Waking Up From Religion

Often our religious beliefs are handed down to us by family and culture, and by the time we are old enough to consciously choose, it’s too late because we are already brainwashed with pre-ordained beliefs that seem to be set in stone.

Ideally, the true purpose of any religion should be to facilitate a direct connection with the “Divine,” and to support spiritual awakening. Unfortunately, few, if any religions, fulfill this purpose. If they did, many more of us would be awake by now, or at least intimately connected to the Source of who we really are. Even with the prevalence of “new age” spiritual practices today, few of us have attained full spiritual awakening and direct Divine connection.

What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe that answer lies in the reasons why humanity seeks out religion, or structured spirituality, in the first place…

Seeking the answers to the unknown can be a scary business – where do we come from, why are we here, and especially, where do we go after departing? The further we travel down the “rabbit hole” in our quest for spiritual truth, the more lonely, confusing and frightening it can become. Religion preys on this fear and confusion; by providing premade answers designed to give us a false sense of security, it offers a reprieve from that inner quest, but in exchange for that spiritual crutch, we must give up spiritual sovereignty and the freedom to choose our own beliefs. We must give up the very thing it saves us from – finding our true selves.

In many ways, my spiritually convoluted childhood was a gift in disguise. Although my mother was raised strict Roman Catholic and my father was raised strictly Jewish, I was baptized Christian, and when it was time to send me to school, I was sent to a very Catholic school run by tyrant nuns. Neither my mom, nor my dad, considered that they were sending me to a Catholic school, where I would stand out like a sore thumb — with a very Jewish last name and a nose to match. I was treated differently by the nuns than the other kids but I was too young to understand why, and by the end of first grade, even the other kids formed an alliance against me. This overt judgment from nuns and peers went on for years, and as result, I did poorly in school, I had no friends, and I believed that there was something very wrong with me.

In fifth grade, the ongoing emotional stress caused me to have a nervous breakdown and, as a result, my parents enrolled me in public school, and also allowed me to figure out this “religion thing” on my own. By the time I was twelve, my immense search for truth was underway.

Up until that time, I had been taught that God was to be feared, and if you sin or break any commandments, you would be punished, and maybe even sent to a fiery hell to repent eternally. It was quite convincing, but something inside me said, it just wasn’t true.

My long and relentless search for spiritual truth delivered me to a sacred space that was, not surprisingly, void of all religion and the imprisoning dogma that keeps one from discovering the truth for oneself.

Why is it that religions often keep us from the very thing they should be doing? Instead of empowering us to a full connection with the Divine and supporting us to Wake Up and remember who we really are, they keep us asleep, buried under piles of disempowering beliefs that they programmed into our vulnerable minds.

If we are fighting to prove that we are worthy of God’s love or we must depend on a “go-between” (priest, rabbi, guru etc…) in order to communicate with God, how can we ever attain a deep spiritual connection with the Divine?

Programming Religion 

Most religions operate through mechanisms of control, but often the dynamic of control is so covert that you cannot recognize it, and if you cannot recognize it, you might easily fall for the religion’s sales pitch. Or if you are a long time follower, leaving the religion can be like extracting yourself from emotional quicksand.

Most religions, and even some spiritual practices, keep people asleep through a program of shame and secrecy. The program includes an ingenious control formula, based on disempowering beliefs, such as unworthiness, powerlessness, judgment and exclusion, all resulting in painful and debilitating emotions that can last a life time.

Installing Beliefs

Most religions install beliefs about “right and wrong,” “good and bad” and “sinful and saintly,” causing followers to believe that their well-being or salvation is dependent on their behavior, and if they disobey, they are judged and punished with the equivalent of karma or an eternal afterlife of unwanted proportions, but that is not even the worst part! The defiance of your religious beliefs automatically invokes feelings of shame, guilt, obligation or regret. These feelings, or the fear of these feelings, can be a more powerful deterrent than even the threat of physical torture.

The deepest part of the control mechanism is through manipulating emotions, so that you actually punish yourself.

For example, if your religion says that it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage, and you have pre-marital sex, you will automatically punish yourself through feelings of deep shame, guilt, regret and unworthiness. In fact, if you even think about going against the religious doctrine, these powerful emotions will induce feelings of impending regret, and make you think twice.

The same goes for things like regular “attendance”, tithing/donations and any other conditions or requirements of your religion. Your fear of feeling guilt or regret controls your behavior and makes you do things that maybe aren’t right for you, or maybe keeps you from expressing your real self. The thing is, if you are emotionally manipulated, how can you even know what is best for you? Only through free-will can you ever be inspired by your own inner being.

Because the control is coming from inside you, in the form of your own beliefs and emotions, you probably don’t even realize that you are being controlled, which is what makes this type of control even more diabolical than if someone threatened you with a knife. When you can identify an external control source, it is clear that you are being controlled, but when you have been willingly programmed with beliefs, and these beliefs are causing painful emotions, it is almost impossible to discern that an external source is in control of your life.

Taking Advantage of the Young and Vulnerable

Most people are programmed with religious beliefs either when they are too young to question those beliefs or at a very vulnerable time in their lives. For example, people seek spiritual answers when they are experiencing emotional pain or confusion. Religions feed off this, and even take advantage of this vulnerability, seducing seekers with the promise of security and comfort, for this life and maybe even the afterlife.

Sacrificing Power in Exchange for Salvation

Most religions ask that you give away your power, and that you trust the religion and its leaders more than you trust yourself. You are taught that in order to connect with the Divine, you must depend on non-physical deities, or religious leaders. If you want a prayer answered or you seek forgiveness, you must use a “go-between” because you are not worthy, or pure enough, for direct communion with the Divine. Worst of all, the message is, “Don’t trust yourself,” and, as long as you don’t trust yourself, you remain powerless to external authority.

Ruled by Conditional Worth

In most religions, there is an unspoken decree of worthiness that all practitioners agree to. Your worth is dependent on how well you follow the rules of your religion – if you do as you are told, according to your religion, or your religious leader, you are deemed worthy, and if you go against, or question the rules or beliefs, you are deemed unworthy. Unworthiness induces deep feelings of shame which leads to secrecy.

Use of Judgment

The fear of being judged, shamed or the subject of gossip is commonly used to keep followers in line, creating secrecy and keeping followers from sharing their “indiscretions” with each other. Because judgment feels like death to the ego, we will do almost anything in order to avoid being judged. As a result, everyone pretends to be a good follower, while secretly hiding any “bad behavior,” and, because no one is sharing openly, it appears that everyone else is saintly, making it impossible for you to speak your truth.

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No Room for Doubt or Questions

If you believe that your fellow practitioners will ostracize you, or report you to religious leaders, you will not likely share any feelings of doubt about the religion or its leaders – you will silently keep your questions or uncertainty to yourself, never knowing that your friend, neighbor or family member feels the same way. Judgment, and fear of being judged, supports division. As the saying goes, “Divide and conquer,” and, at all costs, keep those already conquered from coming together in rebellion. Silence and separation allow religious agendas to operate unnoticed.

Exclude Non-Believers

What about the threat of non-believers that are not part of the religion? Often, followers are well-trained in converting non-believers, with programmed answers for any, and all, objections that might come from the one they are trying to convert. Followers are often taught how to prey upon vulnerabilities, with promises of salvation, but, if that doesn’t work, the non-believer is viewed negatively, cast aside as ignorant and excluded. This type of righteousness, where the believer is right and the non-believer is wrong, is just another form of judgment and exclusion in the name of God.

The motto often is: “Either believe and join us or be excluded and judged as sinner.”

I am not saying that you should leave your religion, or even think about it – that is not the point. The point is, if you want to awaken to the truth of who you really are, you must free yourself from disempowerment. This means taking back your power from everyone and everything –including religion.

It might seem easy to blame a religion for keeping you powerless, asleep, or disconnected but religions only exist because we seek answers outside of ourselves. From the deepest perspective, religions are set up to fail you, so that eventually, you will look in the only place where you can ever find the answers you seek. Deep inside.

Religion says, “You are unworthy unless you meet certain conditions.”

Awakening reveals, “You are unconditionally worthy.”

Religion says, “You are powerless to external sources.”

Awakening reveals, “Your power is accessed as you take responsibility for your life.”

Religion separates, judges and excludes.

Awakening and Oneness are synonymous.

In awakening, you remember that who you really are is the Divine, and if you judge yourself, or others, you are really judging God.

How do you know if your religion or spiritual practice supports spiritual empowerment, Divine connection and spiritual awakening?

Most importantly, your religion or spiritual practice should work for you, and only you can decide what that means, but here are some suggestions for you to consider:

  • Your spiritual practice gives you freedom, and space, to find your own answers, even if those answers disagree with the spiritual teachings.
  • You are not judged, punished or excluded for thinking differently, or questioning ideas.
  • Your spiritual practice moves you toward love and oneness, providing the space for you to forgive yourself and others, as you let go of old heavy baggage which no longer serves you.
  • The spiritual teachings uplift you to new heights of awareness, while also inspiring you to express yourself.
  • Spiritual beliefs are offered through lessons of empowerment, and not through fear of karma, punishment or any form of disempowerment, nor should you be manipulated through guilt, obligation, or impending regret.
  • Your spiritual teacher does not encourage dependency on him or her, tell you what to do, how to think or make other spiritual teachings wrong or less than.
  • You are not asked to judge, reject or exclude others in order to remain in the religion, nor are you punished for loving those who don’t obey the rules of your religion.
  • You feel honored and respected by your teacher and peers, and you never feel as if the teacher, or spiritual practice, has power over you, or that your worthiness is in question. .
  • Your practice empowers you to discover who you really are, and supports you in developing an intimate and personal relationship with the Divine, where you experience yourself as unconditionally loved.
  • If your intention is spiritual awakening, your spiritual practice must not only empower you to discover the door of awakening, it must also encourage you to let go so that you can enter. In order to fully awaken, you must be willing to let go of even the sacred practice that got you there.

The bottom line is, does your spiritual practice direct you inward? Does it make you feel closer to the Divine? Does it empower you?

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

If you have left your religion, or you are thinking of leaving, don’t confuse leaving the religion with leaving God. Just as the saying goes, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Don’t throw God out with the religion. God has been tainted by all sorts of disempowering beliefs – from crazy rules to unreasonable nonsense and everything in between. You can leave all that behind and you can find God on your own terms, in a way that feels particularly right for you.

Losing community

Sometimes we stay in a religion well past its expiration date because if we leave, it probably also means that we must leave our community. Tolerating rules and dogma that no longer fit for us might seem like a small price to pay in exchange for the love and support of community, but that price is much higher than it appears. If you are compromising your freedom, hiding your true feelings, or constricting your expression in order to be accepted in a community, sooner or later, you will likely experience deep spiritual wounds that arise from betraying your own true spirit.

Yes, there might be a period of time where you don’t have the support of community, but I promise, your most ideal community is out there waiting for you. A massive wave of people all over the world are waking up, and leaving situations and environments that no longer fit. Just like you, they are looking for that place where they belong. It is time to come together to form empowering paradigms of community where we can all thrive, and be who we came here to be.

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Has Spirituality become another Egotistical Identity?

Spirituality in the West has been severely distorted; being a marketplace of trinkets, self-help gurus, healers, a huge variety of spiritual practices, substances and so on.

Somehow this culture has taken something very pure and simple and turned it in to something commercial, something competitive and into that which it is not. Our western mind is molded into wanting to attain something and some people on the spiritual path have spent their entire lives trying to attain, only to be as stuck and bound as they ever were.

It’s this very desire to attain something, this wanting to reach a ‘higher state of consciousness’, which is what keeps people bound and seeking. By definition, to be a seeker, you have not yet sought, and therefore those who are always seeking do not find. One of the great Tibetan Buddhists Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche who played a crucial role in bringing Buddhist teachings to the West during the Chinese occupation has this summary to say about awakening/meditation/enlightenment in Meditation in Action:

“Meditation is based on three fundamental factors: first, not centralizing inward; second, not having any longing to become higher; and third, becoming completely identified with here and now.”

So in context with the rest of the chapter this is in, he is referring to our ego, or our idea of who we are, the “me”, the “I”, has no solidity to it, and not to uphold the belief that it exists. He denounces the striving to become better or higher – as pure consciousness cannot be increased or diminished. Nothing about healing, nothing about crystals or chakras or ascension or needing to strive or to take certain substances… just to be.

Enlightenment

It’s a funny word this one, and has so many connotations and ideas surrounding it. In western culture it’s usually thought to be something that one attains after maybe 3 or 4 decades meditating in a cave, but the more I read and the more I journey, the less it seems this word is about reaching higher states or personal attainment.

“Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, only enlightened activity.”

This was said by the great Zen master Shunryu Suzuki and I can see how this fits in exactly with what Ram Dass’s Hindi guru Maharaji said to him when asked how to become enlightened. He replied “Love everyone, feed everyone, serve everyone.” How very simple hey? But in today’s mad world, do you know anyone who truly does this?

It seems that enlightenment refers to realizing our true being – what it is that we really are. This is why all the spiritual teachers I’ve come across – from Tibetan Buddhism to Zen to Advaita Vedanta to the Upanishads, usually refer to it as “Self Realization” rather than enlightenment. Finding out that we are not our thinking mind, we are not our body, we are not our emotions, feelings, desires or aversions; that we are aware of all these things, not intrinsically them. They use words like awareness, consciousness, God, the Buddha nature, emptiness and so on. It’s essentially awareness being aware of itself, and seeing as each and every one of us are already this awareness, we are all already “there”, but we have identified ourselves with the things we are aware of (body and mind) and have limited ourselves by doing so, making this the cause of all the suffering in the world. We are used to focusing on external appearances; our body, our intellect, our differences, our beliefs, but the more we turn our attention inward to our own inner workings and that awareness that is always there, we find a depth to our being that is almost scarily profound.

So this is not something that we can attain – which is hard for the western mind to comprehend, because it is so conditioned to attain. It always wants to one-up others, to be on a pedestal, to be seen, to be higher, but it is this very egocentric behavior that keeps people bound. This is why anyone who refers to themselves as being enlightened, you can rest assured that they are not; and usually when the great spiritual teachers are asked whether they are, they will dodge the question.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said in one of his talks “So you’re enlightened… what now?” He was poking fun at the western worlds way of wanting to attain and become a higher or better person, but practically in everyday life what does that mean for us? Do we shut ourselves away in a dark room meditating all day? Do we walk around with our chest puffed out, our groupies and our inflated ego? This is where for me, it comes back to what Maharaji said. If we act from the place of that realization that we are all the same essence just with our different masks on, then we will treat others as our self, making differences irrelevant and the notion of “other” as inevitably irrelevant too.

“Everywhere I go, I meet myself” Shunryu Suzuki

Surrender

The underlying current of most sages and mystics on spirituality is that of surrender; in giving yourself over completely to the whole, to help and heal those in need, and relinquish all desire in furthering our own career/bank account/self-image. We can help so many people, if we just step out of the social norm of progress and work, and stop caring so much as to what others think of us. There are most likely people living on our own street that struggle with bills, food, money, TLC and there are the seniors who could benefit from our youth, the poor who could benefit from our generosity, the lonely who could benefit from our warmth. Do any of these struggling people truly care about how well one can meditate?

It’s very easy to get caught up with the spiritual tag, and use it as a concept, an identity, instead of as a way of being. It’s really easy to get attached to the idea of being spiritual and to identify as one of the many labels out there from “indigo child” to “lightworker”, which really only separates us in another form from our fellow humans, as it’s a way of raising our self to be of supposed higher moral ground and special.

Being spiritual doesn’t mean continuously working on our self in meditation and yoga. That’s the whole point; service to others, ending the suffering and separateness in other beings. Giving and sharing without the need for reciprocation or acknowledgement. If a hand feeds a mouth, does it matter to whom they belong to? The best way it seems to attenuate the ego, to surrender and release ourselves of attraction and aversion is to serve others. Not to worry about gaining all these amazing experiences, communing with angels, seeing in different dimensions or raising ourselves on the meditation pedestal. Surrender ourselves and serve others.

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We’re on the Same Team…

The justice-seeking community are a funny bunch. We’ve all got our differences, including the various ‘beliefs’ we have, but ultimately we’re on the same team. You’d think we would be acting like it too, but unfortunately we’re not.

It’s clear that the divide and conquer strategy is in full swing, even among the truth and freedom movements. What’s the D&C strategy I can hear some of you ask? It’s when the powers-that-think-they’re-the-overlords use informational tactics to divide the people so they fight one another, instead of collectively facing the real issues.

And god dammit they’ve been successful.

There’s covert powers who are in control? I would suggest we engage some simple logic with this one. To start, money rules the world. So, who owns the money? The banksters of course. Their scam is so brilliant that they can create money out of thin air, or better put, they can digitally punch numbers into a computer and POOF, currency is created.

Now these banksters control the central banks and therefore control the governments. Enter the two-party tyranny system we call democracy. Both sides work for the same financial interests, which are not just limited to the banking industry, but the energy, pharmaceutical and media corporations too, among many others.

Essentially, we are ruled via a highly integrated corporatocracy, regardless if you understand it, or believe it to be true.

This control-system is a sick beast. It’s out of alignment with natural law, which essentially means that it disrespects the golden rule. In layman’s terms, this universal law is to do no harm, respect each others shit, honor your contracts; that sort of thing.

Because the matrix of control aims to impose their centralized global dictatorship on all of us, including the disgraceful methods they’re choosing to achieve it, they’ve broken this divine contract. Therefore, their so-called ‘power’ is undermined by their own actions.

They essentially make themselves obsolete.

But we cannot keep our heads in the sand and do nothing; we still have to deal with this layer of truth in one way or another. After all, no great organizational change occurred by riding unicorns and staring at pretty fucking rainbows.

Simply, we have both a material and energetic responsibility to face this cancer of an order and replace it with something truly made out of justice and honor.

What then, should we replace it with? Well, this is one of the million dollar questions.

Some people are fundamentalist anarchists who want zero government. Now I might be off target, but at least hear me out and then disagree with me if you wish. Personally I find that proposition unrealistic, especially until every person in every country is at some stage of enlightenment where they won’t try to monopolize, tyrannize, subjugate or apply an array of other tactics of suppression, coercion and control.

In other words my view is that we need to utilize the current operational system, at least in the transitional phase, because groups of people still exist who will fuck others over given the chance. So it makes more sense for ‘the people’ to ethically take control of the governmental system and transform it into one that honors the golden rule, at least initially.

Now I might be wrong about this, and I’m perfectly okay with that. And that’s my point; we can disagree about exactly where we go from here, but we still need to mobilize a voluntary team otherwise we’re all likely to be royally fucked.

I also see the inherent value of a money-less society because money itself is an evidence-based tool of scarcity, and therefore enslavement. It also naturally breeds excessive competition, inequality and greed. This approach could be achieved via some form of abundance-based economy, but I do realize this futurist design is unrealistic, at least in the short term.

But once again, I don’t have all the answers. No one does. I would suggest that most of us don’t want to be ruled, and therefore we’re all anarchists in the pure sense of the word, and that’s the first principle we can unite on. But how we transition to a ruler-less world is yet to be determined.

After all, oligarchical and tyrannical systems have been the norm throughout our so-called civilized history, not the exception.

So, given we need to integrate to undermine the mechanisms of the control-system, where are we at?

Unfortunately, the alternative media is in tatters. We’ve recently had a couple of big names surrounded by big controversy, causing further division. Many people are violently arguing about the shape of our reality. The conspiracy rabbit hole and it’s multiple tunnels of truth and untruth have left many people poorly focused, as well as the truth-seekers significantly divided. The competing views on Trump has also resulted in more infighting.

In addition, many people think they have their shit sorted and are ‘enlightened’, but few appear to remember they’ve continuously changed their minds and behaviors since birth. Even if they have a good idea of what the fuck is going on, many fail to realize that this ride of ‘waking up’ is a journey, not a destination.

For example, there’s a couple of quotes which have been shared tens of millions of times, which say something like ‘be the change’ and ‘I’m wise so I change myself’, but they’ve been disgraced by all those who don’t bother to truly live by them.

The hypocrisy and inaction among the truth-seekers is painfully obvious.

Yet, we’re all hypocrites to one degree or another. We’re all going to evolve our beliefs in some way too. If we truly accept that we all have our weaknesses and contradictions, and that we’ve got philosophical and behavioral refinements that we’re yet to undertake, then it makes it very easy to accept one another as comrades.

And it’s absolutely necessary at this point too. The concerning reality is that the entire freedom movement is in danger of becoming a running joke, not just to the outsider curtain hangers, but internally as well.

That’s one of the reasons why we really need to start fresh. If we begin by accepting that none of us 100% know what has, is and should be, then we will create a level playing field where we all have an opportunity to volunteer as equals on the team of truth and freedom.

If so, we will actually have a strong shot at finally unifying, which is the only bloody way we’re going to get anything seriously done.

Of course we’re already moving in a general direction, and there’s many agreements already subtly made. For example, it’s fairly clear there are certain concepts and primary targets that have manifested as a pattern within the independent media and the progressive mindsets. What follows, therefore, is a simple merger strategy that’s based on a few core values, and a few core systemic areas.

So let’s see how this resonates. In terms of values, do you personally agree with the following?

  1. We value love over hate.
  2. We value truth over lies.
  3. We value freedom over enslavement.
  4. We value happiness over suffering.
  5. We value honor over disrespect.
  6. We value cooperation over competition.
  7. We value family and community over money.
  8. We value health over business.
  9. We value peace over war.
  10. We value justice over injustice.

Sound fair? I’m going to assume that’s a yes, because otherwise you need some serious self-healing. Sorry (not sorry) to be so blunt, but your-self and your fellow-man are not your enemy.

In addition, if we agree on these values, they must be applied in every area of discourse. Of course there are areas where competition for example has its place, such as sport, but there is still cooperation first and foremost otherwise the game wouldn’t even be played. So if these values can stand the test of time, that also means they will naturally dissolve any so-called rules and laws that contradict them.

In terms of the systemic issues, let’s see if we can at least agree on the Four M’s as our primary targets for change, which are Money, Medicine, Media and Management:

  1. Money should be a sovereign public utility, not hijacked by private stakeholders and converted into a transnational banking cartel.
  2. Medicine (including food) should be as natural as possible, as well as be inexpensively available to all who need it, not monopolized by the multinational giants and perverted into the toxin-rich, addictive and unnatural substances we have today.
  3. Media should be based on truth, authentic journalism and what’s best for the people, not propagandized to create minions of the failing system.
  4. Management of our society should be designed by and for the people, not by and for the corporate and oligarchical structures.

Is that fair too? Does the whole lot sit well with you? Let’s bloody well hope so.

So in saying all this, and of the thousands of people who read it, what will actually change to unite the world’s justice-seeking communities?

To be straightforward and realistic, most likely fuck all. In truth, I actually could care less if it’s this proposal either; if a group would like to design a basic unification strategy that we can agree on, please do so. No matter how it happens, it just needs to happen, and that’s the most important thing.

However, we really do need to show some solidarity, so this has been created as an opportunity for the fragmented independent media to stand together on some core values and systemic focal points. We’re all in the position to share this information through our networks too, so if you more or less agree with this strategy for unification then there is nothing stopping you from doing so.

In addition, the recent issues arising from two key voices in the independent media has further shown that we shouldn’t be rallying around individuals, but instead be binding around some very simple and key agreements. If so, we could use them as a framework for publicly debating how they relate to the behavior of governments, corporations, oligarchs and the system itself.

By continuously saturating our agreements and discussions into the collective consciousness, more and more people – working both inside and outside of the system – will be emancipated from the delusions they’ve been programmed to have. After all, people are just people, and most of them deep down want the best for their fellow-man.

It would then continue as an education process for everybody who needs it, based on any agreements made. And as Max Igan suggests in the below interview, we could also organize a global day of protest to show unification around our quest for truth and freedom.

In any case, I primarily wrote this as an energetic injection because I know that somewhere lurking just beyond the veil, the many movements for truth and freedom have an innate capacity to put their differences to the side and come together as a peaceful force to radically transform our world into one of honor and justice.

Could this happen soon? Who knows; we’ve all been pleasantly surprised before.

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