Martin LeFevre: Religions Are Irreligious
Religions Are Irreligious
An American living much of the year in Mexico wrote asking me to "state my religious agenda." That's a difficult challenge. Presuming the term "religious agenda" doesn¹t reflect a built-in bias, it boils down to the large difference between religion and religiosity.
This acquaintance writes that organized religion is a "null set." By that he means that religion is invalid, indeed, that it amounts to nothing.
But I think he may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. True, thousands of years of organized religion in the so-called civilized world haven¹t made us less violent and more compassionate toward each other. The curbs on bad behavior that religion has provided through moral strictures have been offset by the divisions, hatreds, and conflicts generated by religious identification.
Religion reflects two powerful, apparently innate human tendencies--one good, the other harmful. On one hand the universality of religion indicates that the religious impulse is common to all people. On the other hand, the tendency to crystallize religious experience into organized religion reflects a ubiquitous spiritual laziness.
Each person needs to continually replenish and deepen his or her spiritual life by drawing from the well of religious reflection. However scriptures, priests, traditions, and rituals solidify, and come to replace direct perception and feeling.
The greater the genuine religiosity, the less rigidly a person clings to a belief system. But if one strips away the belief system, does the religious impulse still exist? Certainly, and much stronger--at least in the young and young at heart.
It is disturbing to realize that organized religion has impeded the spiritual development of the human being. But beliefs, the currency of religions, corrupt religiosity; and fundamentalist beliefs corrupt it absolutely. In short, the stronger the belief, the greater the spiritual corruption.
Spiritual growth is arduous. But if one takes the time to negate the separate self, through questioning and passive observation, meditation spontaneously ignites. The observer dissolves, thought slows, and time stops. Being fully in the present, the timeless now, life and death are as close as breathing in and breathing out.
Then there is something beyond words, ideas, concepts, and beliefs. Call it what you will. I don't like to give it any name (since that's where the trouble with organized religion starts).
However one has to take the time and devote the energy to it every day. Then the separate self falls away, and thought quiets down entirely. The brain is renewed, and infused with insight. Perhaps that is the true meaning of human life.
Yet even given the validity of so-called mystical experience (in the sense that there is an intelligence beyond the human mind of which the silent mind/brain can be aware), does human existence have any more significance in the universe than any other life? Tentatively, yes. Our brains, because they give us the potential to be aware of cosmic intelligence, may have significance to the intelligence that imbues the universe.
So is there a 'religious agenda' that has nothing to do with any religion? I feel there is, and that its intent is to bring about a transmutation in human consciousness. Is that beginning to happen?
When this psychological revolution fully ignites, a new species of human being will emerge. Human beings will then live in imperfect harmony with nature and each other--as opposed to our present trajectory of increasing disharmony, which is eroding the human character and soul, and driving humans toward a machine-like existence.
Religiosity begins and ends with the individual. An inner revolution starts with seeing that all intermediaries interfere with authentic religious experience.
- - Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.