This article is about the true benefits of religion written by an a-religious scientist and shaman. I have been fully aware for decades that some religious myths, beliefs, attitudes, and actions have contributed to significant issues around the world. I have also experienced the miracles that a healthy approach to religion can help us to create.
Religion has always been a way of taking the teachings and practices of great beings and organizing them into a structure and institution with the original intent of keeping the integrity of the teachings and making them more widely available. Religions borrow from and are built on the original and very powerful oral and ritual traditions of shamanism that are open-ended, non-structured, and non-institutionalized. Because of the ability to write the teachings in the form of scriptures, religions essentially closed the opportunity for organic growth and evolution to keep up with the growth in complexity and evolution of society and humanity. That’s why the saying goes that with science and shamanism if the facts don’t prove the hypothesis then you throw away the hypothesis and come up with a new one; whereas with religion, if the facts don’t prove the hypothesis then you throw away the facts. But even though it is reluctant to change, the power and intent behind religion and its practices has not diminished and will be a big part of the human experience for the foreseeable future.
So how can religion be truly practiced in a most beneficial way? As a shaman, I usually encourage people to continue and in fact strengthen their religious practices. In many cases, this may be the only way that they can access the critically important and subconscious Mythic layer of nature. The great beings whose wisdom teachings and acts inspired the world’s religions are incredibly powerful allies and should be a part of anyone’s non-physical support team. The shamanic practice of courting our lineage or non-physical team to make sure they have our back when we call is the most critical factor in the work that we do – for we cannot go it alone. And the most efficient and effective way to engage in that dialogue with spirit is through ritual and ceremony, images and symbols; and this is precisely where religious practices contain their greatest power. The visualizing, feelings, and mental prayer aspect of religion is also powerful when done well – that is getting in the feeling place and gratitude of already receiving the blessings, experiences, and help from the great beings and/or God/Source.
The fact that religion has been used as a means to create and perpetuate the disempowering victim, perpetrator, and rescuer trap has nothing to do with the concept of religious practices, and everything to do with wounded beings acting out of ignorance and fear in ill-conceived attempts to find relief from their own inner struggles, just like they do in any other aspect of life or with any other institution or means. As is usual in these situations, it is up to the would-be victims and rescuers to keep from giving their power away to the perpetrator’s antics, so that they eventually give up that ill-fated track and turn to real healing themselves. So in the spirit of starting that journey towards the empowerment of all as it relates to religion; here is where the religious are falling short, and what they can do to get back to the original intent and power of their teachings and practices.
• Do not practice your religion out of the fear of punishment if you don’t practice it. Do not relinquish your power of individual divinity and discernment that the great beings came to remind you of and enhance.
• Do not practice your religion only for your own personal gain. Your gain is temporary at best and unsustainable if all that you are intertwined with do not also benefit in some way.
• Do not practice your religion solely to celebrate or appease the great being that is was built around. They don’t need you to do that for them.
• Do not practice your religion to appease the institution or the people that created and run it. Do not assume as well that it is the only true religion.
• Do not practice your religion in place of being a decent and harmonious human being in all of your relationships. In other words, do not become self-righteous and assume that the goal of your religion lies only beyond this life and present moment, or that you win the race to becoming some kind of perfected or superior being. There is not God or anyone else that is keeping score or judging in that way.
• Practice your religion with love and gratitude for the unconditional gifts that the great beings are offering you. Always remember that you are worthy to receive those gifts and are of equal value to all beings.
• Practice your religion always with the thought of how it will benefit all beings including yourself.
• Practice your religion with the knowledge that you are in a direct and unconditional relationship with the great beings whose lives are in pure service to you and all of humanity and the Earth and Heavens. The only rule is “ask and it is given” without exception, and allowing yourself to receive the experiences you have asked for in whatever form is possible for God to deliver. Other rules man-made rules are at best suggestions that may or may not help get the most out of your relationship with these great and helpful beings.
• Practice your religion with gratitude to those who created it, brought it to you, and are sustaining it; but just like the great beings they feel that they represent, you owe them nothing, but may choose to give them all you want to as an expression of your love and gratitude.
• Practice your religion with the knowledge that the reason the great beings came to the various parts of the world to share their wisdom and power was to simply help us to come back to our original nature as powerful, free, complex, beautiful, compassionate, and loving beings capable of enjoying living together and creating experiences for one another and all creatures in harmony, sustainability, exhilaration, contrast, beauty, and expansion.
All of these concepts hold true for those who do not belong to any kind of religion or spiritual practice, or who practice some variation or subset thereof. In fact, science in some ways can be similar to a religion, as can politics. So it is not about getting anyone to drop or change their worldviews, beliefs, religion, spiritual, or material practices, but to simply make the most of them for the benefit of all, of which they are inextricably intertwined and whose experiences with always be impacted by the experiences of all-that-is.
The only way in which there can be victims and perpetrators and the need for rescuers is when we forget our original divinity and give our power away. Religious and spiritual practices can be your way back to the “Garden”, or the mostly heavenly experience this Earth is meant to be for you, when you focus on the true teaching of the great Beings and their simple messages and example, remembering that this is who you are and have always been as well.
We are all co-Creators and we are all here for each other in the most diverse ways that we can create. Allow all paths, all beliefs, and simply make the most of what you choose. Know that no matter what someone else chooses to believe, think, or do, and how much pain that my cause you, only you can choose not to give your power away as victim and choose not to suffer the pain or after the pain is gone. Enjoy the theater that you built with all the other script writers and actors with funding and support from God.
With Great Love and Respect,