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God without Religion

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Author Topic: God without Religion  (Read 569 times)
Jade Hellene
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« on: April 04, 2007, 02:51:23 am »

God without Religion: Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths (Hardcover)
By Sankara Saranam


 Why do religions propagated in the name of God lead to so many wars and divisiveness.

Why do the many faces of God divide us and not unite us?

It is an age old question.

But Sankara Saranam -- ironically an American educated (he graduated from Columbia University) mystic born of Jewish parents who fled Iraq -- provides a thought provoking book that offers fresh answers to the dark legacy of religion that leads to deadly Crusades, Inquisitions, torture and a gruesome legacy of death. (Yes, you can toss Bush's "Divine Christian Mandate" right into the mix.)

As Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, writes in the preface to "God Without Religion": "The admission that no one really knows the true God behind all these images leads us to an understanding that human beings can only pursue the truth and not 'possess' it, as many religious zealots claim to do. Pursuit implies humility, acceptance, openness, and appreciation, while posession suggests arrogance, closed mindedness, and lack of appreciation. Herein lies the rub; if we persist in competing to possesthe truth instead of working in unity to pursue it, we are going to face untold grief -- and worse, violence."

What a succinct analysis of the dilemma we find ourselves in today, with fundamentalist Christians facing down fundamentalist Muslims, while the rest of us watch the death and bloodshed that ensues.

Of fundamentalism, Saranam,the book's author, notes in an interview: "During difficult and complex times, people tend to seek external security in hopes of relieving inner feelings of unhappiness, emptiness, or inferiority. Fundamentalist doctrines promise many forms of security in exchange for winning God's graces. But moving toward an infinite God and subscribing to fundamentalism is a contradiction in terms. Fundamentalism's literal interpretations of so-called divine law entice followers to identify with increasingly smaller and more cultlike segments of humanity rather than with an all-encompassing God. Nor can these interpretations be proven: there is no evidence of a God giving preference to certain people over others, creating miracles to prove his existence, or demanding that his favor be won. Certainly, it's possible to worship God through an established belief system, yet in doing so we run the risk of stunting our spiritual growth. The guidance we need in hard times is already within us, and all we must do is grow to encompass it."

Saranam interweaves a number of primarily Eastern-based "meditations" and practices that help one become free enough to find one's way to a universal sense of God, a euphoric feeling of being at one with God's creations, instead of being at war with them.

One of the most basic underlying requirements for the pursuit of the "infinite identity of God" is courage. It is so easy to follow institutional mandates on what to believe, who to fear, what "commandments" to live by. It is, however, a demanding challenge to break the shackles of organized religion and pursue God beginning with the inner self.

The unifying force of God will come to us, Saranam tells his readers, if we only take the time and practice the mindfulness necessary to kindle the inner light of creation.

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