It is important to be able to investigate religious questions, and what it means to be truly religious, without some authority hanging over you. As soon as we accept the authority of a system or a guru, what happens? We are presented with a method that promises a reward, one that promises to alleviate our fears and help us break free of our inner pain and sorrow. We seek this reward because we are unhappy in ourselves, we feel insufficient, lonely, small and limited and so we are persuaded to run away from these fears by exchanging them with the search for something more, something abiding, something that promises freedom. Freedom is to not be dependent. If we are depending on a system that promises to end our dependency and give us freedom, does that system not simply become another form of dependence? What has changed?
When presented with a system to overcome dependency, what happens to our own capacity to understand dependency? In a system or a religious structure where there is a predetermined path that effectively does your thinking for you, your capacity to solve your own problems moves into the background. Your own intelligence lies dormant as you become dependent on the structure (or the guru) to show you the way. Would it not be better for you to find your own way? Isn’t true freedom having the capacity to solve your own problems rather than look outwards to have these problems solved for you? If we no longer have the capacity to solve our own problems, then we lose our potential to realise freedom. Freedom itself requires freedom from dependence. Does not freedom from dependence lie in one’s capacity to understand the nature of dependence? If such capacity is denied, so too is one’s insight and fortitude; freedom is then simply not possible.
Attachment is the product of dependency. As soon as you rely on a certain thing, you become attached to that certain thing. It is clearly absurd to attempt to overcome our attachments, any attachment at all, by becoming attached to a system that promises freedom. Our motivation to overcome our attachment locks us into another movement, another pattern; a new direction that shapes our freedom, or lack of it. Our attempt to overcome attachment has simply become another attachment; we have done no more than exchange one attachment with another. There are many systems of meditation existing today that promise freedom from attachment if you follow what the guru says. And so you start following his system because his system promises a reward at the end of his boot camp. There is meditation discipline, mind control technique, chanting, the 6am cold showers; you are aware of these so-called spiritual activities that go on. You want to be free but now you are craving the reward; see that it is this very craving for freedom which limits your freedom. You are attached to the reward. Your attachment has a different name, albeit a nobler and more socially acceptable name, but now your attachment runs far deeper than the attachment for mere worldly possessions. This is the great poverty of spiritual elitism and the lesson that lies in waiting for every devotee.
If we are dependent upon a certain activity to achieve happiness – whether religious or some other form of system – then there will always be anxiety and fear; the opposites of happiness. If the goal of this activity is not forthcoming – be that enlightenment, heaven or nirvana, the sensation that is desired or whatever it is we think will make us happy – then there is the anxiety of not achieving the goal or the ideal. There is the fear of not becoming what we think we should become or achieving what we think we should achieve. We fail to realise that the goal is in Being, and that Being is not in the becoming but in simply Being, and thus cannot be a goal. Our fear and anxiety about becoming and achieving will never end. When taken to the extreme, this fear can breed aggressive behaviour as we strive to reach our objective, and this takes place under the deluded shroud of ‘what should be’. This in itself explains much religious violence across history, from the Crusades to today’s suicide bombers. The Koran states ‘Be and It is’. These four words are a statement of love. Again, this is the truth that ‘Being is not in the becoming but in simply Being and thus cannot be a goal’. Buddha stated this, so did Jesus; so have all masters across history, yet this message seems to have been lost by many of our religious systems.