Poor communication is at the heart of many a cult, or even a religion. It surfaces in comments of “God told me to do…” and what they are describing is some horrible act. Today we condemn it, but for thousands of years this was an aspect of religion. Almost every religion.
I’m not saying that any one particular religion is wrong. I’m not trying to usurp my will over another. I want to point out though, that error in assuming that one religion is “more pure” than another – as all have a taint of human ego.
Example: An Online Game
To illustrate this topic, I think it best to tell a story from my past. Many years ago I used to play an online game called Everquest. At the time, I was logged in and playing the game with a random stranger.
We were chatting and soon enough we talked about our professions. She told me that she was a nurse and she worked with terminally ill children. It was a very serious topic. We talked about children who died, and how that Everquest, for her, was a place to defuse and let go.
After my friend logged out, I quit the game.
Behind the game was a chat app… and the chat app was open. What I read was a chat transcript of a man screaming at me in words. Some stranger was cussing me out.
Confused, I scrolled up to the beginning of the chat transcript. As it turns out, he was writing me, and all my key strokes were copied into the chat window. This meant that my conversation with this woman, was duplicated to him.
So when I asked my online game friend, “what do you do for a living?” He replied “I’m a lawyer.” In her case, she told me she was a nurse for terminally ill children… so I responded, “it must be tough watching children die.” My same response went to him, and he thought I was insulting his profession.
It was a simple mix-up in communication.
Religion & Cults
Human beings fall prey to this problem quite often. They think they are getting “advice from God” or “knowledge from the spirit-world,” but instead they are reflecting a message from their own minds.
If these people are violent, then the religion is violent. Violence, sexual abuse, control mechanisms… today we see it in organizations categorized as “cults.” But in all honesty it’s been around since humans created religion.
I’ll start with the Christian faith. Recently my mother got into a discussion with me. She was telling me how the Bible is pure and above all other religions. This dismissal of others aggravated me enough to respond:
What about the evil parts in the Bible?
Shocked, she told me the Bible is not evil, it has no evil and is pure goodness. I’m not “attacking the faith” or the Bible, but in all honesty there are parts of the Bible that are not “good.” To call it all good, gives license to kill people who are gay, to murder women who aren’t virgins, to rape female captives of war, killing children in droves and so on.
My mother didn’t believe me, so I read from the Bible… to which she scoffed, “What translation is that!” I asked her what she prefers and re-read the same passage in the New King James Version (but any version will suffice.)
Below are a few passages detailing the human infection of the “word of God.” If the version isn’t to your liking, simply use the dropdown on biblegateway.com to select your preferred version.:
Bible Quotes: Evil Actions called Good
Killing women and children, and forced marriages: Numbers 31:7-18
Killing women and children, and raping virgins: Judges 21:10-24
Laying siege, make slaves or kill and take the spoils: Deuteronomy 20:10-14
Payment for rape: Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Kill people who work on the Sabbath: Exodus 31:12-15
Killing of those who are gay: Leviticus 20:13
Killing fortune tellers: Leviticus 20:27
Killing children who strike their parents: Exodus 21:15
Killing children who curse their parents: Leviticus 20:9
Killing those who have committed adultery: Leviticus 20:10
Burning a woman alive for having pre-marital sex: Leviticus 21:9
Killing everyone (ethnic cleansing): Deuteronomy 13:13-19
Killing women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night: Deuteronomy 22:20-21
Not of God
That “good book,” has a lot of evil actions being told as the “will of God” by the High Priests. But I’d argue that these aren’t the words of God at all. It’s more likely this is the will of the High Priests. It’s the ego of men and when they interpret the will of God they tarnish it.
Logically, if God created all human beings… why does God have a favorite? Why does God instruct some of his creation to murder and torment other creations?
Why does God even care where “His people” live? Why live on one rock vs. another?
It’s more logical (to me) to believe that people at that time allowed this behavior because it’s who they really were… go back 4,000 years and people of all nations were violent and oppressive. They saw women as sexual objects and murdered their enemies. For such people, their God reflected their views. But it isn’t God.
This is why we shouldn’t say “the Bible is the only Holy book,” as it’s obviously not entirely Holy. Unless you think rape, and murder is “Holy.”
While I have great respect of Hinduism, there is a problem with it too being an endorsement of violence. In the Bhagavad Gita (the Holy book of Hinduism) it tells a story between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna is God in flesh… and he is instructing Arjuna on a battle.
While modernist Hindu’s believe this to be allegory (a metaphorical battle), many traditionalists see it as a call to arms. That “at times we must rise up and kill our enemies.”
Consider the faith itself. Hinduism believes that:
- The world is an illusion
- Our actions return to us
- Do the ethical action that has the best return
- Good actions sow better futures and reincarnation states of being
- Ultimately good actions of non-harming release one from the karmic wheel of reincarnation
Yet there are Hindu’s who believe in a literal Krishna who ruled over India… and at times decided it was better to engage in battle and war than to operate ethically.
The bullet points above would suppose a Hindu would not be caught up in the things of this world (as they are illusions) and would strive to never harm someone in body, speech or thought… they would prefer to lay their bodies to death than commit violence.
Yet we have many today who quote from the Gita as a defense of war and conflict.
Islam and other religions are also victim to this same written violence. They are no better, nor worse, than what’s above. I’ve omitted other faiths for the sake of brevity and my lack of knowledge of their scriptures.
Suffice to say, that almost every religion can be used to defend rape and violence.
A Better Approach
A much better approach is to attune oneself first to the feeling of Love and Compassion. By love I mean love without conditions. You love people regardless of their faith, their politics, etc.
From this unconditional love, we turn to God and seek God in our own way. It can be in nature, or in paganism, or in an orthodox religion – but it must be done with INTENT to embrace God from a POINT of unconditional love. Then, and only then, do we really attune to the real God… and not a manifestation of our own ego.