Religion – noun – belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power, or powers, considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny.
The three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are all based on faith in God (monotheism, the belief that only one God exists). In all three religions the doctrine of creation teaches that all things are distinct and separate from God and that God alone is their efficient cause.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, in his 18th century work, The Way of God, explains, “Every Jew must believe and know that there exists a First Being, without beginning or end, who brought all things into existence and continues to sustain them. This Being is God.”
Abraham is acknowledged as the “Father” of all three (Abrahamic) religions, with Christianity growing out of Judaism, while Islam developed later and owes aspects of its character to both Judaism and Christianity. The theology of both Christianity and Islam, to a greater or lesser extent, embraces important figures whom Jews claim as their own, such as Moses, revered as a prophet by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
To Christians, God gives a revelation of Himself through the flesh, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, but reserves worship for the divine nature of Jesus only, not the human nature of Jesus. To make accounts of His life acceptable, “magical” qualities are then attributed to Jesus in the form of an immaculate birth and the rising of the body after death.
All of this is a very clear instruction to adherents that the physical human body can never be considered Divine.
The earliest accounts of Jesus’ teachings are The Gospels of Mark, Luke, Mathew and John, all written 40 to 70 years after Jesus’ physical death. Here, in the beginnings of the New Testament, the original intent of Jesus’ allegorical parables is already being adapted by the early Gospel writers to suit their intended audience. The Gospel of Mark was written for a Christian community in Rome and the Gospel of Matthew, for a community in Antioch in Syria. To this day, there has not been an agreed version of the New Testament, with literally hundreds of contested versions published over the last two thousand years.
Upon this foundation the principal activity within Christianity becomes one of self-protective dogma-tic argument, creating a congregation of self protective individual adherents. And, along with this ongoing argument within Christianity, a religion that is directly instructed to “multiply, fill the earth and subdue it,” comes the need then to protect that which it subdues.
At the first Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D. at Nicaea, Christianity, by now completely divorced from any consideration of Wisdom or Spiritual Responsibility, which is regarded as heresy and forcibly denied, became the official religion of the Roman Empire. At this point, the political state becomes the religious master, as such, and Christianity via the New Testament becomes a method of control and suppression, culminating in the horrors of the Inquisition.
Male dominance, enshrined in the Christian church’s doctrinal culture, (and effectively practiced in Judaism and Islam), is succinctly described by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 14:34) where he declares: “Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.”
To this day the Catholic Church has not moved from this doctrine. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, on the internet site New Advent, the description of “the woman question” precedes a lengthy discussion on the role of woman in Christian society. It essentially directs women toward the “natural” role of mother within a sanctified marriage or, to take up voluntary religious virginity “in order to serve God with undivided mind.”
In contrast to the emphasis in Judaism, Christianity and Islam on the total transcendence of God, that is, a God that is above, other than, and distinct from all he has made, pantheism, (pan=all; theos=god) holds the belief that one absolute reality exists everywhere and in everything. Pantheistic thought holds a more bodily positive point of view than any of the monotheistic religions, all of which are wholly bodily negative. It is the basic world-view of the New Age movement and underpins the philosophies of Spinoza and Hegel. Historically, pantheism has occurred more often in the East, for example in Hinduism, perhaps the oldest existing religion. Here, the earliest evidence of pantheism is found in the Vedas of Brahmanism dating back to 1000 B.C. It is also associated with the ancient Egyptian religion, where Ra, Isis and Osiris are identified with all existence.
For thousands of years of human history, the creation was the Creator, the womb of the goddess, the source of our being. Creation, viewed as the Earth Mother, gave birth to her children.
Indigenous pantheistic religions that view humans as part of a whole, neither more nor less important than the animals and plants existing in the environment, viewed Earth as a living, breathing entity. Earth is the very body of the divine, so the sacred becomes feminine, the goddess, from whose womb all life springs, a natural and supportive environment for the Instruction and Living of Wisdom.
But once humans, especially Westerners (by their own mental construct) become the centre and culminating fact of creation (anthropocentrism), the psychology of religious thought immediately changes. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, the entry for pantheism is headed, “The false theory according to which God and the world are one.”
So, from being a living framework for the very existence of the balance of nature, Earth now becomes regarded as a smorgasbord of natural resources put here for human consumption and exploitation. Humans then live “on” Earth rather than “in” it.
The first chapter of the Jewish/Christian Bible reassures and instructs: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the ground. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” (Gen. 1:28, 29)
It is probably not a coincidence that once this view became scriptural dogma, and was introduced into ‘indigenous’ cultures, conditions soon changed. Now the masculine-patriarchal “moral” religious system replaces the existing “immoral” feminine-matriarchal system.
While the pantheistic all-enveloping point of view of manifest existence holds an obvious and understandable attraction for the New Age movement, it would be a mistake for it to be in any way regarded as some idealistic belief superior to monotheism. Both are “merely” humanly constructed religious beliefs, subject, as all beliefs are, to philosophical argument and change, relative to an altered physical, political and/or emotional condition.
This contrasts completely to the once known, and unchangeable, Realisation of, and Identification with, The Divine Conscious All-enveloping Life Force. The instruction and transmission of which has always, and only, been the True Intent and Work of all Living Spiritual Masters.