On Religion

In olden times there were generals and heroes who were given the epithet of “the Hammer”.  Some grow livid at the mention of this name since the hammer was directed against them.  This is our world:  generals and heroes struggle, fight, kill, and wallow in the mud of time; the universe does not notice.  But I digress. 

I present to you this point:  do not make a hammer of your religion.

When you put on your Friday robes, hide your ego but keep your modesty exposed.  Do not strangle your apparently less pious companion with your prayer scarf.

And you might carry your holy book close to your heart, and thump it for good measure; but when you meet your less reciteful companion, do not throw the book at him.

And though you might spend the tenebrities of the night in prayer, do not stop your brother’s ears with thornlike words of accusation.

Even as you refuse to adorn your head with a crown of thorns for the sake your religion, beware of forcing the crown of thorns on your brother’s head.

Beware of striking your brother on the head with the hammer of religion, in order to drive the leaden bolt into his forehead, like a sacrificial monkey being prepared for the fat man’s feast.

And you seek to behead your insulter for one absurd word that has come out of his mouth?  Or even for a whole book that has come out of his pen?  You call him an abomination, yet what are you if you are so quick to anger and retribution?  Are you so light and empty that you instantly strike down all whom you suspect of offence?  Do you not already offend yourselves when you curse brother and throw your offal at his doorstep?

Truly, on the your steep climb towards humanity, self-control was your ally.  It is only the wild beast that attacks at the least provacation, or at no provacation at all.  Would you like to be a volcano, that destroys the whole town because it wakes in a bad mood?  And even babes and old women will be cast in stone, and not be spared.

And how did it come about that your internal explosion has become an external explosion?  How comes it that your frightful variance with yourself has destroyed your squares and marketplaces?  I tremble in terror before your values.  Those who pray at the foreign temple deserve respect; and yet you would tear down even your own temple.  And how can you in good conscience feed on the limbs of your brothers and sisters, and rejoice in your ritual blood-bath?  Before I saw these broken limbs I had no idea that lions could turn into millipedes.

Have you the arrogance and blindness of ego to presume that your prayers make you heard to God?  Or that your pure white robes signify purity of heart?  Would you wield your religion as a cudgel to strike in your brother chest?  Those who are pure of heart do not cast aspersions on the good intentions of others nor do they need to rectify others before they rectify themselves.

I speak one word to the apparently pious:  have you understood your religion?  Your mother’s religion fits you as well as your mother tongue.  But while the words of your language are immediately comprehensible, what can you say about your religion?  I have found that many of the apparently pious have a hell full of demons in their heart, and have found many temple-goers who are not worthy to stand even in the shade of temple.

Woe to those who mistake ritual for true religion, for they are permanently waylaid and have barred themselves from the way to God.  Understand this, my brothers:  God is not literally in the temple nor is he in the utterance of your prayers.  And even though I fear to blind you with stock phrases, I would go on to say:  God is not even the heart.

Rather, I would say:  God is nowhere.  And when you have grasped this, you will know God.


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