The Catholic Church is losing folks. A recent survey reveals that 6 out of 10 Catholics feel that they are out of touch with Catholic views. Much of this might result from the pedophile cases and views on contraception and illegal immigration, but I have a hunch that this is merely the course of events that are unfolding regarding organized religion in general all over the planet.
Kids are certainly leaving the folds in all religions worldwide; Eastern and Western. Christianity in Europe is on its last legs, and even in Hindu and Buddhist countries, business and commerce are infringing upon the traditional religious values and ceremonies that have persisted for thousands of years.
So what's going on? What is happening to our religious faith? Could it be that a new consciousness is arising that is not necessarily secular, but reflects an awareness of things that organized religion has never touched because it is fearful? Could this new awareness of things be dangerous to organized religion's survival because it promotes the liberty to enquire freely into this strange phenomenon called life?
Is the old consciousness really hiding behind religion? This is a very important question, because when we hide behind anything, we can't see over the top; all we can see are the walls of that in which we are hiding. Hiding behind something means that we are not aware of what's happening.
If our entire identity is predicated on what we believe, then because there are 4,000 different religions in the world, somebody must necessarily be hiding behind something that is untrue. Since every religion claims to be the one and only truth, they must all be false (except for that one religion that you, the reader, belong to!) Which means that everyone in the world is hiding behind a false religion, except you!
So what would you recommend to these other religions to wake them up, other than, of course, insisting that they join your religion . . . which they refuse to do? Let's say, for sake of discussion, that you can't recruit them to your particular religion, and can only wake them up in some other way.
Considering that they are hiding so desperately that they could never be persuaded to see their belief as a fairytale, how would you proceed? How would you wake people up? By telling them that they are asleep and hiding, which of course will only make them angrier?
Who wants to hear that they are asleep at the switch, even though 3,999 of the religions logically are asleep at the switch, because not everyone is right? Making people angry, of course, doesn't seem to be compassionate, but if it does wake them up in the long run, perhaps it is kindhearted. And perhaps encouraging people to hide behind their religions isn't.
So how do you, the reader, who is certain that your religion is true, wake up these other 3,999 disbelievers without proselytizing your own faith? If you say, "My religion is true and yours is false," that just doesn't cut it with most folks! So how can we cleverly wake all these people up?
If we don't wake them up, then we can never have a world of peace, because each of the 4,000 religions set themselves apart from all of the other 4,000 religions by hiding behind their faiths, and therefore religion, by its very nature, becomes contentious. This isn't good, because it causes all kinds of separation and violence. Just look at humankind's history.
So how can we wake people up to the damage that they are doing to themselves, and to the rest of the world, by hiding behind their false religions. This is very difficult, simply because since the reader knows that his or her religion is true, how can he or she convince other that theirs is false?
It's a good question to ask oneself.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit www.AYearToEnlightenment.com