History reveals, in any group, society or country, power always tends to be concentrated in the hands of a small minority who make every effort to keep it that way. But to avoid an uprising by the majority they have to be clever on how they go about it.
The institutions of legislators, government, judiciary, army, business, educators and organised religion are programmed to work in concert to keep the majority under the control of this small minority.
Control starts with the idea of an all knowing, omnipotent God, in whose name there is a religion which is delivered to ordinary people, by a priestly class in His name.
Even if there is no God, we humans always create one, for we cannot live without worship to some perceived higher or superior being.
Yes, many of us may say, 'I do not believe in God', but in reality we all do.
Some worship modern gods, the rich and famous are often worshipped, then there are also sports stars and teams, actors, intellectuals, scientists, artists, models and beautiful looking people, we are always worshiping some being or the other. Their way of life, and manner become the mantra of the followers of that god or gods.
While modern gods only look to monetise our devotion and worship, organised religion seeks to capture our soul and mind and use powerful emotions to tap into our resources, and compel us to behave as commanded by the priests.
While it is relatively easy to change modern gods and 'religions' it is much more difficult to escape organised religion, which operate in a subtle manner, at a very deep subconscious level.
Many aspects of organised religion are myths, fantasies, that defy credibility, but we believe anyway.
Religious authorities impose highly impractical and unnatural behavioural requirements, and we try to conform. The constant bribery of afterlife rewards and the fear of severe punishments in this life and the thereafter for non compliance, frustratingly yokes the individual to organised religion.
Organised religion is a kind of mass hysteria and anyone not singing the song, dancing to the tune, nor obeying the commands of the priests and clerics is immediately condemned, punished and worse boycotted and ostracised from society.
Each individual actually lands up following the religion only in name and complying only with those aggressive demands upon the individual that organised religion and society makes upon them.
So each individual in varying degrees begins to lead a dual life, one fake one for the public and one private one for themselves. Each one choosing what they like when they like, interpreting religion as it suits their convenience.
When a group of individuals collectively decide that their current version of organised religion does not work for them they form another group. Hence religions keep on splintering into smaller and smaller sub groups.
We have natural instincts, needs and necessities which run counter to many of religion's demands.
Individuals feel guilty and sinful when they find themselves in conflict between their nature and the religious instructions they receive.
Then we are influenced by other forces and elements that we come in contact with and we adopt some of the features good and bad of other religions and cultures and finally we have our own individual religion. These also impose a burden of guilt on the individual.
Is religion good or bad?
Religion is necessary if one seeks to merge back into the ocean from which we have emerged.
Religion is that unique pathway that each individual has to identify and travel upon.
Organised religion promises a straightforward path to an imaginary heaven or hell, usually by people we find difficult to trust or believe. The path is in reality a complex maze with many pitfalls and traps. It threatens severe punishment for even looking at, thinking about, discussing with anyone else who is not from the hordes traversing the same designated path.
No wonder organised religion is in serious decline across the world. It is however growing amongst only the world' most desperate, poor, tormented people who are seeking any way out of their misery.
Individual religion is our own chosen pathway which may be confusing and unclear at times. However in the genuine pursuit of the truth, we will eventually blend with the ocean from which we have emerged.
It is useful to remember that religions both individual and organised have over centuries and millennia have discovered and adopted many good things that we can adopt for our own individual seeking. We can choose, mix and match these features as we please. Most of us do it anyway, but rather unconsciously and sometimes even consciously.
It is not important the path we choose, for existence offers us infinite pathways to reach the Divine. We just have to ask ourselves 'Am I making progress on the chosen path?' If the answer is yes then that is good, if no then we can always change paths and explore anew. That is why I say, 'there are billions of religions'.
The destination can only be attained by beginning and undertaking the journey, not just merely squatting on a path claiming it to be exclusively his or hers. Everyone possesses the ability to choose his or her own path.The question is, 'Do we possess the courage to tread upon any of them?
If we lack the courage then we are condemned to love without meaning. If we choose and proceed on our own path, then life will be full of meaning and in the sunset of our earthly existence we would readily and happily embrace death.