In Hebrew Bible, Yahweh is portrayed as an angry God who commanded his people to kill innocent children and women. Obviously, it was written by human beings to show their hatred towards another group.
There are a lot of problematic verses in Koran that apparently promote and justify violence. Those verses, hoping that the translation is correct, seem to justify killing non-believers. Terrorists worldwide have justified their acts by quoting Koran.
Atharva Vedas have hymns that ask fatal diseases to go and affect innocent women and children living in the kingdoms like Magadha which didn’t strictly follow Vedic way of living. Texts like Manusmriti say that if a Sudra or a person belonging to the fourth/lower varna listens to Vedas even by accident, molten metal should be poured into his ears. The religion has promoted Sati, burning the widows alive in the funeral pyre of their husbands, at some point of time in history.
This shows that all religions have barbaric ideas and all holy books have nonsense. But all religions do have love and peace as their central teachings too. Religions have evolved as human society has evolved. Religions are like coconuts. The outside shells may appear different but the water inside tastes the same. It is time for humanity to discard barbaric and unscientific ideas in religions and just focus on the spiritual core. It is not difficult to do. Rumi was a Muslim and he did it; Meister Eckhart was a Christian and he did it. Ramana maharishi was a Hindu and he did it. Just like the water inside the coconut tastes the same regardless of the differences in coconuts, their shells and their sizes, the spiritual core of all religions remains the same regardless of the differences in rules and regulations and commandments on how one should live.
We are evolved human beings and we have changed a lot since we first appeared on this planet as anatomically modern human beings 200,000 years before.We do not need these holy books to dictate what is ethical and what is unethical any more. In fact, these same holy books have a lot of unethical and inhumane ideas which makes modern human beings way better than the so called God who gave these scriptures as eternal laws.
So, what is this spiritual core all about? The spiritual core is much liberal. It is focused towards human salvation while living, not after the death. It lays down a path to reach the ultimate potential as a human being, were your personal boundaries are dissolved and you feel one with the whole or God. It is a path to union with God, but this God is not personal. He doesn’t have human attributes or qualities. He is the all pervading essence of everything that exists.
The idea that God as a person would create human beings and would also punish them for their wrong doings is actually silly, if we think carefully. All human beings behave according to their nature and nurture. Even though we feel like we have free will, the decisions that we make out of free will are actually the products of nature and nurture. In other words, it all depends on the person’s genetics and the experiences he went through in life. A main factor that decides how much tolerant, altruistic, loving, patient and disciplined a human being would be is his genetics. A person who is genetically predisposed to have more altruism and patience will behave more ethically. On the other hand, a person who is genetically predisposed to have negative qualities have to exercise a lot of self control and even then ends up failing to be a good human being. So, in a way, going to heaven or hell is not in your control. This is very unfair and I don’t think an intelligent God would be so unfair and stupid. Punishing his own creation doesn’t make any sense, if you think about it deeply.
Praying to God doesn’t make sense either. Doesn’t God know what you want? And what kind of God he is if he is ready to help only if you pray? Why would a God that understands the nature of all human beings and love everyone equally be partial only to those who pray? Human beings have obviously attributed human qualities to God. It is humans who expect appeasement, not God. A God who expects appeasement and prayer from people cannot be God by definition.
So I have strong disagreements with two ideas that is there in every religion: 1) God rewards good people and punishes evil doers. 2) God answers your prayers.
In fact, God as a person in the sky doesn’t make any sense at all! But God as the all pervading essence that Vedanta talks about does make sense. It is this God that Meister Eckhart, Ramana Maharshi and Rumi were devoted to. This devotion is an immense longing for union with God, which ultimately breaks the idea that you are a person separate from God. It is this God that Jesus asked people to love. This God is not the stupid person in the sky who is obsessed with ten commandments and is allergic towards idols; there is no such person. God is not a person; it is a fallacy to attribute human qualities to God. What we are talking about here is truly beyond time and space, eternal and the essence of everything that exists. We personify it for convenience, that’s it!
Between 8th century BCE to the 5th century BCE, we see revolution in the religions all parts of the world. Buddha and rishis of Upanishads in India, Lao Tzu in China and Socrates in Greece lived in this period and added a new dimension to religion. We can just isolate this new dimension and call it as spirituality. Spirituality is not interested in a person in the sky; it is interested in personal transformation that leads one to live a blissful and peaceful life. Even though the philosophies of these people appear different, most of the differences are only semantic differences. They used different words but ultimately meant the same thing. This dimension of religion is focused on humanity, love, peace and bliss.
This new dimension of religion or the spiritual core of all religions has been preserved in Sufism, a school of thought in Islam and Christian mysticism, a path followed by saints like the John of Cross and Saint Theresa of Avila in Christianity. It is also preserved and immensely discussed in the school of Yoga and Vedanta. But it is so sad that even about 2500 years after the period of Buddha, this truth remains only with spiritual seekers and hasn’t reached the common public. And, the members of the common public are fighting to preserve the outdated rules and regulations that their religions have produced.
Any human being doesn’t choose a religion out of choice, except in the case of conversions. You are a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian because you were conditioned to believe and follow that religion from birth. And anyone following a religion is made to believe that his religion is right and other religions are wrong. This biased way of bringing up children naturally leads to religious prejudice when they become adults. Religion becomes their identity and they start to defend it. People have become very sensitive that they are no longer interested in theological discussions, healthy debates and looking for ways to reform their religions. The spiritual core of the religion still remains a secret that is restricted to a small percentage of spiritual seekers who seek to know the truth, instead of blindly believing in age old barbaric concepts.
Do you want to join the small percentage of spiritual seekers in the world and understand what spirituality is all about? Get my book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta”.