Why eschewing religion is a prerequisite of spirituality

It is a glorious spring day in Brussels today, inviting to indulge a certain melancholy over the passage of time and the meaninglessness of existence.

In melancholy we sense, simultaneously, the beauty of both life and death; it may, if we let it, overwhelm us. But usually we are too frightened to let go.

This fear of being our mortal selves and clinging on to our misperception of separateness finds its origin in the survival instinct of animals. But although our biological nature impels us to seek to survive, it does not mandate fear when that survival is not threatened or simply because, ultimately, we all will die. Mortality anxiety takes root in a misformation of the ego.

Consciousness is not life without fear, but it is life without fear of fear. We know fear to be instinctive and survival to be a basic drive, but we also know that whether or not we survive, existence will go on. We know ourselves to be a tiny part of existence and this only now; and yet, if we are aware, a vital part, in a sense, however, which transcends vastly our self-identification.

Such awareness is the goal of spiritual practice; it is embodied spirituality. But our spiritual drive and our mortality anxiety are expertly captured and deviated by religion. Theistic religion promises an absurdity, namely the survival of the soul as a differentiated entity. In order to achieve this absurdity, devotees are ready to accept the most insane of sacrifices. Living is fully subordinate to an illusory survival. Even the Eastern doctrines of karma and reincarnation are not much different. Indeed they are possibly worse, since existence is seen as a chore which colossal efforts are required to escape.

Religion is not only the opium of the people; it is predatory on their enslavement and the sworn enemy of their emancipation. Today, take time to live, to experience one exquisite moment fully. The ecstatic character of life in which we partake is our birthright and the sole immensity there is.

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