According to anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just, "Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs. Charismatic individuals have emerged at many times and places in the world. It seems that the key to long-term success – and many movements come and go with little long-term effect – has relatively little to do with the prophets, who appear with surprising regularity, but more to do with the development of a group of supporters who are able to institutionalize the movement."
If the idea of being religious is intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. You would think it would be a constant evolving journey of exploration in our changing perception of life, and the universe around us.
I think these prophets, these seers, visionaries filled with redemptive imagination that saw beyond the windows of the religions of their day would be filled with sadness that we have only followed their journey to the point of closing the windows again. To get to the place where you construct a sytsem of belief, rules, dogma, doctrine and rituals, is to end the journey of exploration. It is now nothing but maps, and road side markers...nothing more than a tour down memory lane. People eventual grow weary of the same road trip, where you arrive back home repeating the same story over and over again.
Ironically, it's kind of sad when we say," all the religions ", because in a sense we've gone astray, because really there is only one kind of religioness. Just as in science is one, the scientific approach is one, so is religion, so is the religious approach.
Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu they all belong to one kind of religioness. Of course they all speak different langauges...that is another matter. They are bound to speak different languages. Lao Tzu will speak chinese, Jesus will speak Aramaic, Buddha will speak in Pali and of course they will use the idiom of their day. But that is the difference of expression. And one should not be decieved by expressions, one should not be decieved by words, because religion has nothing to do with words. Maybe that's why Jesus didn't hire a scribe to record his every word. Maybe its because we've turned our words into the bricks of a fortified wall that we can not see. It covers our eyes, and hinders our insight. Religion at its deepest meaning is a wordless experience.
The problem with religion today is it creates theology. It's not really religion justa faint carbon copy of it. But, all churches are based on it. When a Buddha exists in the world, or a Mohammed, or a Krishna, or a Christ then pundits, scholars, and learned people, intellectually cleverand cunning people, gather together around them. They start working hard: "What does Jesus mean?" They start creating a theology, a creed, a dogma, a church. They are successful people because they are very logical people.They cannot give you God, they cannot give you truth, but they give you great organizations.
Truth is profoundly like beauty. Beauty is not matter and beauty doesn't belong to parts. Once you dissect a flower, once the wholeness of the flower is gone, beauty is also gone. beauty belongs to the whole, it is the grace that comes to the whole. It is more than the sum.
God is the greatest totality, "all things together." God is not a person. God is a presence, the presence when the total is functioning in great harmony...the trees and the birds and the earth and the stars and the moon and sun and the rivers and ocean...every speck of the universe. That togetherness is God. If you dissect you'll never find God. Dissect the world into who's who you won't find the presence that is God. To dissect religion into Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism or Hare Krishna you will not find God.
Maybe religion is the journey into the bigger whole, the totality of "all things together." It's only in this that maybe we find meaning.
That's where I'm at, this profound place where I can't really describe "God" in words. That's why God is beyond my imagination. God is the biggest conceivable whole, and without grasping and trying understand "all things together" we will not attain a higher understanding, and meaning. God is not a person, we have to move beyond that...the image of God looks like me, and not them. God is not sitting static somewhere at a cosmic postal code. Maybe, we come to the realization God is the total presence of existence, the being...as what John Shelby Spong likes to call the ground of all being.
And if there is an energy that holds "all things together", it is love. Maybe love is the purest possibility of God. Because it is the subtlest, and the most infinite force of unity in the universe.
The most profound religious experience is God is love. Profoundly, the deepest experience of love is a religious experience. And here's the irony, forget God, love will do. But never forget Love, because God alone won't do. If anything, this far along the corridor of history we can conclude just God isn't working.
Maybe the only hope for the future is embracing "all things together", in love...the purity of one religion beyond dissection, embracing the beauty of the whole. Beyond words, maybe this is the closest we get to the truth.