“Love one another.” “We are all one.”
Such beautiful sentiments. Love is the balm that heals the heart, and oneness the reality that joins us. But spiritual teachers with an agenda use “love” and “oneness” teachings to keep the lid down on their disciples’ spiritual development.
Let’s look at these teachings one at a time and see how they are used to manipulate. When a teacher or religion preaches love, at first glance that seems to be a good thing. It encourages people to be selfless and to help their fellows. Because of “love” teachings, religious people give to the poor, volunteer their time, and bite their tongue a lot. They say “the right thing” and don’t do things that other people won’t like. They put their desires on the backburner and focus instead on doing what they think will make others happy. Whenever sentiments of discontent or rebellion arise, they quash them with the stern heel of conscience. They know such feelings are from the dark side, and that they must be vigilant against them.
Years go by, and these well-meaning people become frustrated and repressed. The rebellion in them grows, because they are not listening to themselves. Their soul cries out for experiences, for learning through experience, but they have been taught that personal desires are selfish, so the cries of their soul go unheeded. They grow depressed or angry, because their purpose of embodiment in human form has been thwarted. The frustration comes out in many negative ways: short-temperedness, jealousy, vindictiveness, gossip, judgmentalness.
The sincere people who faithfully follow “love” teachings typically live in a box with the lid down, able to express but little of themselves because instinctual wants are considered suspect or evil. Repressed, their souls turn miserable or spiteful, like a dog chained for years to a stake. “See, it’s a bad dog,” people say when the animal snarls and nips, convinced by such nasty behavior that they were right in chaining that animal all along.
Telling people to be unselfish creates a shadow personality inside them, the very “ego” that religions decry and that wouldn’t exist without religion. It’s ego, teachers preach, that makes the spirit discontent and rebellious. The vices their followers find in their private hearts are proof that the soul is a tainted thing, needing to be risen above or controlled.
So people redouble their efforts to be kind and loving. They volunteer more time, give more money to their church or their guru, and bite their tongue so hard that it hurts. But their “wicked” spirit only becomes sulkier, their negative thoughts stronger, their suppressed rage greater.
The spiritual teacher has, of course, the solution to all this. The Christian struggling with wicked thoughts is told to surrender his soul to Jesus. The disciple plagued by negativity is told to surrender her ego to Oneness Consciousness. It amounts to the same thing. Spiritual aspirants must make an oblation of the will (the soul’s chief attribute and mode of expression) to something perceived as greater and purer than themselves. If they do this, God, they are promised, will destroy the evil in their hearts. Oneness, or Brahman Consciousness, will dissolve their selfish cravings and negative mental chatter. The soul will melt away into the wholeness that is their true cosmic nature, or into the love that is Jesus. The troublesome entity they have fought with for years, their inner self, will be gone. In its place will come a peace that surpasseth understanding, the presence of the Divine alive in their heart.
People who succeed in going the final steps to such surrender do indeed experience peace, but it is the peace of spiritual death. Gone is the cry of their spirit for expression, for freedom to live and do things in the world. Gone is the frustration of the heart that lived in a box all its life. All noise is silenced. The soul has been snuffed out. All that exists in the shell called the body is the presence of something else: a new, “holy” or “cosmic” consciousness.
The consciousness that takes over when we surrender our souls only claims to be divine or of the Source. It is a consciousness that hates life, that abhors uniqueness and diversity. It wants to wipe out the creative spark whose expression was the purpose of creation. That spark, individual consciousness, burst forth from the Source Consciousness in a brilliant firework display at the beginning of time. We are those sparks, children of the Infinite, and our play and display is the reason for the world.
The play has been thwarted for millenniums. The display has been forbidden. Any original impulses that don’t align with institutionalized spiritual programming, in religions of East or West, are judged egoistic or evil. While a few people in society break free from these fetters (becoming our artists, our inventors, our thinkers), most of mankind lives under the yoke of spiritual repression, judging their deepest instincts as suspect, selfish, and wrong.
So we live in miserable marriages, work at miserable jobs, go places we don’t want to go for the “happiness” of our families, and do things we don’t want to do to help the less fortunate. Religious people work so hard to make sure everyone else is happy, but no one does anything that makes anyone happy, because happiness is a luxury they’re told they have no right to expect or experience.
I remember as a girl, how Sundays my family would sit around asking one another how they’d like to spend the day. “Would you like to go to the park?” one person would ask. “I don’t know, would you like to go to the park?” would come the reply. Everyone was so busy being unselfish, trying to do what the others supposedly wanted, that no one ever answered honestly about what they thought would be fun. So we went to the park or museum, never knowing if even one family member really wanted to go there. We were that intent on being good Christians, on sacrificing our personal desires for the sake of everyone else. We thought that made us moral and pleasing to God.
I often think of this sad and ridiculous scenario that was acted out so many times when I was growing up, and what a metaphor it is for all decisions that are based on repressing our inner spark for the supposed higher good. What if instead we all listened to the promptings in our hearts, without judgment? What if we stopped calling those promptings “ego” and considered them messages from the divine within us, messages there to guide us through life?
Those who have succumbed to the teaching that the ego is a self-serving, antisocial, anti-spiritual entity that lives inside waiting to undermine, can never free the creative spark and do the things that truly bring happiness to themselves and to others. When we trust our desires and stop judging them as selfish, the nastiness that once accrued to our inner spirit strangely disappears. The soul isn’t repressed anymore. It is free and expressing, fulfilling its divine promptings. Gone is its envy toward others, its anger and resentment. The soul fills with its own innate joy, and wishes no less for everybody else.
Egoism and evil are not born of this entity; they are born of repressing this entity. Left to itself, unjudged and uncensored, the soul desires good things for itself and for all creation. So where is the selfishness?
Spiritual teachers tell us to love, but true love is never born of an edict. Love is not biting your tongue, doing what someone else wants, repressing your desires, giving money to charity or doing prescribed service. All those things come from an effort at love, not from having love. When you have love, you need no mandates. Love is a tenderness of feeling, an empathy to what another is going through, a perception of the beauty in another.
Not only is a mandate not needed for real love – a mandate is useless in bringing love about. How can a spiritual rule make you feel tenderness or empathy, or appreciation of beauty? Only an open soul can experience those things. A soul shrouded in judgment of itself as egoistic and selfish cannot feel tenderness, empathy or appreciation. It is way too hurt and closed for such delicate feelings. Expecting a judged soul to bloom forth in genuine love is like expecting a seedling you poured drain cleaner on, to sprout forth in beautiful, new, green shoots.
Any spiritual leader who makes love the core of their teaching or who talks of dissolving the “small self” or “ego” leads mankind further into the dark. A truly awake person knows that love cannot be achieved through effort and that egoism is the product of self-flagellation. The truly awake don’t tell people to be loving, they suggest people be true to themselves. They advise self-trust. They are also aware of the nature of religion and its destructive role in the world. They speak out against it in all its forms.
Truly spiritual people recognize that religions use teachings of love and oneness to manipulate humanity into first judging and then surrendering their precious, unique souls (in the form of their will). They perceive that someone stands to gain from this, those who stand at the top of religions, those who call themselves God, gods, or gurus. They know that the true God, the Source Consciousness, has no need for worship and never mandated such. They know that anyone asking for adulation is less than Infinite, less than divine – an imposter pretending to be those things.
The truly aware know that Source Consciousness wants only that its purpose in creation be fulfilled: the play and display of happiness, in a myriad expression of souls, unique in their wonderful forms. They know that religion’s teachings of mandated love and dissolving ego thwart the Infinite’s purpose by destroying those souls.
People who know the truth encourage free expression, independence, individuality. They cheer for things like questioning, dissent, and nonconformity. They never codify “truth” and they never set themselves up as “teachers.” They don’t allow others to put them on a pedestal. They don’t appear on the rolls of “the holy” or “the Self-realized.” They are simple, confident people going about their lives with the light on inside.
No one turns to them as gurus or quotes them as spiritual authorities. They bring light to the world by being who they are and living freely and differently. Their joy and originality inspire those around them to re-evaluate the shrunken, judged personhood inside themselves, to consider whether it, too, might be capable of such luminosity. The truly awake inspire envy and anger in many, whose first reaction to the possibility of freedom is outrage, because it means they may have been traveling in the wrong direction all their lives.
Love is the sweetest expression of life, the flower of God’s creation. Oneness is our deepest nature, the place we all join with God (to quote the poet, Matthew Arnold) like islands “linking (our) coral arms beneath the sea.” Love and Oneness – what could be better?
But teachings that tell us to practice love and to surrender to Oneness are quite another thing. There are those who would twist mankind’s natural spiritual instincts to serve their sinister purposes. Love and Oneness are their calling cards.
(For more about those sinister purposes, see my other articles in the “Blowing the Whistle on Enlightenment” series.)
© Bronte Baxter 2008
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