Religious traditions are designed to create the illusion of security. Theistic religion demands that we believe first and be gratified later, when we have followed the instructions for our salvation and reached religion’s goal, namely heaven. It is a failsafe scheme; we are to be convinced only when we are dead. We are told to sacrifice this, sacrifice that, to give up the pleasures of our current life… for what? So that we can experience bliss and pleasure in an afterlife? What is the difference? We are denying ourselves pleasure now in order to experience pleasure later. We are still caught up in desire, but it is desire for heavenly bliss rather than for earthly pleasure. Whatever its object, it is still desire. Clerics insist that desire is bad, but bribe you with the granting of your desires if you behave. Can you not see that only the label has changed? Externally imposed discipline enslaves us, it locks us into conformity and fear. We are no longer free and if we are not free we cannot grow. If we cannot grow then how can we be expected to meet the expectations of our god? The logic is flawed. Faith is a conclusion of security which the ego has invented. The human ego likes to live in lies, lies that create comfort, security and safety. Yet underneath all this nonsense our fears remain. How authentic is safety in illusion? Wouldn’t you rather know that the bridge and its foundations are unsafe before walking across, than find out half way along when it starts to tumble down? Wouldn’t you like to know what will die at the moment of your death and what, if anything at all, will remain? This requires investigation, a sharp questioning mind; not the mind of a child who wraps himself up in the cotton wool of faith, where his very dependency breeds fear and authority – in such a mind there is no love.
To pray is an easy option; it takes away responsibility and slows our progress because there is no onus to understand our own consciousness. By praying, we are placing our hopes for redemption, reward and salvation onto some other rather than see the true nature of these fears and desires within ourselves. This makes us indolent and lazy. On one hand, theistic religions say ‘God is Love’, on the other they imply that this love is conditional.
Unconditional love is when we see the full potential of another and rather than push them towards fulfilling this potential, we accept and embrace them fully as they are in the present moment. Rather than wishing to change them so that they become better or different, we love them exactly as they are regardless of whether they choose to fulfill that potential. When we pray to God, who exactly are we praying to? No-one – other than our so-called prophets and saints – has apparently ever seen this God personality. We are praying to a fabrication of our thoughts, we may as well be talking to ourselves, we may as well be in the nut house talking to a personality we cannot see. Buddha says that God, religion and all other human forms of worship are nothing but fabrications of the human mind; they are in place because we need them. What Richard Dawkins describes as the ‘delusion’ of belief in a god or gods is present in societies and cultures across the globe. Dawkins and fellow atheist academics are enjoying huge success with their books whilst causing a storm of controversy. Those who follow the laws of reason can clearly see the ridiculousness of religious belief. They see the historical arrogance, the fear-orientated dogma, the mass hypnosis, the wars and the violence. In the West, two millennia of dominant patriarchal religious culture have given humans the wonderful news that if we if we do not obey then we are pre-destined to burn in the fires of hell. The logic is that if you can make people believe in a wrathful, vengeful external God, you can utilise their belief for leverage and get vast swathes of society to behave and stay in line.