Mormons came to the door last week. Today it was Jehovah Witnesses. All pleasant people but ain’t nobody got time for that, folks.
Listen: I get it. Most people feel like they need some kind of organized religion to wrap their minds and hearts around the impossibly huge idea/feeling/presence of God/Universe. An organized religion, indeed, ORGANIZES all of those huge ideas/feelings and THAT presence into beautiful poetry, song, services, sermons, rituals and events that keep God/Universe close to us in a way that we can handle – in a way that doesn’t make our hearts explode or our eyes catch on fire. I get it.
But, SADLY, I also get that organized religion perpetuates THE single most evil idea in our Universe: the feeling/thought that one person is better than another. In fact, when you come to my door and tell me that I should be part of your shiny, awesome religion because otherwise I’m going to spend eternity in hell… um… ya, you are saying to me, “I am better than you.” Not only are you saying you are better than me but you are also saying your children are better than my children, your mothers are better than my mother, your families are better than my family, and so on. I believe this is the single most evil thought in the world because it is the beginning of all other evil. If you’re better than me, I am not as valuable as you are, I don’t deserve as much from this life as you do, my pain is somehow less important than yours. Hurting me is justifiable. Ignoring me or abandoning me when I’m sick or hurting is justifiable. War against me – and all of my people -- is justifiable. Genocide is justifiable. And, friends, this can’t be true. This is not true. It is the least true thing in the world.
I know Ayn Rand and all of her disciples would adamantly disagree, but people are equal. All people everywhere are equal.
I may have mentioned before that I knew a yogini once who claimed to cultivate an addiction to mountain dew just so she could empathize with people who had flaws.
I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.
… Because… otherwise… she was…. What…. Perfect?
THIS is the offensiveness of organized religion – and yes, I would ABSOLUTELY include yoga in the realm of organized religion because of the way SOME people practice it as a method of justifiably putting themselves above others. That particular yogini was not the first and certainly not the last I’ll ever meet that acted as though their “practice” gave them a direct line to The Light (no matter how many bullshit “namastes” they uttered) – and, according to them, ALL any of us have to do to have that direct line as well is do EXACTLY what they do. Sound familiar? It’s fanatic. It’s religious fanaticism.
No one is perfect. No one is perfect. No one is perfect. We are all flawed. And yet, all of us have value. All of us have value. All of us have value. We ALL deserve love and respect and equality.
For several years, I attended a UU church. When I am pushed, I do have to admit that my views toward the Great Ineffable, most closely align with that of UU’s seven principles SO if I was able to fully embrace an organized religion, THAT would be the one – because it’s the least like an organized religion in the way that I’m describing above. Everyone has their own right to seek their own truth. And yet, it’s still a building, there are still humans running everything, and they still tell me when to sit and stand and how to pray and what to do – and if I don’t do those things the way they want me to, I’m not one of them. UU is very much LEAST like this – BUT even a disorganized religion HAS TO HAVE ORGANIZATION. I do not fault them for this. I just think, it’s very easy in our culture to tend toward the fanaticism and mental illness of superiority. If I’m the one who tells you when to sit and stand and how to pray and what to do I have some power that MUST mean that I’m better than you.
And, it’s hard to be the weirdo. I LOVE Episcopalian and Catholic church services because when I attend them, I feel very close to my mother. It’s nostalgic for me. And it is comfortable and sweet. When I started experimenting with attending a Quaker church, and then later UU churches, it felt HELLA WEIRD. And when I meditate on the beach or snuggle with my daughter all morning or go for a hike to be close to that SOMETHING about the Universe that I often, in my day-to-day, avoid or blow right past – it doesn’t feel “normal.” It feels like I should be doing something else. I feel weird. And the way I “worship” (though I would not call it that) IS weird when considering the norm of organized religion. It’s hard to be that weirdo – because the weirdo – more than anyone – is made to feel less-than within a culture that worships (and that word is quite fitting here) conformity, and power, and people who behave as though they are superior to others. It is easier to just DO organized religion – to NOT be weird and question it.
Because ultimately, the way that MOST people do organized religion (the way that makes them feel like their religion, their people, their church makes them BETTER than others) is just the easy way out. You don’t actually have to develop your thoughts, feelings, relationship with God/Universe/Light/Ineffable. You just do what those higher-ups in that organization tell you to do and it will automatically be there for you. Easy-Peasy. Just follow all the rules, baby. And, honestly, I get that. That’s cool. There are many things for which I prefer the easy way out. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your god in an easily digestible package. But there’s really nothing wrong – at all – with the way I’m doing things either. I am equal to you. You are not better than me. You are not worse than me. I am as valuable as you are. You are as valuable as I am. If we could all just live in THAT knowledge, there would be more peace and love – and much less bullshit -- in the world.
Know that you are equal, Teamies – not better, not worse – just equal. And be unapologetic about your equality.
Namaste (and I really mean it),