“They gave him the bread to bless, and as he began to break and hand to them,
their eyes were opened, and Cleopas recognized that their guest was the Master himself.
And when he said, ‘It is the Master —,’ [he] vanished from their sight.”
The Emmaus Brothers — by Terry Kruger
Try to think of it like this.
See yourself in a vast classroom. There are millions of seats, in fact, one for each person on the planet. There is a teacher at the head of the class and he is saying things like, “God is your Father,” and “man is your brother”; “Love one another.” “Love your enemies”; and, “You shall have eternal life.”
And then the teacher asks, raise your hand if you would accept my Father’s gift of eternal life. Not everyone hears the question; some are many miles away. Some tend to not even believe there ever was a teacher at all, because they cannot see him. Many others simply refuse to believe the whole idea that the world is a “vast school,” or that an invisible “God” created everything and everyone. Some are asking, “Who does he think he is?” Others say, “He wants you to believe in a big, imaginary sky-daddy.” A great many do not raise their hand. And those that did were constrained to try and explain what they had seen and heard, their personal experience— to those who had not seen.
Religion then, is your personal pursuit of divine values; truth, beauty, goodness. True “religion” is the experiencing of divinity in our consciousness; it is a profoundly deep and actual experience of spiritual communion with the spirit influences resident within the human mind. As far as such an experience is definable, it’s simply the experience of experiencing the reality of believing in God as the reality of such a purely personal experience.
But since personality is unique — no two persons are alike — it’s inevitable that no two human beings will similarly interpret the leadings and urges of the spirit of divinity which lives within their minds. Every human being defines religion in the terms of his or her own experiential interpretation of the divine impulses emanating from the God spirit that indwells him, therefore such an interpretation must be unique and wholly different from the religious philosophy of all others.
Turns out that’s a wonderful thing. Because when religionists mostly reduce their religion to the parroting of the religion of someone else— whether it is some approximation (church dogma) of the religion of Gandhi, or Muhammed, or Jesus, the Buddha, or Richard Dawkins— they’ve utterly surrendered the right to participate in the most thrilling and inspiring of all human experiences: their own personal quest for truth; the exhilaration of facing the perils of intellectual discovery; the determination to explore the realities of their own personal religious experience.
“Spirituality” is any person’s augmentation of their cumulative cosmic insight. Religion is living out those values. Above all, spirituality— living as if in the presence of God— enhances the ability to discover beauty in things; recognize truth in meanings; and discover goodness in values. There’s a few billion people who could use some enhanced ability to understand more of the truth, beauty, and goodness to be found in the world.
Right now the evolutionary religions of the world are operating on teachings that, by and large, are two-thousand years old. Until the world’s religions progress to a higher recognition of the realities of spiritual experience, a lot of people will continue to prefer the religions of authority; religions which require only intellectual assent— in contrast to the religion of the spirit— which requires active participation of mind and soul with the realities of progressive human experience.
All this grows out of the fact that religion isn’t just a “child of culture”; it is, and always has been, the property of the human race. It’s also important to remember that any one person’s perception of religion is still more or less subject to the bondage of ignorance, the slavery of superstition, as well as the very real deceptions of sophistication, and the various delusions of false philosophy. God, help us.
If you’re still looking for true religion, read The Urantia Book while you are still on Urantia.