For the Ego Religion is a Tool
The ego loves religion and pretends to be religious for appearances sake. It takes great pride in its religious beliefs and becomes deeply attached to its religious identity. It loves the drama, the mystery and the aura associated with the religion, which it follows, and the power and authority that stems from it. For egoistic people, religion is just another tool to propagate their own identities and further their vested interests. Through religious activity, the egoistic self tries to balance its guilt and shame with the illusion of being pious. The superficial, ritualistic and superstitious aspects of every religion are the invention of egoistic people, who find in them a great opportunity to extend their influence and establish their authority. Religion gives the egoistic individuals an opportunity to protect themselves against their own sins, without making major sacrifices or eschewing their vital interests. They follow religion according to their needs, aspirations, convenience and beliefs, speaking on behalf of God or against Him, in the name of God or in the name of scriptures and in favor of authority symbols or against them. They may accept or reject their religious beliefs, according to their convenience and personal agendas. In short, for the human ego everything connected with religion is a means to further its own ends.
Because our egos extend so much influence upon our attitude towards religions and shape their beliefs and practices, no religion in this world is free from the pollution caused by our distorted thinking and irrational behavior. Our religions do not represent God as much as our egoism and ignorance. They do not reveal truth, but the truth we want to pursue. They do not represent God, but the God in whom we want to believe. Although we are ignorant, we live and act as if we are certain about our religious beliefs and our notions of what God is and what He is not. We use religion to boost our egos, to enhance our identities and to proclaim our authority and superiority over others. Under the influence of our religious beliefs, we take pride in our religious identities, in the scriptures we read and in the prophets and masters we venerate. We use religion to compensate for our shortcomings and personal failures and hide our fears and insecurities. We invoke the authority of religion to inflict pain and suffering upon others. We use religion to curtail the freedom of individual people, where as in truth religion is supposed to free us from all bonds. When ignorant and egoistic people usurp religious authority, you cannot expect much from them.
In today’s world, religion is misused for many selfish ends. In almost every religion we find people who want to help God, instead of seeking His help for their own salvation. They speak for Him and try to assist Him every step of the way, as defenders of faith and soldiers of God, as if God is some kind of a political leader who wants His people to speak for Him and defend His reputation and ideology. Serving the humanity in the name of God is one thing. But indulging in acts of violence and destruction in the name of God is entirely different. It is ignorance and pride which makes people indulge in the most heinous acts and fight religious wars in God’s name, as if God has created this world to stage His holy wars and violent crusades. Such ignorance and arrogance degrades the very aim which our religions intend to serve, which is spreading the ideal of oneness and universal brotherhood. How many times you have heard, “My God is a jealous God?” Is He? Have you met Him and talked to Him? How can God be jealous about Himself? Can your left hand be jealous of your right hand? Can your right brain be jealous of your left brain? Only jealous minds can invent a jealous God.
The material world is an integral and inseparable part of God’s universal body. You harm it and you are but harming a part of God’s body. You defile it and you are but defiling a part of God's universal form. Some may assume that God lives only in the heaven and rules it. They may tell you that all the divinity, sanctity and morality come from the heaven or some invisible and formless God. It is stupidity and profound ignorance to believe that God is not found here upon earth, but only in the heaven or in only certain holy places where you can set up your shop and do your business.
When people talk to one another egoistically about God and religion, nothing much comes out of it, except hatred, ill will, skepticism, anger and violence. When religions come under the influence of our individual and collective egos, they become responsible for much of the bloodshed and violence on earth and unleash the very evil which everyone wants to avoid in the first place. Even after centuries of ill will and religious hatred, we have not learned from our past. We continue to divide the humanity in the name of God and religion, denigrating the very moral and spiritual values which they preach. The image of God which our religions promote is discolored and disfigured by our narrow mindedness and social conditioning.
Although we know that God is beyond all limitations and conditioning, we impart various levels of conditionality and personality to Him and engage in endless debates to prove or disprove our respective beliefs and theories about Him. God and ego have a peculiar relationship. The latter is a shadow, a formation, which can exist only in relationship with God or Self. It cannot exist independently without Him. It cannot also coexist with Him as His equal. But it strives to usurp His role, speak for Him and engage in acts that defy His law. The traditional role assigned to the egoistic self is that of a follower or a devotee. But many people act egoistically as if they are His spokespersons and guardians. The ego is truly an enemy of God, while it pretends to be His serious devote and earnest follower.
Source: The Awakened Life" by Jayaram V.
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