SPIRITUALITY BEYOND RELIGIONS 


John Martin Sahajananda 



I would like to begin this sharing with a statement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
“All the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion all together.” HIS HOLINESS DALAI LAMA.

This is to say that I am not the only one to propose this theme but there are many responsible persons in the world who think in the similar way. I also want to state that the spirituality that Jesus Christ proposed was the spirituality beyond religions.
We need to distinguish RELIGION from Religion. Religion is a belief system that creates a boundary and divides people in the name of religions. RELIGION is that which takes human consciousness beyond religions and brings to unity with God. In this sharing when I say ‘Religion’ it is in the sense of belief systems.

I would like to say that:

Spirituality Beyond Religions is not against any religion or any system of belief. It accepts all religions or systems of belief in the plan of God or Truth but considers them as belonging to the evolutionary process of human consciousness and thus not final. Our spiritual evolution can be described as a journey ‘from the unconscious unity to the conscious unity’. It is to become conscious of what is unconscious. Religions, as belief systems, belong to the stage of transition between the unconscious state and the conscious state. 

Spirituality beyond Religions does not advocate the abolition of religions but it transforms them into nests where people are born, protected, nourished and given security until they are ready to fly into the freedom of the infinite space. It transforms all religions as spiritual wombs, which conceive, protect, nourish and give security until the children have fully grown and give birth to them into the freedom of the infinite space.

Spirituality Beyond Religions opens the door from religions or the systems of belief to the discovery of our true nature or true self in which there is no necessity of any belief, any scripture or any external authority but people live by the inner light. It facilitates birds to leave the nest of religions and live in the infinite and boundless truth. Jesus Christ said, ‘the Sabbath is made for human beings and not human beings for the sake of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is symbol of a religion based on rules and regulations.

It is a way of life in which a person discovers unity with God, with one another and with the whole of creation and lives from that unity. This is the way of love.  This life is the way of life that prophets of the Old Testament promised that God would inaugurate in the future and that which Jesus Christ inaugurated for a humanity. Prophet Jeremiah describes this new life succinctly. 

Jeremiah 31.31-34

31.The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

32. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

33. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34.No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Jesus Christ described this way of the New Covenant with the statement: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life;( no one comes to the Father except through me’. )

In the first covenant a person will say that the external Law or religion is the way, the truth and the life but in the New Covenant a person will say ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. This New Covenant is not really a New Covenant but we can call it ‘eternal covenant’ written in the heart of every person at his or her birth. We are born without religion and we have the potential to grow beyond religion.

I describe Spirituality beyond Religions as ‘the Spirituality of Unfolding’. The nature of God is unfolding. Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. So also the nature of human beings is to unfold life. Unfolding is our real nature. It comes from the awakening to our true self or true nature, which is united with our Source or God, with one another and with the whole of creation. Unfolding is manifesting our life from love, unity, fullness, freedom, peace and inner rest. It is unfolding divine attributes like love and compassion in relationships. It is a life lived from the inner truth of which the religious truths are just reflections.

Spirituality ‘Beyond Religions’ is a way of living in which we transcend the way of becoming and discover the way of unfolding. The way of becoming comes from the emptiness of our being and the way of unfolding comes from the fullness of our being. The way of becoming comes from our ignorant self and the way of unfolding comes from our true self.
It is transcending the conditioned truths or relative truths and discovering the fullness of truth and living from it. The fullness of truth is the realization of the essential unity with the infinite being or timeless being (which we call God), with humanity and with the entire creation. It is transcending the truth written in the external books and discovering the truth written in the heart. It is walking on one’s own feet without depending on the external support. This consciousness is described in the New Testament as the Son of God or the Son of Man. There are certain truths that Spirituality beyond religions proposes:

1. The first is that there is only one Truth or One God or One Ultimate Reality, whatever word we might use to describe it. This one Truth is greater than creation, greater than human beings and Greater than religions. This is like the infinite space and it has no boundaries.

2. Creation is the manifestation of this one Truth.

3. Human consciousness is the reflection of the Divine Consciousness in the body and mind complex. It is like a ray of the Divine Sun present in everyone. This ray has the potential to travel back to it source and realize that it is one with the Sun. This body and mind belong to the process of evolution but the ray of light within the body does not belong to the process of evolution. It is timeless. It was there before the big bang began. This reflection of the ray of divine in the body and mind brings forth another entity which we call human soul.

4. When a human being is born, its consciousness is unconditioned. It is pure image and likeness of the Divine. It is in a state of original blessing but in a state of innocence. It is in a state of unconscious oneness with God. The nature of human consciousness is to unfold life.

5. Human consciousness has the natural desire to become conscious of its oneness with God. This desire manifests in the desire to become like God. Since it is in a state of innocence it projects its object outside of itself. It creates the gap between what it is and what it is not. It creates psychological time. It initiates the movement of becoming, which is the opposite to the movement of unfolding. This transition from unconscious unfolding to becoming is called fall of humanity. It is a necessary process: a Felix Culpa, a happy and necessary fault.

6. Religions or various belief systems are part of this process of becoming. They try to take people back to God. Belief systems are conditioned truths. Each belief system has its boundary. It has the need to protect its boundary and expand its numbers. Belief systems are like houses that people build within the infinite space. In every house there is space. This space is the conditioned truth. If this conditioned Truth thinks that it is the absolute truth and denies truth outside its boundary then it tries to impose its truth on others. This can become a source of conflict and violence.

7. Human beings have the potential to transcend the conditioned truths and discover the unconditioned truth and live from there. In the conditioned truths we have the movement of becoming and in the unconditioned truth we have the movement of unfolding. It is rising from our fallen state into our original state.

8. To live according to the conditioned truths is to walk on the established paths. It is to live a mechanical life. It is allowing someone in live in our house who control us or guide us. The present is at the service of the past. It is not free, it is not original, and it is not creative.

9. To live from the infinite truth is like walking on water or flying in the sky. When someone walks on water this person does not enter into the traces left by others and does not leave traces for others to follow. He or she keeps the water pure. When a bird flies in the sky its does not enter into the traces left by others and does not leave the traces for others. It keeps the sky uncontaminated. It means that everyone lives an original life and helps others to live an original life.

10. We need to distinguish between RELIGION and Religion. To be in a religion is to live according to a belief system. It is the life of becoming. To be in a RELIGION is to live the life of unfolding. It is going beyond Religions. To go beyond religions is to go beyond the spirituality of becoming, it is to live the spirituality of unfolding, it is to go from the conditioned truths to the unconditioned truth, it is to go from collective consciousness to universal consciousness.

11. Those who live in the universal consciousness do not need a scripture, do not need a religion, and do not need an external authority. They will declare: I am the way, the truth and life.

In the Spirituality according to a religion: first comes a religion, second comes God as understood by that religion and third come human beings who have to worship and follow God according to that religion.

In the Spirituality beyond religions: First comes God who is greater than religions and human beings; second come human beings, as the image and likeness of God, who are greater than religions and third come  religions which are meant to be at the service of human beings and not human beings at the service of religions.( the Sabbath is made for human beings and not human beings for the sake of the Sabbath).

Spirituality beyond religion is a transition:

From becoming to unfolding

From Law to Love

From beliefs to no belief

From divisions to unity

From the conditioned free will to Real free will

From the God of authority to the God of freedom

From the God of history to the God of eternity

From the God of words to the God of silence

From the external scripture to the scripture written in the heart

From psychological time to timelessness

From the life of barrenness to the life of fruitfulness

From violence to peace

From boundaries to without boundaries

From external way to the inner way

From the land of paths to the pathless land,

From journeying in a boat to walking on the water

From relative truths to fullness of Truth

From mechanical imitation to creative manifestation

From inner emptiness to inner fullness

From collective consciousness to universal consciousness

From spiritual hierarchy to universal brotherhood

From loyalty and dis-loyalty to beyond loyalty and disloyalty

From the life of reward and punishment to the life of freedom

From salvation after death to salvation now

From the life of dreaming to the life of awakening

From guilt and fear to inner freedom and joy

From the security which is death to the insecurity which is life

From the burden of knowledge to the simplicity of wisdom

From our desire to God’s desire

From inner suffering to inner happiness

From striving to inner rest

From life and death to Deathlessness

From future expectations to living in the present

From the relative good and relative evil to Absolute Good that has no Evil

From fragmented life to the life of wholeness

From conflict to harmony

From competition to cooperation

From settled life to a life of Pilgrimage

From ‘I ‘ to 'We'

From ‘my life’ to ‘God’s life’

From ‘my actions’ to ‘God’s actions’

From secular life to sacred life

From ordinary actions to sacred rituals

From ego to egolessness

From the relationship of business to the relationships of sacred sharing

From ‘religion is the way, the truth and the life’ to ‘God is the way, the truth and the life’

From renouncing the world to the joyful manifestation of God’s life in the world, in relationships.

 

 
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