How about a fresh approach to religion? What if we observed life as it truly is? What if we tried to see the truth of life without preconceived ideas about life, without the filter of our past conditioning and entrenched beliefs?

Is there an approach to life that plainly, logically, and clearly appeals to common sense? A philosophical, psychological approach that people can relate to? If such an approach existed, it surely would have a universal appeal. No dogma that separates itself from other religions by putting up idealistic roadblocks such as, "My Savior/Good Book/beliefs are the only true ones, and therefore your beliefs will send you to hell!" Nothing that controlling.

Universal appeal means being able to adapt certain logical principles of philosophy, psychology, and religion to any circumstance. Once we forgo logic, philosophy, psychology and universal religion, we end up with closed and narrow minded personal opinions based usually on nothing more than fallacious hearsay.

Yet we believe them because we have been influenced by various coercive methods of indoctrination, many times from childhood being conditioned to behave in lock step and induced to believe or do something by means of constant repetition and narrow experience, and overbearing exposure to hardened opinions and ideas.

This is especially prevalent in geographically isolated clans or groups, but diminishes when the individual is exposed to a more cosmopolitan and diverse environment. A world traveler is seldom a religious or racial bigot.

So the question is; is there an approach to life that avoids this closing in of the mind and narrow opinionating? If there is, how would it escape the typical pitfall of religion, which can be narrow mindedness?

If we look at ourselves as patients, and look at our approach to life as a cure, what should we consider first? The first consideration has to be whether or not we are sick! Even though we complain endlessly about life, we tend to blame our troubles on others and never ourselves. You know: THEY are sick and we are normal. But the fact is; our own illness and our denial of it is the basis of our discontent.

So a viable approach to life, like a good doctor, should ask if we have any symptoms, such as delusions, strong impulsive desires, conceit, hatred, bigotry, anger, depression, envy, gluttony, restlessness. In other words, is life, as we have experienced it so far, filled with discontent from many angles even though we prefer to believe otherwise? Are we ignoring or denying our symptoms just so we don't have to go to the doctor? Are we in a constant state of denial, hiding within an imaginary religious world completely constructed in our minds where we are the martyr just waiting to be saved?

If we admit that indeed life is filled with problems, then a responsible approach to life would ask the reason that our life is filled with so many problems. On the other hand, an irresponsible religion would say that we can do basically nothing to help ourselves - that we are hopeless sinners and must wait to die before we get any relief. But is this really true?

After suggesting the reason that we experience so many difficulties with life, a responsible approach to life, like a good doctor, would confidently point out that our troubles, just like a disease, can be cured. That's hopefulness, not defeatism.

Then again, like a good doctor, a responsible approach to life would prescribe a clear, concise, understandable prescription for living that would insure a cure, which in this case would be happiness, contentment, ease and confidence.

What if as part of this prescription, we were asked to observe life as it truly is? What if we tried to see the truth of life without stuffing our perceptions of life into our little boxes of preconceived ideas as a result of being brainwashed? What would be the results of that?

Would a sober look at life, an awake look without trying to explain it, make life better instead of more idealistic? Would it bring about a genuine security and contentment not based on fantasy or wishful thinking?

Genuineness seems to be the thing that is sorely missing in our lives now, therefore, would a wide awake mind have the capacity to really transcend this mundane existence and see for itself what lies beyond? Is there the possibility that this direct seeing, when deepened, is the only way for one to become truly religious - that is to come face to face with one's God in this very lifetime? The prophets understood this. Why are you not a prophet with that kind of understanding? Think about what your religious practice consists of. Maybe a change is in order.

Switching from a religion that isn't working for you isn't something unusual or new. A Pew Forum study released last year concluded that 53% in America no longer belong to the religion they were brought up in.

I would expect that number to increase as the clued-in millennial generation matures. That's when religion's feet will be held to the fire of disclosure and transparency, with all the spin and hype exposed for what they many times are; uninformed ignorance based on closed-minded fallacious arguments further based on nothing but hearsay.

That dog won't hunt no more in the open-minded information age. The intelligent kids don't want to be told what to do, they want to see and experience for themselves what is true, as well as determine for themselves what is hype.

And we should do no less if we are serious about solving our constant angst. So open up and let go, of everything. See what the results are. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 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.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.