“You often see the same thing, but much more profoundly, in the eyes of people who are dying. You’ll also see it sometimes in mentally ill people – it’s almost as though, through their suffering, they acquire some kind of spiritual insight. It’s like a current of divine energy, something so strong and so beautiful, it’s impossible to even describe”
– Dr. Jack Preger.
The first impression of aliens visiting us from an advanced civilization in outer space would most likely be one of awe.
Awe at the stunning variety of landscapes, countless life forms, vast mountain ranges, valleys, deserts, rain forests, lakes, rivers, oceans, and polar ice caps. After all their interstellar travels, they may conclude that we inhabit the most beautiful planet in the Universe.
Their second impression might be of incredulity; of trying to find an interpretation for words such as: countries, nationalities, borders, foreign languages, religions, – and why these names split this relatively tiny planet into hostile, murderous, competing, often non-communicating factions. They might observe that the last word, religion, tends to be the most divisive of any other, and be quite unable to explain, or understand the strange phenomenon.
Our small abode in the vastness of space is home to a bewildering number of different and sometimes conflicting beliefs, all of which were apparently passed on in some form to specially selected and enlightened human beings by an invisible Deity.
What each of us believes is often entirely influenced by inherited cultural and spiritual teachings, and ready-made, off-the-shelf family faiths. In many cases, these religions dictate our lives. They tell us when and what we can or cannot eat, and what we can or cannot wear. Some oblige us to shave our heads, others forbid us to cut our hair. Even our genital organs are subject to interference.
Once implanted and reinforced by respective societies, countless people end up having their minds imprisoned, with their behaviour, emotional responses, and happiness (or lack of it) extrinsically controlled by a powerful, often irreversible, form of spiritual brain-washing, which is inevitably passed on to their children, and perpetuated. It is endlessly fascinating, and often frightening, to imagine what a liberated mini-skirted secretary in central London might have turned out to be, born instead to poor parents in Lahore or Luanda.
No religion of course can be demonstrated to be true, and neither can we prove the existence of a benevolent Creator. Indeed, if we consider Mother Nature, where “acts of God” such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters result in countless deaths every year, and on a planet where most living creatures kill and devour each other without mercy in order to survive, it would tend to completely negate the concept of a loving God altogether.
The unpalatable truth is that every single day, millions of wild animals suffer the pain and horror of disease, starvation, or predation. Humankind’s example is even less supportive of a loving God. Countless adherents of the world’s main faiths, supposedly pious adherents of their religious teachings, have throughout history killed, tortured and raped under the banner of their so-called beliefs, and do so tragically today – even as you read this.
Today’s children learn words such as genocide and ethnic cleansing almost as soon as they can comprehend the television news. Anxious mothers warn their children of evil people who sexually molest young boys and girls, whispering that religious figures can be guilty of this too, and nobody will really know how many paedophiles carry out their evil practices hidden behind the cloth of their faith. Wise fathers counsel adolescent siblings about the dangers of being indoctrinated by convincing religious sects designed to enrich their leaders at the expense of their followers, and that astonishingly, many highly intelligent people fall for this deception every single day.
Given the tragic failings of world religions to unite us, agnosticism or aetheism become increasingly more logical to many free-thinking people, the latter now almost becoming ‘fashionable’ in publications exposing the God-paradox, such as Sam Harris’s best-selling book: “The End of Faith”.
But whatever kind of person we are, most of us at some time will feel awed by our own existence – the sheer magic of life itself, or the mysteries of the limitless expanding universe around us.
And for those of us who have faced the heartbreak of watching a loved one pass away before our eyes – the frightening finality of death – the need for a deeper understanding can become agonising. Even Sam Harris himself admits:
‘There is clearly a sacred dimension to our existence, and coming to terms with it could well be the highest purpose of human life”
And at a time when we might open our front door to hear some self-convinced souls warn us that unless we convert to the “truth” contained in the free leaflets they are distributing, we will face damnation, it tells us that something is terribly wrong. More than ever before, there is a profound need for religious tolerance, understanding – and most of all, plain, solid common sense.
One source of this understanding could be an Englishman, an-ex farmer, who calls a spade a spade, and has spent his life searching for pure spiritual truths — a down-to-earth person who has studied the major religions of the world yet adheres to none of them; instead, applying to his own life their combined and highest teachings, stripped of any dogma or doctrine.
Somebody who, like Mother Teresa, has selflessly devoted his life to the service of the poor, but who does not preach, proselytise, or even attend a place of worship. A man with an infectious laugh and a sparkling sense of humour, who is as equally at home in an English pub, as in a third world slum.
Somebody who is not perfect, but is in many ways an exceptional human being. A remarkable man who through his research, and his own profound, inexplicable spiritual experiences, might bring us closer to the universal message, and the reason why we are all here.
Read about Dr. Jack Preger, his personal experiences and recollections at: http://basilicum122.googlepages.com/fromtheauthor