisoned by rigid rules. And thus the joy of an ultimate homecoming gets twisted into an ingrained and unquestioning obedience, a sheeplike submission to restrictions externally imposed by “expert authorities.”
So let us redeem religion by defining it as a means to realign with and rejoin our sovereign self, the nucleus of our cellular awareness. Call it God or Goddess, Prime Creator or Source, Great Spirit or All That Is... religion has no purpose other than to get us reconnected, in order that our soul can reintegrate with the Cosmic Oversoul. Religion is a safe route from confusion to fusion with the many facets of the One.
Fundamentalists cling tenaciously to the literal truth of their scriptures. They worship the written word as divine memos from On High. That’s why it takes a book religion to produce a fundamentalist – and the three best-selling book religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I don’t know what form Jewish fundamentalism takes, but you can be sure that in its extreme manifestation, it’s not particularly friendly towards non-Jews - just as Christian and Muslim fundamentalists don’t admit “infidels” into their paradise, and certainly not into their hearts.
Reading and writing are mostly left-brain activities engaging a “logical” masculine bias. Thus, the worship of the written word is of necessity a linear approach to non-linear reality: it perceives the divine as an Almighty Father and gives rise to a patriarchal, polarized social order that separates good from evil, light from dark, right from wrong, the sheep from the goats.
It’s easy to see how, in a pastoral community where illiteracy is the norm, the literate few can wield enormous influence over the many simply by monopolizing the interpretation and perpetuation of scriptures.
Now let’s take a look at what spirituality is all about. Spirit has been set apart from Matter as if the twain should never meet. Yet when we approach both Spirit and Matter from a scientific perspective, we find that the difference seems to be essentially vibrational: that is to say, Matter is what happens to Spirit when it slows itself down to a lesser frequency. Albert Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC2, suggests that mass and energy are interchangeable under certain conditions determined by velocity.
However, it’s possible to evolve to the point where 100% of the reality spectrum becomes accessible – by becoming, literally, All That Is! In a holographic universe, the difference between what’s micro and what’s macro is merely a question of scale. The Master Jesus is quoted as saying: “My Father and I are One.” Was he implying that he had attained a fractal awareness of the Godhead, of the Totality of Being? As a Son of God, he was divine; and as a Son of Man, human. This fulfils Meister Eckhardt’s mystical dictum that God must become Man, so that Man can become God.
In other words, the separation between Spirit and Matter is only apparent. But we have people at both ends of the reality spectrum, each claiming their end is superior or more important - a bit like the long-running feud between the Little Enders and the Big Enders in Gulliver’s Travels, wherein perpetual war is waged to decide which end of the egg should be regarded as the top.
To the scientific materialist, Matter is all that matters; while the mystic argues that Spirit permeates all space and time, and must therefore precede and prevail over Matter.
If Spirit and Matter are two sides of the proverbial coin, what does it mean to be a “spiritual” person? Superficially, one who shows less interest in material comforts could be described as “spiritual” – but does that indicate a more “correct” lifepath than someone who pays greater attention to materiality? If Spirit and Matter are indeed complementary, just like Yin and Yang, doesn’t it make sense for us to seek a dynamic equilibrium between these polarities. “X” marks the spot where Spirit and Matter intersect, where the horizontal meets the vertical, and what was once separate becomes whole... and holy! The Christ, instead of being seen as Spirit crucified on the Cross of Matter, is said to be simply on axis, and thereby freed forever from all suffering, real or imaginary. And as we uncrucify Jesus the Christ – who represents the Omega point of our evolutionary destiny – so, too, do we release ourselves from endless cycles of unnecessary grief and pain and guilt.
The “rugged look” is viewed as “scruffy” by unsympathetic eyes. What’s “sexy” to one person comes across as “obscene” to another. So do we really want to commit genocide – and, ultimately, nuclear suicide - over a mere linguistic misunderstanding? Yet, that’s how bloody wars have erupted throughout history and, sadly, this continues to be the case.
All I’m saying is: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE!
Arthur C. Clarke, the visionary writer, once remarked that all human problems can be resolved with a little intelligence. I think it would do no harm to add a generous dash of love and a measure of genuine goodwill.
[Extracted from an unpublished manuscript, THE (UNFINISHED) BOOK OF JOHN: Confessions of a former Christian fundamentalist. First posted 16 February 2007]