Walking the dog this morning, I was remembering a conversation I had with a client this week about belief and faith. Awakening or Enlightenment is NOT a faith-based activity. You do not have to believe the arcane religious dogmas or doctrines of any faith in order to wake up.
In fact, quite the opposite. You have to test everything for yourself to determine if it’s actually true or not. If, in an earlier article this week, I tell you that you can awaken with three essential practices: meditation, practicing presence, and thought-busting….why would you believe my word? You need to test out what I, or anyone says, to see if it’s actually true or false.
Many of the world’s current religions are closed systems that are self-referential. In other words, they tell you to believe what they tell you because they say it’s true! You’re not allowed to question the basis for that truth. You’re just told that you ‘haven’t believed strongly enough’ if you’re having doubts. You’re also told to ignore the obvious inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and blatant contradictions in the sources of the faith or its followers. Your rational mind isn’t allowed to question the sources of doctrine or dogma, it’s only allowed to ask for clarification on the content of the doctrine or dogma.
You don’t have a rational mind so that you can ignore it. You have it because if you allow your mind to ask the single question ‘is this really true?’ it will free you from the oppression of everyone else trying to control you with their interpretations of reality. Usually they want you to give them attention or money or both. While it might be helpful to have a guide to help you awaken, the role of guide is not permanent: you must eventually be your own guide.
Our experience of being Awake, may be guided by a history of others who were able to awaken from delusion. However, it doesn’t need to be guided by their rituals, or their preferred way of doing things. We also don’t have to believe their books, just because they tell us they are holy books. Awakening will happen when we go deeper than thought, even religious thought; not when we get inundated or lost in thought. Our experience of The Absolute/The Divine/God or even if we call it Emptiness, is not mediated by words, it is a direct experience. Aren’t your most peaceful moments of communion with whatever you call The Absolute actually wordless?
But, don’t believe me: test it out for yourself!