I have a quote from Stanley Diamond, the world-famous anthropologist, “Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.” This is the way of the world, even in the religious community. My own religious experiences mirrors this definition of civilization.
In my twenties I happened to visiting an old retired friend named Mrs. Strong. She told me she had just started reading the Bible and was finding it very wonderful and refreshing. She had hardly ever read it her whole life, even though she was about 69 years old. I was amazed because I knew then that she was even more religious than I was. I was befuddled about this and asked her why it was suddenly so great. She said that she had never read it, that her church thought fit to best interpret it’s meaning. She was actually never encouraged to read it herself. This is a very famous church and congregation(which shall remain unnamed). I showed her some of my favorite passages and said that she should read it all the time.
Later I met some people in another congregation that were equally insistent that ONLY the bible was meaningful and purposeful. That all the answers were there and there alone. I don’t really believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. I shared the parts that we agreed on but didn’t press any issues to purposely challenge them. I did say though that some things can never be taught in a book, like swimming or dancing. They invited me to be a member but I couldn’t ever find that I would agree to their ideas. I found it to be too repressive for my tastes.
Again later, I met another religious order that espoused that their teacher was advanced enough that his insight alone should be the favored and preferred lead in my life. Would I like to have him as my teacher? I initially agreed but eventually we parted ways.
I think of Stanley Diamond’s quote often. Each group wanted my membership, to expand their world and to cull from mine. Each group or teacher wanted to limit my relationship with God by making their position supreme.
Sometimes this had made me angry and sad. I realize though that with reincarnation and karma I HAVE ONLY ACTUALLY EVER MET MYSELF. If these were my past ideals from past lives then I let it go. I will not seek unwarranted expansion and conquest anymore. I will not repress any more. Each person is free to pursue God in the manner that they see fit. I will help people because I love them. I will help people because I wish to be truly helpful.
I believe now though(my new ideal) that no intermediaries, books or teachers can interpret God or talk to God on your behalf BETTER THAN YOU. I’m convinced that no one can speak or listen to God for you, better that you. You alone hold the key to God.
Life is eternal, and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”