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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

Dr Sukhraj S Dhillon, PhD
Cary, NC 27511, USA

The real aim of a religion is spirituality,
which is the final product!

When religion is used as a shield to protect our insecurities,
then it becomes a religious war!

People in the world fall in 7 types of religious beliefs that can be grouped in 3 categories: 

a.      Dangerously religious which follow religion of:
1. Ignorance (fanatics)
2. Fear (don’ts)
3. Greed (dos) 

b.     Scientific or scholarly which follow religion of:
4. Intellect (scientific dissection)
     

c.      Spiritually Religious, which follow religion of:
5. Ultimate truth (sat)
6. Consciousness (chit)
7. Bliss (anand)
 

        Religious belief is a complex phenomenon. To understand the complexity we will go over all 7 types individually, though there may be overlap and no person is purely of one type or another.

1.   The first type is ignorance oriented.  Because people cannot tolerate their own ignorance, they hide it behind  their ego.  Their belief system functions to protect their ego.  The very orientation is in ignorance. Religion is supposed to be light. Religion is understanding and awareness. Religion is authenticity. The major part of humanity remains in the first type of religion. It is simply to avoid the reality and to avoid the gap that one feels in one's own being and to avoid the black hole of ignorance. 

     The people of the first type of religion are fanatics. They cannot tolerate the fact that other religions can exist in the world. They think that their religion is the religion, because they are afraid of losing their faith in that religion.  If there is another religion, they will become suspicious and doubt will arise.  Then they will lose certainty of their own religion. To gain certainty, they become very fanatic.  They cannot read other's scriptures.  They cannot listen to other aspects of truth.  They cannot be tolerant to other revelations of God.  Their revelation is the only revelation and their prophet is the only prophet.  Everything else is absolutely false.  These people talk in terms of absolute.  A man of understanding is always relative.  These people have done great harm to religion.  Because of these people religious wars start.  Remember not to be a victim of this first type of religion.  Almost 90% of humanity is touched by this first type of religion which is in no way better than non-religion. It may be even worse than non-religion, because a non-religious person is not a fanatic.  A non-religious person is more open, ready to listen, ready to talk about things, ready to discuss, ready to seek and inquire.  But the first type of religious person is not even ready to listen.  These dangerous people exist everywhere. They exist among Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and all religions of the world.  Everybody must be aware and not get caught up in this cycle. Only then one can rise to a higher type of religion. 

      The problem with this first type of religion is that we are always almost brought up in it.  We are conditioned in it and it becomes almost normal.  This conditioning can become so deeply ingrained that we forget that it is a conditioning, and that we must rise above it.  A Palmist was telling a man his future through palmistry.  He said you will be poor and miserable until you are 60.  Then what, asked the man hopefully.  By that time, said Palmist, you will be used to it.  That is the problem.  One can become used to certain conditioning and one can start thinking as if it is one's nature and it is the truth.  Therefore, one has to be very alert and watchful to fend this lowest possibility in oneself and not to get caught into it.  Often, we work hard in improving our life but we continue to practice this first type of religion.  The first type of religion should not be called religion because it is religion in name only.  If one continuously works on oneself with the wrong attitude, the person's nature starts yielding and one starts functioning the way he wants to function.  This habit can become second nature.  Unfortunately, sometimes it becomes first nature.  A nature is completely forgotten.   

      The characteristic of the first sort of religion is imitation.  It insists on imitation.  Imitate Buddha, imitate Christ, imitate Mahavir, but imitate and imitate somebody.  Don't be yourself, be somebody else.  If you are very stubborn, you can force yourself to be somebody else.  You will never be somebody else because deep down this is impossible. You will remain yourself. You might force yourself so much that you almost start looking like somebody else.  Each man is born with a unique individuality and each man has a destiny of his own.  If we try to become a Buddha, we may become an imitation Buddha.  We may look like Buddha, we may walk like Buddha, we may talk like Buddha, but we will miss.  We will miss all that life was ready to deliver to us. Because it happens only once. In the nature of things, God is so creative, that you cannot find another human being, who will resemble exactly you (Of course, identical twins are exception). Man is not a mechanism. It is not like similar cars coming from assembly line. Man is a soul and  is individual. Don’t imitate anybody, otherwise, you will be a victim of the first kind of religion which is not religion at all. 

2.     The second type of religion is fear oriented. Man is afraid. The world is strange and man wants to be secure and safe. In childhood, the father and mother protect,  but there are millions of children who never grow beyond their childhood. They remain stuck somewhere and they need the parents. Hence, God is called Father or Mother. They need a divine father to protect them. It has nothing to do with spirituality for them.  They are not mature enough to be on their own. They need some security.    

They who fear when they ought not to fear, and fear not when they ought to fear, such men, embracing false doctrines, enter the evil path. 

You may have watched small children with their teddy bear, blanket or something that has a special significance to the child.  There is a love relationship between the child and his teddy bear. His teddy bear is unique and irreplaceable. Even if it becomes dirty, the child continues to carry it.  Without the teddy bear, he cannot go to sleep. Without this teddy bear, he feels alone.  Many children grow physically but they never grow spiritually and they need the teddy bear throughout their whole life. Stone carved images of God in the temple to many worshippers are nothing but teddy bears.  It is objectively there but not totally objective because a great deal of subjectivity of the worshipper is subjected on to it. It functions as a screen. When a Hindu goes to the temple, he sees something which a person of another religion or faith cannot see.  The others can see only a stone statue.  He will not feel any reverence arising in him.  However, the Hindu holds tremendous respect.  It is his teddy bear and he feels very protected. 

        Whenever the individual is fearful, he starts to remember God.  God in this situation becomes a byproduct of the fear.  When the person is feeling good, there is no need to bother thinking of God. 

As long as man is in a state of fear he'll invent God. 

                                                        --J.  Krishnamurti 

In conclusion, the second type of religion is fear oriented. It is almost neurotic, because maturity comes only when you are alone and one day all of us  have to be alone.  We have to face the reality as it is.  If death is going to happen, it will happen.  

The accidents, ill health, hurricane, earth quakes-- happen at random.
These are not punishment from God. 
Helping and sharing misfortunes with each other is the best way to cope up with misfortunes.
This provides power to our soul.


The fear oriented religion is the religion of don't. Don't do this and don't do that since fear is negative.  This suggests that religion is in things and  avoiding things and closing oneself will allow one to be safe and secure.  Never taking any risk, never moving in the dangerous path is in fact preventing us from actual living.  God exists as insecurity, danger and risk. 
 

"Take a chance! All life is a chance.
The man who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare."
Take risks: If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.

The keyword for the fear oriented religion is  "Hell" and repression. Don't do this.  The second type of people are always afraid of what to eat and what not to eat. Whether to love a woman or not. Whether to build or not build a house. In fact, whatever we repress, we are never free of it.  The more and more we are in its power.  If we repress something, it goes deeper into our subconscious.  It reaches into our roots and poisons our whole being.  Deep inside, we will always carry whatsoever is repressed.  We may follow the religion as a ritual, but it will never become a part of our heart.  Repression is not a way towards freedom.  Repression is worse than expression.  Because through expression, a person is bound to become open one day or another.  But through repression one always remains obsessed.  Only life gives us freedom. A lived life gives us freedom and although an unlived life remains attractive, the mind continues to roam around whatever has been repressed.  People who live through rituals out of fear may avoid one thing yet they fall into another because the understanding is not their own.  That’s how cults form. It is fear oriented. It is the hell they are afraid of. A real religion gives us fearlessness.  If religion causes fear, it is not really a religion. 

“Cause no fear to others and accept no awe from anyone.”

3.     The third type of religion is out of greed and desire oriented.  It is a do religion.  Just as fear oriented is a religion of don't, this is a do religion.  Just as the fear oriented religion has the keyword " Hell", the do religion has the keyword "Heaven".  Everything is to be done in such a way that the other world is completely secure and our happiness beyond death is guaranteed.  Do religion or greed religion is formal, ritualistic, ambitious, and desire oriented.  It is full of desires. Although the degree of denying one's self in this life varies in the Mohammedan, Christian and the Hindu concept of Heaven, the concept remains intact. These religions promise providing in Heaven.  Mohammedan, for example, says not to partake of any alcoholic drink but in Heaven rivers of wine exist. This seems to make no sense.  If something is wrong, it is wrong.  How can something wrong become good and right in Heaven?  The whole concept is foolish. People do become religious out of greed. Whatever you accumulate here will be taken away, so the greedy person wants to accumulate something which cannot be taken away by death but the accumulating idea, the desire to accumulate is there.   

The devotion is for itself; not to desire heaven or to fear hell. 

                                                                    --Rabia el-Adawia 

Greed, fear, and ignorance are just on the periphery.  These three sorts of religions are intermixed. You cannot find a person  purely of the first type or the second type or the third type because wherever there is greed, there is fear, and wherever fear exists, there is greed and wherever greed and fear exist there is ignorance since one cannot exist without the other.  So we are not talking about pure types.  We are classifying the types so that we can gain a better understanding.  These three are the lowest type of religions and they should not be called religion.  In new wave of spiritual revolution, those who make distinction between religion and spirituality feel possessed by such a religion which focuses primarily on the greed, fear and ignorance it creates. 

4.     The fourth type is religion of intellect which consists of logic and calculation.  It is a religion of theologians and scientists.  For theologians, it is a do plus don't religion.  It is worldly, materialistic, opportunistic, intellectual, theoretical, scriptural, traditional.  This is the religion of the Pundit, the learned scholars.  This type of religion creates theology.  For many of us, it is not really a religion, but just a very faint photo copy of it. However, all the churches and most other religious places are based on this type of religion.  It provides a good routine and rituals.  For example, we go to Gurdwara (Sikh temple), listen kirtan (hymns), eat langar (free lunch) and come back without a care for spirituality.  When Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, or Christ exists in the world, the Pundits, scholars, learned people start creating a theology, a creed, a church.  They are very successful people.  They are very logical people.  They may not give us God, but they give us great organization.  They give us the Catholic church, the Protestant church, Unitarian church and so on.  They give us great theologies, cleverness, head-oriented intellect but this lacks the real spiritual experience.

In this age of science and technology, we cannot ignore scientific impact on religion. Whether we admit it or not, science and technology has become a modern day religion,  and is perceived as enemy of religion. Today, the risk and damage to religion is only when scientific logic breaks myths.  Tom Harupur (1987) in his book "For Christ's Sake," (Beacon Press) states:  "Secular humanism is fast becoming the prevailing religion of the western world. For instance, it is no longer true to describe either Canada or England as a Christian country, since the vast majority of their respected populations have no traditional ties with any religious body.  The Church of England alone has closed over nine hundred churches since 1974.  Harpur holds science and technology responsible for indifference towards the Christian Faith.”

Not only the western world, but most younger generation, in this modern era of science and technology, believes secular humanism as a spiritual and healing force, and religion as a possessive and destructive force- teaching sin and guilt; and imposing unnecessary rituals. Science alone cannot provide spiritual experience. It strengthen our faith by providing eyes, as Einstein said "religion without
science is blind." But as he further says "science without religion is lame." We need religion for spiritual growth, the real purpose of any religion.

 5.  The fifth, sixth, and the seventh type are the religions where spirituality is recognized.   

The fifth type of religion is based on intelligence and not on logic. It is based not on intellect but on intelligence and there is a difference between intellect and intelligence.  Intellect is logical.  Intelligence is paradoxical.  Intellect is analytical and intelligence is synthetical.  Intellect divides and cuts into pieces to understand a thing.  Science is based on intellect, division, analysis.  Intelligence joins together, makes a whole out of parts because the greatest understanding is that the part exists through the whole not vice versa. The whole is not just a sum of the parts.  It is more than the sum.  For example, you have a rose flower.  You can go to a scientist.  You can ask him that you want to understand a rose flower.  What will he do?  Dissect it.  He will separate all the elements that are making it a flower.  What you will find is that the flower is gone.  Instead of the flower, there will be few labeled bottles.  The elements have been separated but one thing is certain. There will not be any bottle labeled beauty because beauty is not matter and beauty does not belong to parts.  Once you dissect a flower, the wholeness of the flower is gone.  The beauty is also gone.  Beauty belongs to the whole.  It is grace that comes to the whole.  It is more than the sum of the parts. The moment you dissect a man, the life disappears leaving only a dead body or a corpse.  You will find all the elements and water content, lungs, heart, kidneys, etc. but life is missing.  The one thing that was most valuable is not there. The one thing we wanted to really understand is no longer present.                                                    

        Where is that fragileness?  Where is that aliveness, that throb of life?  When it was in the rose flower, it was totally in a different arrangement and life was present.  It was full of presence. Life was there beating in its heart.  Taken out, the part is there, but we cannot say the part is the same.  It cannot be because the part exists in the whole.  Intellect dissects and analyzes and is the instrument of science.  Intelligence is the instrument of religion. It joins together, hence the science of spirituality we can call Yoga.  Yoga means the methodology to join. 

Yoga means to put things together.  God is the greatest totality meaning all things together and in great harmony.  God is universal totality.  God is a presence.  This presence exists when the total is functioning in harmony.  The trees and the birds and the earth and the stars and the moon and the river and the mountains and sand and the ocean all combine together. This togetherness is God, the ultimate truth (sat). If we dissect, we will never find God.  If we dissect a man, we cannot find the presence that was making him alive. If we dissect the world, we cannot find presence that is God.  Intelligence is the method to join things together.  Intelligence is very synthetical.  Intelligence always looks for a higher whole, because the meaning is always in the higher whole.  Intelligence always looks for something higher in which the lower is dissolved and functions as a part, functions as a note in the harmony of the whole and the function gives its own contribution to the orchestra of the whole but is not separate from it.  Intelligence moves upwards , intellect moves downwards.  Intellect goes to the cause. Please follow it because this point is delicate(-more philosophical than cut and dry explanation).  Intellect goes to the cause whereas intelligence goes to the goal.  Intellect reduces everything to the lowest denominator.  Intellect reduces everything to the lowest.  Ask intellect, what is lotus and it will explain it is just an illusion and the reality is the earth, the mud. Because lotus comes out of mud and again falls back into the mud.  From intellects point, the mud is real and lotus is an illusion.  Mud remains, lotus comes and goes. Ask intelligence what is mud and intelligence will say it is the potentiality of being a lotus.  The mud is used and millions of lotuses flower.  Intelligence goes to the higher and higher and the whole effort is to reach the ultimate, the pinnacle of existence.

The world is nothing but mind-
All things are only of one mind-A Universal Mind.
 

God is the communion of all, the greatest family of all.  We should disappear in the whole. We should be so absorbed in the whole, that we remain individual but we become a part of the greater unity.  Like individual waves become part of the great ocean.  Meaning arises immediately whenever we become a part of the greater unity.  When a poet writes a poem, meaning arises.  Because the poet is not alone, he has created something.  When a dancer dances, meaning arises.  When a mother gives birth to a child, meaning arises.  Left alone, cut from everything else, isolated like an island, we are meaningless.  Join together, we are meaningful.  The bigger the whole, the bigger is the meaning.  That is why God is the largest, conceivable whole and without God we cannot attain to the highest meaning. 

God is not a person.  God is not sitting somewhere.  Those ideas are just without sense.  God is the total presence of existence, the very ground of being.  God exists wherever there is union.  Wherever there is a Yoga, God comes into existence.  We are walking alone, God is fast asleep. Then suddenly we see someone and we smile, God is awakened.  The other has come in.  Our smile is not isolated.  It is a bridge.  We have thrown a bridge towards the other, the other has also smiled, there has been a response.  Between  both arises a connection that we can call God, a little throb.  When we come to the tree, sit by the side of the tree, completely oblivious to the existence of the tree, God is fast asleep.  Suddenly we look at the tree and there is a surge of feeling for the tree, then God has arisen.  We are driving on the highway, God is asleep.  We are attracted to the beauty of mountains and rivers surrounding the highway, God is awake.  Wherever there is love, GOD IS.  Wherever there is response, GOD IS.  God is the space which exists wherever union exists.  That is why we say, love is the purest possibility of God because it is the subtlest union of energy.  If we forget God, love will do.  Never forget love, because God alone will not do.  Intelligence is discrimination and understanding.  Truth, "Sat" is the key word.  The man who moves through intelligence moves towards "Sat" or the truth.   

So Faith, Hope and Love abide; but the greatest of these is Love.

                                                                            --1 Corinthians 13 

6.     Next to intelligence is the sixth type of religion.  we can call it the religion of meditation.  Meditation is awareness and spontaneity.  It is radical, revolutionary, and individual.  The key word is "Chit" or consciousness.  Intelligence is still the highest form of intellect.  Intelligence is the purest form of intellect.  The ladder is the same where intellect is going downwards on this ladder and intelligence is going upwards.  The ladder is the same.  In meditation, the ladder is thrown.  Now neither upwards nor downwards movement exists on this ladder. A drowning into oneself, a sinking in.  Intellect is other oriented, intelligence is also other oriented.  Intellect cuts the other, intelligence joins the other.  Both are other oriented.  In this sixth type of religion, that of meditation or "Chit", one simply moves into oneself.  All directions are dropped.  All dimensions are dropped.  One simply tries to be oneself.  One simply tries just to be.  That is where the "Zen" exists in the sixth type of religion.  The very word "Zen" means "Dhayana" or meditation. 

7.     Then comes the seventh and the highest type of religion.  The religion of ecstasy or "Samadhi" or “Gyan”.  Just as the fifth type has the keyword "Sat" or truth and the sixth type has the keyword "Chit" or consciousness, the seventh type, the highest has "Anand" or Bliss and Ecstasy. The keyword is "Sach da Nand" or truth, consciousness, and ecstasy.  A person can be meditative and can become very silent and miss bliss because meditation can make you silent and absolutely still. However, unless dance happens in it, something is missing.  Peace is good and peace is very beautiful. There is something lacking in it and that something is bliss. When peace starts dancing, it is bliss. When peace becomes active and overflowing, it is bliss.  When bliss is enclosed in a seed, it is peace. Not only when the seed has sprouted, but the tree has bloomed and flowered then it is Samadhi.  It is also called awakening of soul by opening up a special given extra sense.  Remember this special sense can open only if the conscious mind is quieted down completely.  This is achievable through daily practice.  In the presence of conscious busy mind, the extra sense to receive bliss is fast asleep.  Highest type of religion of peace has to dance, and silence has to sing and unless your innermost realization becomes a laughter, something is still lacking.  Something must still be done. 

        These seven types of religious beliefs show us how religions and concept of God can either be misrepresented or it can be used to reach the higher level of consciousness to add extra dimension to every day life. 

        In science and technology, we describe everything by a measurement, weight or number.  We cannot define the concept of God or spirituality by these parameters.  Science, technology, and reasoning have given us technical knowledge and success, and are the spice of the modern world.  But these cannot provide “meaningful wholesome life,” which is essential for peaceful, healthy living.  We don't know how to achieve a tranquil or peaceful state of mind.  So we turn to modern-day drugs, psychologists, and psychiatrists to get our mind under control.  Many people would still like to use religion and God to live a meaningful life.  But they cannot picture a heavenly body in the sky helping us achieve tranquility. So they become confused.  

        Although we have explored the space, we have analyzed moon rocks, we have launched space ships to the planets and deeper space, we have found no heavenly body that controls the actions on this earth or controls our  mind.  It  is  the  heavenly  state  of our mind on this earth, where ideas and spirit exist, controls our actions and is God.  So in modern world of science and technology, we may not picture God as a heavenly body but we have to be in a heavenly or Godly state of mind with awakened spirit for peaceful mental health.  The various religions may differ in describing the image of God but the concept and message is always the same.  When our state of mind is lovable, clean, honest, intelligent, without fear, without enmity, without anger, without attachment, without ego, and without greed-- we will feel unbelievable comfort  and happiness-- a form of bliss or anand.  With time we will be so addicted to this state that whenever we move away we will feel pain and sorrow.  

        No matter what religion or image of God we believe in-- the prayer has to get through our mind which is the ultimate source of spiritual power.  When any religious fanatic attempts to hijack our religion, we must strive towards a careful, reasoned, democratic, humanistic and secular future.


Courtesy: This article is taken from a recent book manuscript:  "SCIENCE, RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY" by Dr. S.S. Dhillon"

Other Suggested Readings:
"A TREASURE OF GREAT SPIRITUAL STORIES"
"FAITH AND REASON: In Search of God"


Please send your Suggestions and Information to be added to the site
dr. s. dhillon <drdln@dpcpress.com>

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