Way back in the past, when human beings were yet another of nature’s many species, individuals came together for procuring food and for protection against other species who may have been a threat to them. This would have been during the time when nascent societies were formed. It would have been the mothering instinct, so strong in the animal species as well, which ensured the wellbeing of the kids of the earliest human population.
Having taken care of basics such as food and shelter that are essential for survival, human beings would have been wonderstruck with their surroundings and then started thinking of what was beyond the evidence of the five senses. They would have given it a name resulting in the formation of the very first Divinity in their mind. When a group of such people came together, it would have been the beginnings of a common religion. When the first person who differed or disagreed with this faith was able to convince a group of people about the veracity of his alternative faith, a second different, and maybe, conflicting theology would have formed.
Every preacher of any religion proceeds to declare that love is the basis of its teachings. Unfortunately, the actions which follow are often contrary to the averred intention. This is because the relationship of an individual to an unseen, yet palpable Divinity, is a personal one and cannot be shared beyond a point. It would not be wrong to say that each individual is a venue of worship. Ironically, it is the practical difference between deep sleep and death which hints at the presence of a meta-physical entity. This entity, differently named Soul, Atman, etcetera, may be seen as a tiny bit of ambient Divinity returning, presumably, to its source. The inscrutable mystery of pre-birth or pre-conception—and post-death existence—is what makes human beings think of things beyond the purely physical and mundane.
Early human societies would have been concerned about their own survival, followed by the desire for comfort. This is where the element of humanism creeps into every religion. Any religion devoid of humanism may turn into a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ and/or an elaborate rationale for murder or suicide. It is this reality which makes some religious leaders prattle on about love being the foundation of their particular brand of faith when their teachings exude only hate.
Every religion has to be rooted in philosophy, defined as being a set of ideas we use to apply in life. It is when theologies in practice start distancing themselves from love and philosophy that they turn out to be toxic. Religion is rather like the much maligned nuclear energy which is a potential source for good, cheap and clean energy, provided the safety norms are in place. Religions too carry within themselves the power of positivity and destruction in equal measure. The latter when a theology turns out to be dependent solely on its interpreters rather than on individual adherents and the essentiality of the teachings of the Divinity they declare themselves to follow.
The real reason why faiths and certain kinds of religious practices die out or necessitate reform is a growing schism between its practice and what is good and useful for human beings. Even the most cursory look at history will prove that in the 21st century, without constant updating, any religion may be on its way out. Vacuum and stagnation are states antithetical to human existence. When either of the two get sustained in relationships as well as in theologies, extraneous and unwelcome tendencies and practices tend to creep in. This is what marks the descent of any particular faith from the sublime to the treacherous.
To guard ourselves against this insidious takeover of what is essentially intended to be for the good of humanity, we (within multiple faiths) who are believers in Divinity, need to be vigilant. Most often, the enemy of the truth is not falsehood but half-truths. Most faith ‘peddlers’ have become past masters at this. They mouth the correct phrases but very quietly and cunningly encourage codicils that engender conflict. Often, their very stature becomes questioned if there is no fight, and consequently, a ‘side’ to be adhered to. This may prove to be very effective short-term. But the basic instinct for survival of humanity will kick in and after even a long run on the basis of hate, fear and intolerance, every congregation in the name of any Divinity will either correct itself or stagnate, and ultimately, die out. A lack of interest in the basics of the mass of adherents is the surest way to kill anything, be it religion, writing, mountain climbing or any field of activity or thought.
The basic evidence of our senses show that there are things beyond their knowledge field. This vast unknown is common to all streams of religions. Nachikethus and Lazarus are witness to this, both coming to similar conclusions from Hinduism and Christianity, respectively.
Fortunately, the ultimate control of both time and evolution does not rest solely on scheming human minds. As long as the unknown or the ‘joker’ factor exists in the pack of human existence, the chance of survival of both love and humanism will be taken out of the hands of their fake friends and advocates into the realm of tolerance, peace and wellbeing. This is the future we believers in Divinity need to work towards.