Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The God Franchise

Many people today supplant a healthy thirst for knowledge about deeper meaning in their lives with a packaged set of beliefs their religions espouse.

Because these religions have assumed a license, they can implore people to believe in their brand of explanation as the final authority, so that followers think there is no need to question the subject more deeply.
It is this, for want of a better word, "branding" of religions’ packaged solutions, which presents us with our most fundamental spiritual dilemma. If all religions each profess to represent the essential truth about the source of Life and spirituality, why do those explanations differ so greatly? Why do we need so many distinctly different religious explanations for God, for instance?

Currently, there are something like 4,000 separate brands of religious faith – though 70% of world religions fall into essentially three categories: 33% Christianity, 21% Islam and 14% Hinduism (see pie chart). This represents some 4.2 billion people on this planet who subscribe to the top three "brands".

A closer look at the top three reveals them to be very different in practice as well as origin. Why is this important? This demonstrates that the foundation for human civilization, the root of our growth in consciousness as humanity is significantly divided on the source for belief in our origin as beings. That, which defines us, essentially divides us.

One of the earliest major authorities for religious scripture was known as the Vedas, (also known as Vedic Hymns) and these were formulated into hymns to allow them to be passed from person to person mnemonically in Sanskrit before the language was written.

Later these were inscribed on palm leaves, goat skin and papyrus and emerged from India originally by way of their earlier conquerors, rumored to be the Aryans, somewhere near 1500 BC. These became the foundation of the Hindu religion and co-incidentally, the first major alignment of man and his world to a single, all powerful creator (in the likeness of Vishnu).

This served to significantly sway the more prevalent Pagan populations away from their prehistorically polytheist tendencies. Previously the world abounded with all manner of spirits, nymphs and jinn, major and minor gods for almost every occasion of living and they were accessible to any common person without the need for an intermediary.

Once monotheism gained a foothold however, entitlement was created for a few select people to represent the interests of a single more elusive, perhaps overburdened god. Thus access to the source of spiritual power became more polarized and in a very important sense, consolidated.

Around 525 BC, Buddhism, named after the followers of Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha, emerged as one of the only major non-deity oriented religions – also from India - and was an inspired reform movement refuting some of the more debilitating teachings of Hinduism, like its caste system and the absolute sanctity of the Vedas.

Later still, on the African continent, due to a few of the more famous prophets, the theory of a single God gained more momentum and emerged as the focus of several new religions – Judaism, Christianity and later still, Islam. All were originally passed down generation to generation from those who heard the teachings of the prophets, (the original Hebrew Book of Psalms, were songs written for the harp, no doubt to make them more mnemonically portable to the illiterate masses) finally written down and preserved on scrolls and ultimately to be mass produced in bound books.

Those who were tasked with passing along the teachings of the prophets (none of the prophets wrote down their own words) became bearers of the words of the faith, or scriptures. From merely disciples they became priests and just as the prophet’s words were considered holy, so were they also considered holy as official bearers of those words.

Thus they derived their badge of sacred authority by being the only source of the holy sermons for those weren’t present when they were first spoken. This reaffirmed the ultimate power of the original clergy, as being the only ones who were reliably in-the-know about “authentic” communication from God.

In the case of the historical Council of Laodicea (363-364 A.D) however, we also know that wholesale revisions of previous Christian Holy Scriptures suddenly became less sacred and unholy and passed into antiquity as lost books of the Bible. Some of these would even be considered bizarre; without question unsavory stuff to serve as cannons for the clergy.

One such classic example is a remarkable bit of content from the Book of Enoch describing the fall of the Watchers, or Archangels sent to watch over mankind, some of whom were later punished by God for mating with human women, resulting in an offspring giant race of hybrid non-humans called the Nephilim.

The purpose of the Great Flood, according to Genesis, was to punish man for his wickedness. The Book of Enoch however, elaborates on this theme to explain that in point of fact the flood was created to rid the Earth of these gigantic beasts who were preying on man, as well as to cut off a whole hereditary branch of mankind that had been irreversibly tainted by the Grigori (Watchers) and had become in effect superhumans. See all the fun stuff you weren’t allowed to know about?

These human revisionists of the history of the prophet’s words were no doubt subject to much political and personal bias. Such editing of the canons of church doctrine has taken place in all major religions, not just Christianity. So any real “word of God” has become diluted through time by word of mouth, omissions, deletions, transcription error, translation errors from the original ancient languages, political and personal corruption of the clergy (see the King James Bible translation for example) and so forth all the way to present. So in a real sense, any modern Bible reader is seeing only the highly censored version of this supposed great volume of sacred work.

So what about these prophets, or messengers, who have supposedly acted as intermediaries for God over the ages? Most are familiar with the prophets from two of the three major religions; Christianity and Islam. Hinduism, originating from the Vedic Period (1500-184 B.C.) supposedly had no recognized prophet because it is based on a common experience of being able to hear God’s word in one’s daily Life and as such, it was not founded by an individual like the others.

However, Hinduism originated from a number of Rishis, or inspired sages, to which the content of the Vedas was revealed and they in turn passed these along as holy revelations (Śruti or “what is heard), or messages from God by singing them as hymns. There were seven of these Hindu sages or Rishis – and as such they could also loosely be characterized as prophets, but they did not represent Hinduism as a religion. They saw themselves only as messengers rather than intermediaries of God.

This is an important distinction compared to Christianity (started as a religion around 100 A.D. by Saint Ignatius of Antioch - a student of the Apostle John one of the original twelve apostles).

Jesus of Nazareth was considered to be the Christ or Messiah, whose appearance was foretold by the prophet Abraham, the founder of Judaism (circa 1800 B.C. and one of the oldest major religions).

Jesus was then, not only a prophetic representative of God, but characterized himself as his only mortal son to boot (or so we have been led to believe by many subsequent versions of the words of Jesus).

That issue by the way, comprises one of the chief conflicts with Islam, the most recent major religion on the scene, which recognizes Abraham (the original source of all Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as the first prophet and Mohammad as the last (along with some 124,000 other minor prophets – representing Islam to the nations of the world).

But Islam denounces anyone who would claim to be the son of God (see Prophets of Islam). In fact, the Qur'an considers this heresy and under more militant, radicalized interpretations of Islamic law, heresy is punishable by death as an infidel. Islam does recognize Jesus as a legitimate prophet however, so this conflict grows even more convoluted the closer you study it.

These prophets were all self proclaimed, “enlightened” individuals “chosen” by God to represent him to man in the physical plane. Since it isn't my goal to refute any claim by these or any other individuals who may rightfully have had some “communication” (see the root word commune for further insight) with God, let me just say that they may have all been accurate in their beliefs. As such, they deserve the utmost respect for courageously persevering in their determination to speak out about their visions and what they perceived as a unique connection to God.

However, what they may in fact have been “connecting” with is Life as a boundless, conscious spiritual force and intelligence that makes all of us whole again when we return to it as our source of existence.

The prophets of various religions served, on the one hand, to civilize mankind under a common desire to orient men toward higher integrity, decent conduct and civility toward others, while on the other to shape man’s purpose on Earth to one of adherence to their interpretation of God’s will. Their rules carried the severest penalties possible for failure to comply, including eternal damnation and of course eternal bliss for those who decided to fall in line. Certainly weighty choices by anyone’s standard.

As we “re-discover” the true innate properties of Life, we will again perceive that as one vast body of spirituality, Life connects us all in a way that may explain why some individuals could only conclude that they are “spoken to” by a higher power, rather than better understanding this more basic, all pervasive connection. Most of mankind has succumbed to materialism and apparently has difficulty tuning into this higher frequency of non-physical communication. Oddly enough, again as evidence of this spiritual paradox, Life as the prime motive force in this, or any other Universe is that higher omnipresent power.

And just as we know there are lower to higher Life forms on this planet, there are just as likely higher Life forms above and beyond our planet. As much as we like to believe in the geocentric, therefore an anthropocentric, view of the Universe however, their intentions and purpose are probably much less concerned with us here on Earth than our egos would admit.

An ability to commune with Life in the purest sense however, would enable one to potentially be in contact with the highest intellect imaginable anywhere in or outside our Universe. It’s really not hard to see why the prophets were so humbled by such a connection. For rather primitive men, their connection to a god-like consciousness must have been equally frightening and truly awe inspiring.

At some point in the future, religion as a study and practice of spirituality will likely cease to profess the need to subscribe to a divine will from any God and will more probably focus on reacquainting us as spiritual beings with the limitless power of our native state.

As our spiritual maturity continues to grow, we will be able to reorient ourselves to understanding our innate abilities as well - without assigning them to a simply more powerfully endowed being, not unlike ourselves in every other way.

For other information, read: A View Beyond the Stars at

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