By Jacqueline Maria Longstaff
The farther one progresses on a true spiritual pathway the faster the sectarian differences disappear.
When the world as we know it shatters,
When we have nowhere to go except the unknown,
Then we will either be given something new to stand on,
Or we will be taught how to fly! —Source unknown
The above quotation reminds me of a satsang I held in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I spoke about the platforms many people choose to stand on—consciously or unconsciously. Platforms are false identifications—identifications with parts of the personality—which ultimately are not who we really are. Some people identify with work or social status, some with certain characteristics that seem to work for them in society, or with their political leanings. Many still identify with a religious belief—the one they were born into. If one really wishes to embrace the Truth these false platforms have to be cast aside. So that we can be what we really are, and our real identity cannot be expressed in words. I often call this ‘being centered in nothing’.
Astrologically, at the time of writing this article, the planet Saturn was making its journey through the sign of Gemini and had been opposing the planet Pluto in Sagittarius. The platform being pulled from under many people’s feet was, and still is, that of their belief system. The belief system I wish to focus on here is that of religious belief. As the planet Pluto still journeys through the sign of Sagittarius the whole subject of religion and religious fanaticism is brought into sharp focus. Pluto is the planet of deep transformation—death and rebirth—and during this process prior to transformation a shadow comes to the surface. One of the keywords for Sagittarius is religion—the shadow side is religious fanaticism, dogma and holy wars.
Right now the predominance of shadowy side is amply evident in a flurry of religious conflicts we witness around us. As I write this I remember something I once read many years ago about religious fanaticism: “If you don’t believe you will be saved by my redeemer’s blood, I’ll drown you in your own!”
Pluto takes many years to complete its journey through Sagittarius and as it now reaches the halfway mark I feel the time has come to move on from religious fanaticism to the next phase—transformation. On a recent trip to India I was visiting a well-known spiritual teacher and poet whom I will simply call Achan. I told him about a saying often used by a friend of mine: “God save us from religion.” Achan enjoyed this phrase and said we really needed to save God both from religion and religious fanatics as well! We talked a little longer and in no time we created a collective vision—a project we wished to bring to as many people as possible. The title of this vision became Free God From Religious Fanaticism (FGFRF).
I feel one of the greatest differences between religion and spirituality is that religion focuses on the outer—an outer doctrine, someone out there who interprets the doctrine, someone out there to worship. Answers come from outside, from an external authority even though one of the greatest teachings of the Christian religion is “The kingdom of God is within you”.
True spirituality focuses on inner experience or realization—on inner authority. Answers come from within. Religion is belief orientated and spirituality is based on knowing. Religion seems to create a peculiar ‘my savior is better than your savior’ type of mindset. Is this much different from ‘My Dad’s richer than your Dad!’?
I saw an interesting video of a lecture given by Russell Targ where, at one point, he said that most religious wars had been fought over which software we use to connect ourselves to the ‘psychic internet’. Imagine us reaching a time on this planet when all people can agree that this is so!
The further one progresses on a true spiritual pathway the faster the differences disappear. Through inner experience people come to the same realization and there is nothing to fight about. In fact there is nothing really to be discussed. In this state of deep silence and knowledge every aspect of creation is embraced.
The FGFRF project is for the whole of humanity, not for a chosen few. We could say that those who have progressed far enough on their journey that they do not need to give the Divine a name or form do not need this project. They may be inspired by our work and find some creative ways to contribute, but they have their own inner experience and do not need help in removing the platform! It seems appropriate at this point in time to respect the reality of the majority of people who still use the word ‘God’. From there perhaps many people can move on together. I feel that many people still have a need for some kind of form or structure. It is not so easy for them to relate to nothingness. A story illustrates this.
I have a friend in Sweden who has a studio for color therapy. It is a pure place and is of a very high vibration. I remember something he told me the first time I went to visit him. The colors he had used in the various rooms were clear and vibrant and there was much space everywhere with hardly any other form of decoration. However, he told me that initially people coming to the studio had often become nervous because of the apparent emptiness—so much so that he finally decided to hang a few things on the walls and place a few magazines on the table in the waiting room and consultation room. The result was that people found it easier to relax. It was difficult for most of them to relate to nothingness!
It is the same with the temple. People are used to having something to project their inner God nature onto and without something may not be able to relate to the message being given. This is natural for part of the journey. However the message of FGFRF is acceptance of and understanding of the nature of these lesser forms such as religions, gods and goddesses and other personifications of Shakti or the Universal Power. The message is that every prayer, mantra or invocation, no matter who or what it is directed towards, is ultimately an attempt to connect with this Universal Power—call it God Force if you wish—that pervades the whole of creation. In the difficult times facing humanity it is only this force which can protect us, and we are also that force.
Let us also remember that the goal of all pathways is the same and it is the same impulse that moves people to reach out for something beyond the limits of the personal self. FGFRF will work to offer many more people a direct experience of this Truth, which has been the reality of some of us for a long time. As heart chakras open and people have a direct experience of oneness, feelings of separation and fears about paths different from our own will disappear. There is no room for them in this new reality. Achan and I imagined there could be groups and individuals who may be inspired by the idea of FGFRF and who would thereby contribute to this project in their own creative way. As I travel in the world and hold talks and satsangs I also hold and encourage meditation retreats. A meditation retreat is always a wonderful opportunity for a direct experience of who we really are, to allow the false platforms or identifications to fall away and enable the true light of Self, God, or whatever you wish to call it, to shine through.
Some time ago, I came across an interview in USA Today with the well-known Mexican singer Carlos Santana who said: “Spirituality is like water and sun. When it rains, the prostitute and the Pope get wet just the same. Spirituality is not memorising the Koran or the Bible while hurting people in the name of Allah or Jesus or Buddha or oil. We are all chosen. Surely we have the capacity to transmute anger and fear into a masterpiece of joy.”
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