Religion-mind

All Religions are Contents of the Mind

By Desmond Yeoh

From the ebook- ‘Filling our Life with Celebration’

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Osho made a very powerful statement: All religions are contents of the mind. If we analyse all that we know or come to believe in our respective religions, we will find that they have been put in our mind by others. These concepts create artificial boundaries between human beings of different religions and results in unnecessary arguments and in the extreme cases, war and murder.

Since religion is the content of the mind, the mind can use it to bind itself to the ego or free itself. When religious knowledge inflates one’s ego, it becomes one’s identity. It adds to one’s ego; thus making self-realisation more difficult. To add to the problem, one will think that the other religions are wrong and refuse to listen to them to one’s own detriment.

However, if we see the different religions as different means of achieving self-realisation, then, it does not become a hindrance to enlightenment. People who hold such a view need not argue with others to defend their religion. They are open and receptive; willing to listen in order to clarify their own doubts.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the emphasis is on compassion. It teaches that the view of oneself as the most important person is the cause of suffering. As such, the masters of Tibetan Buddhism have developed meditation techniques to develop compassion so that one can eventually learn to place the happiness of others above oneself. One then lessens one’s attachment to the ego. For example, a follower of the Lamrin teachings, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, meditates on the teaching that he has numerous past lifetimes and all beings would have been a parent or someone close in one those lifetimes. Because of their kindness in the previous lifetimes, he owes a debt of gratitude to them in this current lifetime and serves them selflessly. This is similar to the path of Karma Yoga.

When Mother Teresa and her nuns served a suffering individual, they viewed the work as serving Jesus. They are married to the Lord and they are serving the Lord. In this manner, the Lord’s happiness is more important than theirs. The joy in the eyes of the suffering they helped becomes their own joy. Separation is lost and they eventually reach self-realisation through the path of God. This is similar to the path of Bhakti Yoga.

In Theravadan Buddhism, the emphasis is on self-analysis. One meditates on one’s body, feelings, thoughts/mental formations, perceptions, beliefs and consciousness to come to the realisation that one is none of those. For example, a Theravadan practitioner would observe his thoughts and see that everything that he knows, his beliefs and his view of the world has been put there by others. He observes that the thoughts arises and falls away on their own, outside his control. He is not able to find an inherent self. Eventually, he lets go of identifying with his mind-body complex (ego) and achieve self-realisation.

These are examples to illustrate how all the different religions or paths lead to the one same destination of self-realisation, the transcending of the ego. If we are not able to appreciate this, then our religious beliefs will bind us tighter to our egos, creating a hindrance for self-realisation.

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