What Religion Do You Ascribe To?

Like many others, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with all organized religions (I was brought up Roman Catholic), especially after my extensive research into all the major ones I had any interest in such as Buddhism. Each seemed like little more than organizations intended to control unsuspecting masses, with scriptures of each twisted and conformed by whoever happened to be in power at the time in order to maintain control and power at any cost.

To me, much to my surprise, the worst offender was Christianity (Like the Church of Scientology who also espouses hate as the basis of their religious system, and relies on their members never actually taking the time to do any of their own research into the validity of their own religion and religious histories).

Being brought up Catholic, I started my research into world religions, and naturally started with my own. What I thought would be a quest for spirituality quickly turned to a grim discovery of atrocities, countless murders, hate, violence, oppression, fraud, plagiarism, and a host of other events that I never imagined could be at the core of the only religion I knew growing up.

Before stepping onto any soapbox, the only “religion” I found that suited me in any capacity was Mysticism, and in Mysticism, there can be many varieites.  But none of it was necessary to give my life meaning, and certainly didn’t answer the question I was most interested in which was simply:  “Is there a god at all?”  Sufism is a form of Mysticism movement based on direct connection to the Divine (whatever that may be for each of us), which teaches of personal control, power, and definition as to what any of it means for each of us, with an emphasis on love and loving.  To me, it provides far more of a moral compass that Christianity and the God of the Bible could ever hope to provide.

But my true passion and belief system resides in the kind of Mysticism that the American Indians or the Mayans (see “Shamanism and the Mayans” for one example) guided their lives by.  It’s the kind of belief system that puts the power and responsibility squarely in our own hands.  It provides countless pathways to the Divine through deep meditation, often assisted or accompanied by teacher plants known as entheogens.  Even Christianity has sacraments born not of the strange concept of eating the “flesh and blood” of their God, but by working with Teaching Plants brewed into a sacrament called Ayahuasca.

But back to the Sufis; my discussions of Shamanism, Mysticism, and Teaching plants is another topic entirely.

So, Rumi was the most famous Sufi; an ambassador to those who wished to learn about Sufism, and one of the books I would put near the top of my list of favorites (next to books like “Finding Darwin’s God”, “The Holographic Universe”, “Kafka on the Shore”, and “Dune”), would be the ‘Way of Passion’ by Andrew Harvey. The book opens with Rumi’s poem about his direct connection with his Beloved:

One breath from the lover would be enough to burn away the world
To scatter this insignificant universe like grains of sand.
The whole of the cosmos would become a sea,
And sacred terror rubble this sea to nothing.
No human beings would remain, and no creature:
A smoke would come from heaven: there would be no more man or angel:
Out of this smoke, flame would suddenly flash-out across heaven.
That second, the sky would split apart and neither space nor existence remain.

Anyway, back to Christianity for a minute: I couldn’t come to terms with all the hate that was rampant in my church; I was invited to anti-abortion rallies where participants held pictures of dead and decapitated bodies, I was encouraged to burn music and books labeled as “evil”, and I was told that those who didn’t believe in my religion were doomed to Hell, and needed to look elsewhere for my own sanity.

I also couldn’t come to terms with the vast violence of the Bible (See my “Be a Good Christian: Kill Your Children?” article for a detailed list of atrocities).  I simply couldn’t understand how the God who we were supposed to love and worship, and the God who was supposed to love us in return, could do things like ask Abraham to kill his son to prove his love, or command such death and destruction to those who did not believe in him, including an entire world’s population in the story of Noah’s Flood (which sounds an awful lot like Gilgamesh; a flood story that existed LONG before Noah and his Ark), or an entire army in the parting of the Red Sea, or entire nations that angered him, and even the first-borns of His own people to ensure that there would be no chance of Him losing His “rightful” position as the one and only true God.

I mean really, why kill all the animals on Earth except for 2 of each; what did the animals ever do to God?  And I have this burning question about what exactly those animals ate for 40 days and 40 nights, since a large number of them are carnovires…if there were only 2 gazelles, 2 zebras, etc., what would the 2 lions, the 2 tigers, the 2 leopards, and all the other meat-eaters eat on this ark, and what animals would be left to re-populate the Earth? – Maybe all the carnivores turned to vegetarianism for the duration of the flood…

Either way, look no further than the Inquisitions, the Crusades, the more recent Ku Klux Klan movements, racism, as well as wars waged in the name of God to see what a history of death and destruction that has been in the name of Jesus Christ.  See ‘Crimes of Christianity‘ also available in PDF format on this website, or research on recent atrocities by Christianity in early America.

This doesn’t even take into account the very recent discovery of the Lost Tomb of Jesus; something that most Christians are ignoring, and doing their absolute best to debunk. Unfortunately, they are relying on misinformation, misdirection, and outright lies in the hopes that most people won’t take the time to do the research themselves, like many other organized religions have done throughout time.

But, once I stopped banging my head against the wall and took a step back, I decided to look to the reason why Christians cling so irrationally to their beliefs.  It all became vividly clear and my “Clinging to Irrationality” sets forth a clear and irrefutable explanation of the irrationality.  It can be summed up in a single word:  Indoctrination.

Back to the question:  “What Religion Do You Ascribe To?”:

Many people think I’d be a Buddhist, and although I think their peaceful way of living is a beautiful way to exist, Buddha believed that we are “temporal creations born to lives of sorrow and suffering”. I think we are temporal creations born to lives of whatever we choose for ourselves, whether it’s hate, love, joy, or anguish, or the infinite number of options we are given as humans. I deeply believe that we have the power to choose our own realities, and Buddhism is at odds with that.  Two quick overviews of Buddhism and its beliefs can be found on this website and another on this website, and the strict set of rules, the need for suffering, eating once a day, giving up all my worldly posessions (despite the few I actually have); not for me, thanks.

I live by my one Golden Rule: Treat others as I would myself. Chrtistians often immediately jump on this as evidence of how I DO ascribe to Christianity no matter how much I claim I don’t, but unfortunately, that quote is not taken from Christianity; it’s taken from a Buddhist saying that existed LONG before Christianity stole that one.  (Sorry again, Christians.)

Despite anyone’s religious affliction, I think the above is where most of us fail on multiple counts.  Anyone who knows that many name brand clothes and sneakers are made in sweat shops in Taiwan, where workers are forced to put in 18 hour days, starting work at 13 years old, and working for less than $5.00/day, shouldn’t buy those clothes or sneakers, but most of us don’t think about it or don’t care.  But that’s your business, and like my vegetarianism, it’s a choice I have made for myself, and as long as I’m not hurting anyone else, no one has the right to butt into my life and my world unless I’ve specifically invited them.

So, what religion do I ascribe to? My own.If I had to choose something, it would definitely be Zen Buddhism, which I describe in detail on MyZen.org.

I take issue with at least one element of all organized religions, and have never really seen the purpose of them for the people who belong to them, other than giving them a way of feeling hope, or to feel that their lives have some meaning, or to have a moral code dictated to you. My life has plenty of meaning, and I can’t imagine anyone else possessing a greater ability to define my personal religion and connection with the Divine than myself.

What “Take refuge in Buddha” truly means is something I could now spend a lifetime describing.  Most of my time is spent clarifying my own truth, and little else matters more.

I offer clear evidence as to why people cling to irrational beliefs in my “Clinging to Irrationality” article and in the Delusions of Religion section I offer much more explanation that may be of use by many who question the validity of Christianity as a belief system, who question morality of the God of the Bible, who wonder if the Christian loudmouths have managed to distort facts and even have many believing that this country was born on Christianity (Easily refuted in my “The USA: Hijacked by Christians” article), and need some factual data to help you arrive at a more informed and fact-based opinion.

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5 Comments

  • Michael Lewis
    December 12, 2007 at 10:34 pm 

    I think the problems you ascribe to christianity belong actually to False Christianity. By this i mean, religion posing as Chrisitanity while not really having anything to do with the bible and its standards.

    I am one of Jehovah’s witnesses, we publish a book called “What does the bible REALLY teach?”. I’d Encourage you to take a look at it.

    I am by nature a very skeptical person, i have little natural faith. Why am i a witness?, Because everything we believe, i mean EVERYTHING, is based on two things, Logic, and the Bible.

    When you look at the bible, reasonably, thouroughly, with an open mind, you realize that it coincides perfectly with science, and just plain reason.

    Anyhoo if you’d like to learn more, check out the Witness’ website (the ONLY official one i might add) http://www.watchtower.org/
    or drop me a line. t2mike2@gmail.com

    Oh and btw, Jehovah asked abraham to sacrifice his son as a Test of Faith. Absolute faith. You see, Jehovah God has the ability to create life, and also to resurrect. Abraham knew this, but it took true faith, to be willing to sacrifice his own son based on his faith.

    In the end it worked out.

    Most of “christendom” doesn’t speak of resurrection. They teach that everyone goes to heaven or hell. This teaching is simply, not biblically based. Nor is it logical. (a god of love tormenting persons forever in hellfire?)

    anyhoo i’ll cease rambling. =)
    ~mike~

    ——————–

    On a side note, i came to this site because i am a big fan of Hum. I Love your work on their Astronaut album. In fact it is my absolute favorite production wise. How did you get those awesome feedback lines from the band? And the drum sounds…oh goodness the drum sounds…

  • Michael Lewis
    December 12, 2007 at 10:42 pm 

    Oh as far as the hate thing goes.
    Once again, not following the bible. The bible teaches that god is not partial, a god of mercy and love. It also tells us that Vengence is HIS not OURS. A big problem is created when people take their perception of gods will into their own hands. Violence, hate, genocide results.

    I’ve seen people come into kingdom halls ( Witness churches) and the first thing they note, is how warm everyone is, and how ALL races are there in harmony. There is no color . Its a beautiful thing. Its biblical. jesus said you will know his followers because they will have love among themselves. The exact opposite of false chrisitanity, participating in warfare, hate crimes, killing their own brothers.

    ~mike~

  • Manny Stiles
    August 16, 2008 at 2:23 am 

    I don’t think it matters as much that we don’t harm each other as much as we should be wiiling to help each other – I know, I know – it’s a lot to ask. Even more to do. But we are all a part of the same energy.

    We are but a small fraction ot “it” all. And without “we” there is no “it” at all. That which is in you is also all around you, bound to you and permeating you. This is a plane of existence under a set of rules “you” isn’t allowed to comprehend. Even if you could understand and comprehend it all, who would be able to listen to you explain it?

    A personal religion is the best religion. Your creator gave you the tools neccessary to find your way “back”, not to get you lost. Even the most organized religions rely on personal interpretations to survive – and when you rely on other’s interpretations, translations and subversive intentions (a.k.a. that which is in “them” is not “it” at all) you lose your personal connection.

    Let’s face it – the bad things that religion has brought into the world came with a separation of that personal religion for the “betterment” of the human agendas. They chose the temporary of existence on this plane over the everlasting energy.

    Humans are humans. Like the rules of physics, “we” are all relative, yet we all have the same purpose – to LOVE one another – not just to avoid karma, but to expose, fertilize and develop it!

    Don’t worry about not hurting others, focus on helping and benefiting others! Others need you more than you need you! Besides, nothing could benefit you more!

  • Enlightened
    February 11, 2009 at 2:40 pm 

    Don’t know if I could say it any better than Keith does about religion. I too went to church voluntarily as a youth and found the teachings to be somewhat damning, aggressive, hypocritical, and full of contradictions. I also have a hard time understanding people who insist that it was written by god and hes out there somewhere checking his list to see if we have been bad or good lol. I lean more toward this unnamable unlimited infinity of being able to make itself known through us by pure intention of thought and awareness. We are a part of it’s birth so in effect we are a part of the unnamable a signature of expression experiencing, learning and all that is.

    I don’t believe the infinite would communicate through words, books etc. But I believe we all have our perspectives and neither is right or wrong it just is. Also I believe something came down and interfered with our experience calling itself our god. This subject matter can be verifed by studying the past knowledge base of the earliest theoligions writings from the summerian texts to the Old testement and other beliefs structures around the world.

    I have spent countless years studing our ancient past so as to put a face on our future. Many say the past is the past so why bother and I say the past defines our future. Knowing what we are and why we have been lead away from our true self is important to knowing our now. Everytime humanity has gotton close to understand it’s divine purpose, extreme measures have been taken to close the door, whether buy burning whole librarys, torture or plain ole genocide every method to control the human mind has been employed.

    My perspective is that religions main purpose is to keep you in the dark about your divinity not get you closer to it. The church is in you, the creator is in you not out there watching. Live, Love and find the true riches out there and it doesn’t reside in monetary gain. Unplug yourself from the current mind control of TV, Radio and others perspective and get one for yourself. Sing your own song, paint your own painting and live your own life this is the motto I try to maintain. As Keith says hurt no one, effect no one negativily but feel free to experience life on your terms not others and enjoy the ride….;)

  • keith
    March 1, 2009 at 10:37 pm 

    Actually, I don’t know if I could have said it any better than those who have commented so far:

    Manny said;

    A personal religion is the best religion. Your creator gave you the tools necessary to find your way “back”, not to get you lost.

    Enlightened said;

    My perspective is that religions main purpose is to keep you in the dark about your divinity not get you closer to it.

    I couldn’t agree more, and this is one of the ideas that moved me deeply when I first read “Siddhartha” and even “The Alchemist”. To me, both are stories of finding one’s own path, one’s own personal divine, echoed in both Buddhism and Sufi traditions, and that the Divine is within each one of us.

    And this is also where the trouble comes in for me: I think the core concepts of both Buddhism and the Sufi tradition are closely aligned with what I believe to be true in relation to each of us being God, of being equally connected and co-creators in this mutually imagined reality are amazing. Those ideas not only inspire me to shine as brightly as I can, but it moves me to find some way to get others (especially Catholics and Christians) to look deeply into the facts of their religion, and decide for themselves with a completely honest and open mind, if the truth lies somewhere other than the one that was planted in your brain before you knew how to seek your own truth.

    But when I read the “rules” of each organized religion, lose all faith. Every one I’ve looked at (including Buddhism) has an extremely short-sighted, repressive, and restrictive code of conduct that to me, completely defeats the original purpose and idea of the religion. So I was left with questioning my own ideas of religion and what it really means to me, and found out more than I imagined possible; my world was turned upside down when I realized that so much of what I had simply accepted as “fact” in relation to my religion, were in fact, lies. And hypocritical, agenda-based, power-seeking lies.

    And this is where I think the internet has completely redefined and revolutionizd our world in ways that we still are not fully aware of. The internet exposes you to FAR MORE than on’es immediate family, their neighbors, their church, giving you a perspective and a change to decide your own truth that was unheard of until “www” was first typed into a computer. So many beliefs have been so effectively instilled in each of us that even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, we still don’t allow for the possibility that all we have been taught, especially in relation to religion and our origins, has mostly been a lie.

    And what amazes me most, if one wants to learn the truth about how most ancient texts such as the Bible have been manipulated, re-interpreted, and edited to suit a specific agenda of keeping power over the people who ascribe to it (thanks to the internet), it’s there, in vivid and unflinching fact. But humans tend to cling desperately to their beliefs, especially when they define who they are, despite incontrovertible evidence that most (if not all) organized religions have been manipulated and completely mutated by those in power to help them STAY in power.

    So many books come to mind like “The Jesus Mysteries” or “Jesus and Buddha” or “The Gnostic Gospels”, or documentaries such as “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”, and I always wish I could send every one of these to those who are working hard to seek the truth, despite years of conditioning.

    Actually, come to think of it, I CAN send copies to everyone who’s interested. If you’re interested in exploring some of the material that has been most influential in helping me question what I thought to be true in relation to the religion I was taught from an early age, please send me personal e-mail asking for them and I’ll send them off to you, free of charge, as a gift.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts; it’s always nice to know that one is not alone in the quest for truth on this wondrous reality we find ourselves inextricably tied to.

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