Sunday, November 11, 2012
On Religion and Salvation
Imagine an isolated community somewhere in a vast valley surrounded by lofty mountains fenced by a thick, hostile jungle. To top it all off, the said valley sits on a hard-to-get-to island that Google Earth doesn't have a clear shot of. In simple terms: very few people know about it and only a selected number of people know that humans actually live and thrive there.
The people in the community live peaceful lives. They live by principles that always consider love to be a core value. They do not have violent practises such as ritual killing like other known tribes do; they share their resources equally so that all may enjoy them and so that there is no notion of wealth or poverty; they do not ostracise people born under unfortunate mental or physical circumstances; and women and men are regarded as equals.
These people, isolated as they are, have never been exposed to the modern conveniences that most people have today. They have their own way of doing things and they are content with their lives. They seem like the perfect community, don't they?
Let me give you one more piece of information about them: The closest thing they have to a deity is an entity they refer to using a word that we could roughly translate as "spirit." Such is the same term they use to refer to Love and the concept of Selflessness. They have never heard of Jesus or Buddha or Chaitanya or Muhammad or any of the great teachers and benevolent figures that we revere and try to emulate. They don't even have any notion of an authoritative figure that watches over them; they simply live by the principle of Love and Selflessness.
Now, let me address something to people who profess exclusivist religious principles:
Can you, with all faith in your heart which you have for Jesus Christ or Yhwh or Allah or Jehovah, accept the idea that, just because such people have never come across your holy scriptures, they're automatically bound for hell even though they've lived Loving and Peaceful lives?
If your answer is yes, you should really be ashamed of yourself.
A Roman Catholic priest once told a story about a warlord who caused the deaths of over 50,000 people in his lifetime. On his death bed, he asked to be baptised and he allegedly repented for his sins. "He made peace with Jesus," the priest said and ended his tale with "That man is now in heaven with Him."
That story was one of the most appalling things I've ever heard in my life! Come on! You're not spreading the good news of Christ's teachings; you're spreading an utterly convenient way to fool people into thinking they won't go to hell if they accept Jesus through your principle of vicarious atonement.
[NOTE: Not all Roman Catholics and Priests adhere to such a twisted principle.]
Remember the 50,000 people the warlord murdered? What about their orphaned children who are likely to be driven to lives of crime because some fanatic nut job decided to murder their parents? Won't the warlord be accountable for their miserable lives? If his debts were suddenly wiped clean because of his possibly arbitrary decision to repent through a Catholic priest, what of those children? What if they die never knowing Christ? Will they go to hell? Mind you, if we follow an exclusivist logic, they most definitely will. And where's the justice in that? Isn't it said in the same book you base your faith in that God is just and that God is infinitely good?
People with exclusivist principles should think about this very deeply.
You see, as far as I'm concerned, there is no hell. I'm a Universalist Quaker and a student of Theosophy and I believe in the attainment of enlightenment and union with the Divine over the course of several incarnations. I also believe that the Divine Spirit (that which is called God) is infinitely just and Loving and that Love itself is proof of this. Selfless and Compassionate Love, to me, is Divine service that no creed can ever surpass. Isn't this the teaching of every great religion?
For the fundamentalist Christians and other hell believers who are reading this, let me direct your attention to 1 John 4:7-8 of the Bible. There, it says: "Dear friends, let us Love one another, for Love comes from God. Everyone who Loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not Love does not know God, because God is Love."
Do you find any resonance in this or is this one of the many Bible verses you choose to simply ignore in favour of the more violent parts that condone killing your enemies, harassing the LGBT community, subjugating women, segregating races and selling your children to slavery? Oh, are you appalled? Let me tell you that if you read the Bible meticulously enough, you will find that such things are really sanctioned by so-called Divine Authority.
I'm not telling you to leave your religion. I'm making an appeal for you to be intelligent about life. If you believe in the concept of God, you probably accept the idea that God gave you a thinking mind for very good reasons so use it wisely.
If this article has offended you, then it may be for the best.
Take five minutes of your precious time to ponder on all this.
May Peace Prevail on Earth.