I’ve been meaning to write an article on this subject for some time now. The reason being that the ancient scriptures of all the world’s major religions were written in the language and style of the era, and as such, have been misinterpreted by religious leaders and followers for centuries. It’s because of this misinterpretation that many people who would otherwise have been interested in finding out more about the religion of their birth, or religion in general, have been put off and avoid anything to do with religion at all costs. This is exactly what happened to me (but I’m actually glad of that because if religion hadn’t repelled me I would never have discovered my spiritual pathway). But for the record, I was born “Church of England”, and therefore, having had no experience of any other religions when I was younger, I will be writing this article from the perspective of a “reluctant” Christian.
We didn’t go to church in our family, unless someone got married, although my mother expressed religious beliefs on occasion. But I say “reluctant” Christian because, whether I liked it or not, I was a Christian by birth. I was born in a predominantly Christian country, and that was the religion that was taught in school. In many ways I was lucky to have had a father who wild horses would not have been able to drag into church at any cost, so I was not made to attend Sunday school or anything similar. The only downside with having a completely non-religious father was that I didn’t have any spiritual guidance at all. But I wouldn’t change anything because I found my pathway in the end, and I have no doubts whatsoever, that every minute detail fell into place in accordance with the Divine plan. So, by now you must be wondering where this article is going? Well, it’s like this, I felt that it would be a good thing to share some of the things that put me off religion, because I’m sure many feel the same way, and also to endeavour to give clarity to some of the misinterpretations.
What I really didn’t like was the use of words such as “sinners”, “repent”, “renounce” (sins), “righteousness”, and having to “burn in Hell” if I didn’t behave myself. I also took exception (even today but in a nice calm way) to the Christian God who is “angry”, “jealous” and “vengeful” and who will have the audacity to judge me come “judgement day”, even though he seems to be quite immature and spoilt himself, and in no position to judge others. Because apparently, not loving him in the way he demands to be loved, is the reason he gets angry, vengeful and jealous. Love with conditions! How pathetic and egoistic is that?
I feel that the word “sin” has been brutalised over the millennia and is now only a shadow of its former self. A more accurate word to use would be “imperfection”. You see, we all have imperfections; this is the reason we incarnate into flesh, in order to work on unresolved issues and karma from previous births, and ultimately get to the point where we don’t have to incarnate any more. It stands to reason that we are bound to have imperfections, otherwise what would be the point of human birth? So in the ancient scriptures the word “sin” referred to any action that was not in line with our soul pathway and purpose. Those religious fundamentalists who say we are all born sinners, actually mean that we are born with certain unresolved issues that we need to work on and ultimately overcome. They have simply not understood their own scriptures properly.
Next I’d like to deal with the word “repent”. This is actually an easy one. Originally, repenting meant “to follow an inner pathway that would lead to Self-realization; thus giving up the delusion that the bliss we all crave could be found outside of ourselves.” If we didn’t repent (look to the God within, instead of following the cravings of our desires in the “world”), and if we didn’t stop sinning (engaging in acts not in line with our soul purpose), then we would remain chained to the cycle of birth and death. Jesus said “the kingdom of Heaven is within you”, and he wasn’t joking. So, in a nutshell, when we repent we seek the Heaven within, and give up the sin, which keeps us tied us to the “Hell” of continued human birth. The true meaning of “Hell” is to be the constant slave of the mind that plays its tricks and causes us to stress and worry over nothing. This state is only consistent with life on Earth, therefore by realizing the “Self” within, we free ourselves from the constant treadmill of birth and death.
To “renounce” sin is simply to cease from engaging in actions not conducive to our spiritual pathway, and “righteousness” simply means to engage in “right activity”; positive activity that is in line with our soul purpose, for example, being of selfless service to others. I much prefer the Sanskrit word “dharma”, which means “right action”. I believe that the confusion arises because the ancient scriptures are very symbolic in meaning and go much deeper than the surface, and over the course of time, religious leaders and followers have tended to take words such as “sin” and “repent” at surface value; hence we end up with hell-fire and damnation.
Of course another huge problem is that people tend to follow religion as a matter of blind faith; having a series of beliefs, held mainly through fear, and never realising these beliefs as truth by their own life experiences. When people live their lives in accordance with their fears, instead of following the loving light that guides them from within, it can ultimately only lead to misery. I believe a simple way of knowing if a particular religion or way of living is right for you is to give it the heart test. If it conjures up a lovely feeling inside of you then it is right for you. If makes you fear or feel uncomfortable then it isn’t.
Excellent Richard, as always