If “mystic” is a bad word, then slander me with it. Where there are no mysteries, there are no questions. Where there are no questions, the mind is not free. Like a dream within a dream, the world is a Russian nesting doll of controls over the mind. One at a time I have popped out of one layer only to find myself bound and buried inside another. This is not to say authorities are bad. They serve a purpose and all purposes can be perverted. Authorities are gray cocoons serving as protection until the time comes to fly in color. Do we put adults in time-out? No, because they have emerged from the authority of the classroom. There is something perverse about teachers and parents trying to maintain control over a grown mind. Religion too is a gray cocoon initiating spiritual metamorphosis, but in the end, it must be shed along with the parent and school teacher.
Religion has become a bad word – especially among the religious. It used to mean “reconnecting with the Divine,” but has come to mean “everyone else who thinks they’re doing what God wants, but is really doing it wrong.” It has come to mean institutions, dogma, rules, ritual without reality, a form of godliness – deriving power through outward displays of fear and reward, yet impotent to affect inner spiritual awakening and re-connection with the greater Whole. Despite all this, religion acts as a gatekeeper and can initiate the upward journey.
Religion says to seekers, “Believe the right things, and you will have reward with nothing to fear.” This is fine for a little while until those who believe the right things do not act the right way, so religion, wanting to correct or distance itself from those who would tarnish its reputation, says, “Act the right way, and you will have reward.” Eventually it becomes apparent that many who are believing the right things and acting the right way are still mired in misery, sickness, and despair. Now religion acting as the gatekeeper might close the door to eternity and keep your mind chained by saying, “You are miserable, sick, and despairing because you still aren’t believing and doing the right things. Try harder!” or religion might take you to the threshold, open the door, and allow you to escape with one final piece of good advice, “BE right.” (though it is usually stated more obscurely such as: “it’s not about religion; it’s about relationship”) It is this final realization that one must BE right that can be the beginning of an ontological inward journey culminating in the original meaning of religion: “re-connection with the Divine,” and when that happens, one touches the infinite ultimate truth of BEING which is beyond words, time and space.
Since words cannot adequately describe the experience, the seeker finds him/herself unable to fully relate to those who haven’t crossed the threshold. Any attempt to put this living truth into words results in seemingly esoteric and nonsensical statements like, “before Abraham was born, I AM,” and thus the seeker is misunderstood and labeled a mystic and heretic by those who are still mostly focused on believing and doing the right things. The irony is that right belief and right action are the ultimate results of right being which is discovered in a place of no judgment, ultimate love, and pure forgiveness. To pursue right action and right belief outside of this non-judgmental place of being brings condemnation and shame. Thus “religion” that is not shed is perverted into a prison of fear and shame. But for the one who escapes across the threshold and tastes of heaven, this new initiate to the realm of the eternal now has a difficult decision to make: he/she can run back into the comforting arms of religion, reinterpret these new personal experiences to fit the mold of his old dogmas, take a seat at the tribal table where things are black and white and make sense and where all the really important questions are fully answered… OR… stay in this eternal mystical realm beyond the veil, suffering persecution from the religious while in the company of brothers and sisters from every religion who have shed the cocoons and “mind forg’d manacles” of their respective religions. The former may at best be a reformer or at worst a Pharisee. The latter may become, at best, an avatar of the Divine – at worst, a Devil.