Is the present day religious teaching adequate for human spirits?
Each individual would have to answer this question for himself or herself but what is explored here is: what should be the characteristics of a religious or spiritual teaching that must necessarily show human beings the way back to God?
In exploring this question all we need do is cast our minds back to what happened two thousand years ago when Jesus, the Son of God walked on this earth. The characteristics of His Teaching as compared to that which existed should show us the way and give us an idea of the kind of spiritual teaching we should be on the look out for.
The established religion at that time was based on the time honoured Mosaic teaching based on the Ten Commandments. These Commandments were simple enough and easy enough to understand when Moses bequeath it to the Israelites. Over centuries, however, the teaching gradually came under the control and influence of those who had other aims than what the original Mosaic teachings had intended.
Instead of the simplicity of the Mosaic teaching that showed exactly what human beings needed to do to aspire to the spirituality that was pleasing to God, there arose books upon books of interpretations of these simple Laws which confused the common man because they could no longer understand the laws.
The consequence of this was that a class of interpreters of the laws as represented historically as Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes was created. These and the priestly class then came to make themselves indispensable as interpreters of the laws of Moses and in fact as the only ones capable of interpreting these laws. They were therefore widely acknowledged by the general populace as the only ones capable of interpreting the laws.
With this acknowledgement came both religious and earthly power. They exerted this earthly power through their religious influence. They were then free to add whatever they wanted to the Mosaic laws and they could tell the gullible people that they were acting as representatives of God without anyone able to question this since they were now the acknowledged leaders of the religion and as such apparently acted as mediums to God.
All this opened the floodgates to all kinds of evil. Conceit, arrogance and vanity flourished amongst the priestly class since they thought that they could now act with impunity and that God Himself sanctioned every single one of their actions. And why not? After all they were God’s representatives they thought. They could do no wrong. Yoke upon yoke of suffering were imposed on the children of Israel. The ultimate aim of the priests which had always been earthly influence, wealth and expansion had been realised. They could tax the people as they wished, after all it was God’s Will. “If the people could just observe the Sabbath, then the Messiah would appear immediately” was the constant refrain. “If only the people could sacrifice more” were the words that rang through Israel in those days.
The practice of the religion of Israel became so rigid that nothing whatsoever was left of the great teaching of Moses and the Commandments of God. Instead of being taught to adhere to the Commandments, Israelites were being taught externals which had nothing to do with the spirituality that Moses wanted. It was more important to wash your hands ten times a day than to show friendliness and kindness to a suffering neighbour. If that suffering neighbour happened to be a gentile then he had better be ready to be relentlessly punished for it. All this were externals that were never given in the Commandments but somehow found their way into the religious writings and psyche of the Israelites.
To be a practising Jew then became a burden to the people instead of joy. A good percentage of the earnings went to the Temple and that was mandated. Discontent and anger arose among the common men who felt that some of these practices could not be right but were too powerless to do anything about it. It is obvious that the religious teaching then brought nothing but discontent and sadness among the populace.
The worship of God which naturally should have brought joy into the hearts of people only brought sorrow and hardship. This was not God’s making but the making of those who called themselves His servants. They never pointed the way to God but pointed the way only to themselves. Their religion and the way it was practiced, it can be safely said, did not liberate human beings and did not point the way to the Luminous Heights. The people felt oppressed.
Then suddenly came Jesus. The people breathed a sigh of relief. They discovered that serving God had nothing to do with servility and suffering. They had joy in their hearts and they realised that it was not that difficult and that they were free. Freer than they had ever been. They found that what was more important for them to do to achieve Salvation was just to be themselves in the way they give joy and help to their neighbours; in following their God-given conscience, something that can never be found in any written letter of religious law.
The priests fought a furious battle against the Son of God realising that their influence and authority thereby were being weakened. In the end they were able to use the cunning and the earthly power which laid in their hands to crucify Him.
Great parallels can be drawn from this to what is happening today everywhere. Again as usual organised religions have been formed. Again as always we have yielded our spiritual freedoms to a few religious interpreters who now wield enormous influence. Again as always, the vitality which was to be found in the true Words of Jesus have been dulled and externals which were never the intentions of Jesus Himself have been added. Again the freedom which was to be found in the Words of Jesus have been replaced but yokes, heavy burdens and suffering. Again the joy which was always to be found when examining the true Words of Jesus have been replaced by sadness and sorrow.
Whether what we are told is actually adequate for our spirits and whether the knowledge these religious organisations impart is actually enough to see us back to the Luminous Heights as fully conscious human spirits is left for each individual to decide solely for himself or herself. It is imperative that each individual draw parallels and examine every spiritual teaching that they have decided to follow to see whether this teaching actually answers all the relevant questions of human existence. Where people are told to just accept interpretations blindly, there it is better to move on and continue searching. No one can search in vain where spiritual matters are concerned. One day he will find the true teaching.