Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How Religions Evolve from Spiritual Truth

I wrote this as a comment on Anonymous Julie's blog, but it really doesn't belong there. It is also too good to throw away, so I'm posting it here. Whether you like it or hate it is irrelevant. What matters is whether it is true for you, or at least, whether you can discern any truth in it.

First, you have spiritual truth and quite possibly the mystic as well, but sometimes I believe that what people refer to as mystical is simply that for which all words fall short and it has to be experienced to be understood. Religion as I am using it in this context is simply the incorporation of spiritual truth into a set of canon, tradition and dogma for the purposes of men and society. As my Uncle explained it simply and succinctly, you have a spiritual master who speaks wisdom, then he or she dies. The oral stories and parables are written down which removes some of their intended effect which is to awaken people. Then others come along who don't understand the stories fully, and in their attempts to comprehend and make sense of them, they alter or subvert* their meaning to an extent and turn them into the basis of a religion. All spiritual masters are the same master. They seek to empower people to their fullest potential without generally seeking political or financial power themselves. But the institutions that arise after they are gone are the opposite. Maybe they have to be since they are of this world. However, there were no early churches in Early Christianity. People met in houses, typically the wealthier members since they had more space. There were spiritual leaders, but everyone had a say it seemed and women were held in high regard. Then you start to see Christianity accommodate Roman society as the wealthy Roman women and their families adopted it in their households. Suddenly, slaves were admonished to obey their masters and wives their husbands. Never mind that the emperors saw Christianity differently and sought to stomp it out until Constantine embraced it possibly because of his Mother. You see this give and take as Christianity evolves from a form of Judaism to a Gentile religion in the Book of Acts and some of Paul's epistles.

I don't really care what you label it or how you label it. When I speak of spiritual truth or spirituality, I am referring to the core truths embodied in just about every major religion that each religion was spawned from. They almost all have them in common because they are all based on human experiences. They are separate from the rituals and traditions that for the most part are elaborate trappings, one could say are smoke and mirrors. Jesus and the Buddha gave sermons to people telling them the truth. They spoke simply and to the point, and it was almost intimate in a way (I lack words to describe what I am trying to convey.). How is that different from what people experience now in a church, mosque, or synagogue? I mean sometimes it happens. Sometimes the sermon hits home and you are enlightened, but often, it falls flat.

*more accurate verb for what I wished to convey

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