If only the scriptures were used to promote life rather than indoctrinate it.
If only the religions of the world acted on the wisdom they carry in practical ways rather than call people to rote memory ritual.
If only the religious acted on what their religions embodied rather than get on with life according to knee-jerk impulse and shallow insight.
The purpose of religion is to introduce of humanity to the divine. A spiritual function in life. Transcendence. Compassion. Divine not just in theory, but in practical and essential terms. An outlook larger than life, yet always conducive to it, and wise enough to make exceptions when necessary without losing itself down dark paths.
The function of religion should be to make our time here count for what it is, as a result of itself, not in spite of it.
Where is the ‘divine’ aspect of the world? Not in some abstract paradise — as the religious leaders would have us believe — but out there, beyond the earth, in space, in the heavens that surround us, where the future of intelligent life will be based. Where the resources necessary for our survival and progress will be obtained. Once we take refuge in space we’ll preserve not just ourselves but also this Eden of ours: Earth! — our very own, one of a kind, miraculous garden in space.
The truth is, we haven’t been taking care of our garden. We’ve turned it into a huge factory-and-cesspool, or an after-party garbage can — pick your metaphor. The planet provides us with food and shelter, refuge and opportunity, and we turn it toxic and dangerous.
We’ve tasted the forbidden fruit of technological advance — and why not, there’s beauty in what it reveals — but we can’t stop indulging, abusing what it has given us, littering our world with leftovers and waste.
We need another place to feast in, a different place to go crazy in.
Out there, in the vast immeasurable heavens, lies the salvation of life on Earth. There are vast areas to exploit, places on which to set up factories, industry, mines, cities, unhinged trade without limits or borders, all without worrying about laying the only garden in the known universe to waste.
Venture to outer space and we won’t fall from grace like our cautionary tales warn us. On the contrary, we’ll maintaing and improve our technological aptitude while preserving our biologically-diverse garden.
Earth, as things stand, is life’s Ground Zero, and it needs our full attention — and us off it, doing our thing out there where there’s plenty of room, not here — if it’s to remain hospitable to us.
How have the wise religious leaders of the world missed this? How do they still, after all this time, preach about abstract heavens and theoretical deliverance when the future of humankind faces immediate threats, the way out of which is written in the stars? Do they not read between the lines of their own teachings? Do they not recognize the heavens when they seem them? Are they so self-involved and narrow-minded that they take the abstract literally, speaking of salvation in terms of prayer without action, in terms of faith without reason, in a manner that caters only to the theoretical and theological, keeping humanity captive in a prison of our own making?
Easter Island is a cautionary tale
Are they not aware of what happened to the people of Easter Island who used up their entire tree supply to build houses and make artefacts, all kinds of trinkets and technology, only to find themselves stuck in the middle of nowhere?
Easter Island is a cautionary tale. With no way out, Easter Islanders suffered the consequences of their shortsightedness. Unable to build ships to sail out into the ocean and look for new worlds — after their resources ran out in their pursuit of greatness inside a vicious circle — they died like rats in a barrel.
(Did they also eat each other, one wonders?)
Are we willing to suffer a similar fate? Are we not aware of Earth’s limitations and boundaries, at least as our paradigm stands?
Do we not see the creeping catastrophe plaguing our world?
Do we not realize that we’re grazing ourselves to oblivion, that we’re razing ourselves to the ground in the name of an advance that takes us backward, to oblivion? That we’re caught in a vicious spiral, mining ourselves to ruin, dining ourselves to death, praising ourselves without merit in our efforts to stand out from the suffocating crowd on a planet that could have been paradise? That Eden is catching fire, covered in ash and dust, wilting in the heat of our vanity? That our waters are tainted and our soil weakened? That our minerals are running out and our air — the air, of all things! — is foul, and that our time to act is limited? Now, or never! Do we not see the emergency?
The irony is heavy. Our fall from grace comes not with us getting ousted from Eden, but with Eden getting cut down, piece by precious piece, by our hand, no less.
‘The people who rendered Eden a ruin…’ Our epigraph, as things go, and not a fine one.
Do we and our religious and political leaders not realize that we render ourselves castaways on what was once paradise, making vagrants out of ourselves, victims of our own fallacy? Do we not see how we trash our way of life of our own free will, in the name of progress that goes round in circles, in the name of religion that kills life in the name of the afterlife?
Do we not see how we assemble our own hell on earth?
Let us remember what our dogmas say: that hell is where the demons were cast away, destined to live in the shadow of the heavens for eternity, close enough to observe them but never able to reach them.
The demons in question represent creatures of a world unwilling to be sustainable, creatures given over to the flagrant power of entropy and breakdown and short-term reward.
The demons in question are slaves to their impulses and momentum, unable to change course when the times demand it.
And hell is an example of what happens when people waste their opportunities. Unwilling to transcend our limitations, we invite hell over, perpetuate it with our choices. Hell, as it were, is civilization that has missed — and keeps missing — the windows of opportunity to leap forth, out of its own refuse, not making do of what’s available at any given time in a sustainable manner, and the price that comes with such waste. Not engaging the future is an infernal choice. It embodies the pain and disgust one feels after having failed to act. It encapsulates the feeling of getting stuck in a mode of life far beneath one’s potential, a life caught in the dregs of mediocrity, indulgence, and lost potential.
Hell is where the demons were cast away, destined to live in the shadow of the heavens for eternity
A life spent in the shadow of the heavenly.
Do we think hell is not real in every sense of the word? The corner into which we’ve backed ourselves is tangible, and it stinks.
To embrace the future and remain alive, let alone relevant, our world needs to expand, taking refuge in the heavens.
By not acting on our insight, we not only fail to do what is necessary. We also offend our scriptures. We fail to uphold their deeper message, to honor their wisdom and insight, falling prey to hubris, smack in the cesspool of short-sighted zealotry.
Our leaders fail to seize our imagination — fail to honor the teachings they’re supposed to uphold. They’re a Disgrace in every sense of the word.
Shame on the holy fathers and holy mothers for reducing our wise discourses to mere words and fairytales.
Shame on the faithful, as a whole, for turning into sheep — for allowing themselves to be led so willingly to their fall from grace.
‘We’re incompetent, falling short of divine potential, to each our own, and all together…’ A description that captures reality.
It wasn’t an accident that Jesus destroyed the booths of the merchants at the temple of Solomon, calling both the people and the holy fathers — who presided over that temple — unworthy of the scriptures.
It was no accident that Jesus acted the way he did. Sometimes he was kind and inviting, other times raging and accusatory. It took all kinds of perspective to engage with his audience. Jesus threw away the traditional modes of thinking, embracing an informed approach, a practical way of reaching for the heavens. He renounced the Roman system, a paradigm that persecuted the Jews and other people, to promote in its stead a way of life that opened up one’s options.
Technology has afforded us the chance to transcend this world and break on through
Jesus denounced material wealth because it was glorified to such a degree, it twisted people’s perspective, preventing them from seeing the bigger picture. He wanted to set everyone straight, and preached devotion to a king unseen, a lord of the spirit. He shattered the stone that had accumulated in people’s hearts and souls.
Jesus asked people to abandon their earthly desires so that they may be rewarded in heaven. He offered them the only way out of prison at the time.
Two thousand years later plenty has changed, while much remains the same. A faltering sociopolitical and economic system is still in effect, from the trappings of which we better escape, and fast.
But, as it were, the solution is no longer abstract and metaphorical, theosophical, philosophical, metaphysical, or mental. Technology has afforded us the chance to transcend this world and break on through, into a new world, not just in theory. We can do it in practice.
‘Space: the land of opportunity. The true promised land.’ A mission statement befitting the times, and our rising abilities.
The holy fathers/mothers of our day fail to see it that way. Like the Pharisees who so enraged — and then crucified — Jesus Christ, they’re stuck in outdated modes of thinking and meaningless religious ritual, which have little bearing, if any, on the needs of humankind. Tending to the past at the expense of the future, and completely unable to champion the transcendental nature of the wisdom they represent, they cause damage to the world.
Once again, we have to wait for that special ‘someone’ to rise up against the follies of the day, injecting spirit back into these spirited-cum-wilted holy words, these abused dicta of transcendence, to bring about not theoretical or national, but international, global deliverance.
Pope Francis seems to be on the right track. He tends to those in need while calling the Church to iron out its hypocrisies. He embraces scientific fact, adjusting the dogma to the revelations of the day, highlighting the essence of Christianity, not its power structures.
Once again, we have to wait for that special ‘someone’ to rise up against the follies of the day
Pope Francis is a force for change and reform, shaping a smarter and fitter religion as we speak, and we’re lucky to have him, be we religious or not.
I wonder how far his initiative will carry him, or his followers, or the world in general. I wish him well.
I hope he takes precautions. Sooner or later he will be targeted, like Jesus.
Whatever the case, should Pope Francis endure, will his actions be enough? Not even a stellar Pope can do the trick, not as we stand. We need someone else, someone not afraid to lose everything, who speaks from a point of total self-sacrifice, setting an example with which the masses of the world will resonate. A massive rallying-cry-slash-guilt-trip for all the things we fail to grasp on account of our limited perspectives, the very things revealed to us as we venture forth. We need someone whose words resonate with people across the globe, making us turn our heads upward, en masse, toward the heaven that awaits us, if only we took the plunge, venturing inside it.
In other words, we need another sacrificial lamb, one who will activate our guilt and make us turn our eyes heavenward, once and for all.