You ever look at the world and the people in it and wonder just how everything got so screwed up? How did man (to use the Genesis version) go from making the mistake of eating the forbidden fruit to teetering on the edge of self-annihilation?

In recent times, we in the United States hear a lot of rhetoric, both political and religious, about Fundamentalist Islamic Suicide Bombers. How do you create someone who not only thinks killing themselves is such a great idea that they plan it, but convince them that they are doing God’s will?

I have read the Quran and while I don’t consider myself to be an expert by any fancy of imagination, I can’t see where it justifies this teaching. Sure, it talks about martyrdom and the blessings and after death benefits of it, but I don’t see what is being taught to the young in parts of the Middle East in it.

A couple of years ago I read a translation of a service, given by I believe Yassar Arafat‘s Imam, where he started with a story of a young 14 year old boy walking up to him and proudly proclaiming that in 4 years, when he was old enough, he was going to be a martyr via bombing (implied). If that wasn’t tragic enough, the Imam was actually proud of his youthful zeal and enthusiasm. So, for these people who wish to blow themselves up in the name of God as they understand Him, I have a question:

  • You made the choice to become a bomber
  • You made the choice to strap the explosives to your body
  • You made the choice of the location to do it in
  • You made the choice of when to do it
  • You made the choice of how to kill as many as you might
  • Where is God in all this?

As far as I can tell, this is all you and no one else. That’s not God’s will, it’s yours! The simple fact is that you have decided to become a murderer and suicide and just because you do it with God’s name on your lips, doesn’t change jack, the Quran is quite explicit about the penalties for both.

Yes, I have a serious issue with these Imams that teach the young, dissatisfied and vulnerable that suicide, even in the name of God, is a career choice. Martyrdom is something God puts before you and you choose to accept or not.

But, this isn’t about being anti or pro anything, it’s about how we messed it up.

When you look at the core messages of the Teachers who claim to have messages from God or a technique for finding God from within, people just can’t help but twist it to their sick little definitions of God to the exclusion of all others.

I am not a particularly strong fan of organized traditional religion, though I do understand it’s intent. You can have a body of teaching and many examples of it in action, but for it to pass from generation to generation, you need to give it a form that can be explained or experienced. The problem is that the form tends to become more important than the purpose. A friend told me a story that illustrates this.

The abbot at a Buddhist monastery, high in the mountains had recently received a large group of young men to start their education as monks. He noticed that while the young men were enthusiastic and devout in their subjects, they seemed to be lacking something. After thinking and meditating on it for a while, he realized that being young men, they needed companionship and friendship, so the abbot took it upon himself to acquire a small puppy, which he introduced to the young acolytes.

Life in the monastery became more satisfying for the young men and the puppy slowly grew in size and love for his new home. The only problem with the arrangement became obvious when the young dog started attempting to play with the students while they were in temple and practicing their meditations.

To solve the problem, a stake was planted in the courtyard near a tree and it became the practice to tie the pup during meditation times. Now at first the pup didn’t really care for the idea, but in a short time it became habit and all was calm.

As time went on, monks left the monastery and new acolytes entered as well as teachers leaving and passing, including a few abbots. Eventually, the dog had become long of tooth and finally passed on. This threw the monastery into a near case of chaos, since it was apparent to all that a new dog must be acquired immediately, since everyone knows you can’t meditate without a dog tied out front of the temple.

Now this simple little story isn’t much unto itself, but it illustrates a trend in religion throughout history. What starts out as a suggestion or an idea, after a while becomes tradition and then potentially ritual and cannot be changed by us mere mortals.

We do the same things with our teachers as well, look at Jesus as an example. Jesus was a good Jewish boy brought up in a less than ideal side of town, but he was blessed with an insight into both people and God and he later spent the last 3 years of his life being hounded by those who wanted to ride his coattails and those who were threatened by the “new” teaching that he was giving, the miracles probably didn’t help on either of these fronts.

So what happened to him? His followers turned him into a god and put him on a pedestal so high that most of his teachings became inaccessible to the common, mere mortal, people and to incur his displeasure was a sure ticket to everlasting punishment by his father. Strange that none of this is referenced anywhere in his teachings.

I had a discussion with someone a while back about the Gospel of John regarding this (OK, I’ve had this discussion on many occasions). I was saying that John is probably the most misquoted and misunderstood book since the need of the people to insert their own egos into the expressions of the teacher. For example, what I think of as the most misrepresented verse in the Bible, John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Now a little context here… Jesus and his disciples are in a room and are preparing for the last supper. Judas has just been given his charge to go quickly about his task and Peter has sworn his allegiance and been told he will betray Jesus three times before the cock crows. He then goes on to calm the disciples and tell them not to worry, that he goes to prepare a place for them and they may join him. Thomas asks where this might be, since (once again) the disciples do not understand what Jesus is talking about. Jesus’ response is this verse, followed by “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”

This verse, John 14:6, is usually taken to be an egocentric statement of deity, but if that was the case, the following verse wouldn’t be necessary.

I’ve always found that John was the disciple who got it. John is writing about the teachings of Jesus and seems to assume we are aware of the context. If you insert the ego that most people do, then Jesus is in direct opposition to most of the rest of the Gospels where he shows himself to be the most humble. What is happening here, as happens in other scriptures as well, is that Jesus has so aligned himself with God in the form of father that he speaks his teachings in the first person for the father. Jesus does this throughout the Gospel of John. In John, we have a definitive split between Jesus, the man, born of Mary and raised as a carpenter’s son and Jesus, the Christ, who is aligned with the will of God.

How can one man be both without being crazy? One is the man, as we all are and the other is the will and spirit of the man aligned, not with his own ego but the will of the creator. This is what Jesus is pointing to us throughout his message, the Christ is within each of us and we are able to bring it into manifestation.

Some say that this is Gnosis, it is! Gnosis is just the idea that there is a knowledge that we must find, the truth of our creation, and that it is our responsibility to follow where that leads us which is eventually back to our souls and their direct relationship to God the Creator.

Sin, to miss the point, is exactly this. It’s not the eating of the fruit in the Garden of Eden against the stated will of God, but what happens immediately after the eating, Adam and Eve forget their divine nature and become completely deluded by their bodies and the nakedness of them. They miss the point of what creation is actually about and become lost in the illusion of it.

So, the question becomes; if that’s the case, why would this not be the teaching of the Church? You can’t control people when you tell them they hold all the cards in the game and God just wants you to play them.

There is a very good historical example of this, reincarnation. Very early in the history of the Church, the idea of reincarnation is brought into question, many attribute this to Origen though there isn’t a lot of evidence to support this. If this were as much of a cut and dried question as many state, this would have been quickly answered and been done with. This was actually debated for around 300 years before the official church policy was decreed. Now depending on whom you talk to, you get different reasons as to why the final removal of the idea was placed.

  1. The church father’s, knowing the vulnerability of man, removed the doctrine of reincarnation so people would not be tempted to misuse it and figure that since they have many lives, they can enjoy this lifetime and work the next. Of course the chances are, they would be doing this for many.
  2. If people knew that they had many lifetimes and that salvation wasn’t decided in a short time, the church would be impotent. The ability to sell indulgences and claim to stand in the place of God on Earth would be laughably ridiculous and the ability to control would be naught.

We could go on and on in the search for examples of this in many (read most) religions and the problem is not in the scriptures and teachings, but in the egocentric natures of the people and organizations that propagate them.

God gives man the truth through teachers and messiahs and we pervert it.

I find it amazing how in our expressed ignorance of the subject, of soul and spirit, we still insist on claiming exclusive knowledge of the correct path and way that God had intended from the beginning. I find that if I come to scripture and interpret it from the universally agreed point in all religions, that we are eternal spiritual entities who only inhabit these bodies temporarily, that the scripture all point in the same direction and have a universal teaching.

Written by R. A. Burgener

After finishing the 850 mile trek of self-rediscovery on California's El Camino Real from San Diego to Sonoma, California, Robert continued, via Greyhound, to Portland, Oregon, where he is becoming familiar with the concepts of weather and seasons after 30 years in Los Angeles.

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