What Does Religion Teach Us?


What religion teaches us is in my opinion one of those highly charged questions that, depending on how it’s presented, can either be taken as informative or heretical. It’s filled with contrasting opinions, historical debate, and to some extent, of unquestionable importance.

Religion in general tries to fill in the gaps of knowledge that, for centuries we have attempted to resolve, but have not been able, without the kind of believe system it offers. Religion asks us to accept on faith certain things about ourselves, our world, and our universe. It has controlled our actions to some degree, and reinforced values that we have been brought up to believe since childhood. It expects us to accept certain “truths” based on what it has identified as divine revelation, in most cases by others who we are asked to accept unconditionally based on their status within a particular religion.

Some religions claim they can absolve sin by confession to an “ordained” religious authority who we are to believe, have the power to absolve sins and wipe the slate clean, so that we can start fresh and perhaps sin again. This contrasts in many respects with the law of Karma, which holds us accountable for our actions and makes us totally responsible for altering, or refining our karma by changing ourselves through our thinking and our actions.

To be fair to religion and its intent, we also have to recognize that it does provide a moral basis for living. No one would argue that the Ten Commandments establish a code for ethical conduct or that the teachings of Christ extends the most simple and effective way of working with the heart, forgiveness, redemption, and of resolution of earthly existence.

Although the higher intent of religions has been to uplift people to be better persons, to live a life that emphasises sacrifice for humanity, we also need to look at the historical record of what religions have actually accomplished for humanity and history.

faith-vs-reason-debate-2When I refer to religions, I’m speaking about organized religion, not the fundamental spiritual values it claims to teach. For some, this is not a distinction easily accepted. Many see a person within a religious hierarchy as an unquestionable messenger from God. To question this, is to question the authority of religion itself. I, however make a clear distinction between what is religious and what is spiritual. Religiousness is taught by organized religions. While a religious person can be spiritual, a spiritual person need not be religious in the “organized” religion sense.

My position is that we are all messengers of God. We all have the capacity of divine revelation if we simply learn to listen to the higher planes where this inspiration comes from. We all have spirituality if we listen and respect that side of our nature as opposed to the physical one that is closer to the earthly existence we all inhabit.

If we recognize that spiritual knowledge and attainment are not under some lock and key, or as the monopoly of some who claim religious authority by attainment in a particular organized religious context, then it is easier to see how one can have a deep sense of spirituality without belonging to a particular religion.

Religious organizations have also been responsible for deep division between religions, discrimination and if one examines the historical record, crimes have been committed in the name of religion. This is historical fact rather than conjecture or opinion.

If a religion is supposed to teach the highest values and be credible as being a messenger from God, how can it have been responsible for such crimes against the very people it was supposed to Sheppard, which in my view is all humanity, not just some. Religions need to be responsible not only for the flock they profess to Sheppard, but also for all humanity that they belong to. If they separate themselves as one group from another, then they miss the point of what it means to be spiritual.

Spiritual people recognize the need to uplift all humanity. They don’t claim to have a monopoly on the path. They are there to help humanity as a whole reach a higher level of attainment and evolution that reflects their growth more toward the higher planes that spirituality is akin to, rather than do things that are more associated to the baser levels of existence.

Religions are not democracies, they are hierarchies. They don’t take suggestions, nor do they feel they have any accountability to their flock other than following what they feel is their interpretation of God’s intent that they are responsible for passing on to the flock.

The flock, so to speak, is not there to question the hierarchy. They are simply to follow what the religious hierarchy say is appropriate to be a good religious person or risk being considered a blasphemer.

different-religionsWhat in fact happens in the real world is that many in the flock feel dualistic because on one hand we need the approval of the religious authority to feel we belong, but in private do what our own conscious dictates is in our capacity if it in some way is in conflict with what the religious authority deems appropriate. One case in point is birth control and abortion. Although religion doesn’t teach us to be dualistic, it in fact has implied that to be accepted and have conflicting positions with its moral and ethical authority, we must be dualistic, and keep our true ideas to ourselves or risk being ostracized from the very organization we are taught to need acceptance from.

A better question to ask might be what can religion teach us, as opposed to what do they teach us?