by Steve Pavlina
While consciously pursuing your spiritual development is
commendable, joining an established religion such as Christianity,
Islam, or Hinduism is one of the worst ways to go about it.
In this article I'll share 10 reasons why you must eventually
abandon the baggage of organized religion if you wish to pursue
conscious living in earnest.
Since Christianity is currently the world's most popular religion,
I'll slant this article towards
Christianity's ubiquitous failings.
However, you'll find that most of these points apply equally well to
other major religions (yes, even Buddhism...)
Spirituality for dummies
If you have the awareness level of a snail, and your thinking is
mired in shame and guilt (with perhaps a twist of drug abuse or
suicidal thinking), then subscribing to a religion can help you
climb to a higher level of awareness.
Your mindset, however, still
remains incredibly dysfunctional; you've merely swapped one form of
erroneous thinking for another.
For reasonably intelligent people who aren't suffering from major
issues with low self-esteem, religion is ridiculously
While some religious beliefs can be
empowering, on the whole the decision to formally participate in a
religion will merely burden your mind with a hefty load of false
When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous
group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to
discern truth on your own, you're told what to believe.
accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes
on your continued conscious development. Religion is the off-switch
of the human mind.
Leave the mythology behind, and learn to think for yourself...
intellect is a better instrument of spiritual growth than any
2. Loss of spiritual
One of the worst mistakes you can make in life is to attach your
identity to any particular religion or philosophy, such as by saying
"I am a Christian" or "I am a Buddhist."
This forces your mind into a fixed perspective, robbing you of
spiritual depth perception and savagely curtailing your ability to
perceive reality accurately.
If that sounds like a good idea to you, you'll probably want to
gouge out one of your eyeballs too. Surely you'll be better off with
a single, fixed perspective instead of having to consider two
separate image streams… unless of course you've become attached to
Religious "truths" are inherently rooted in a fixed perspective, but
real truth is perspective-independent. When you substitute religious
teachings for truth, you mistake shadows for light sources.
Consequently, you doom yourself to stumble around in the dark,
utterly confused. Clarity remains forever elusive, and the best
answer you get is that life is one giant mystery.
mysteries, however, arise not from what is truly unknowable; they
arise from the limitations of trying to understand reality from a
fixed frame of reference.
A more intelligent approach is to consider reality through a variety
of different perspectives without trying to force your perceptions
into an artificial religious framework.
If you wish to learn more
about this approach, read
Spiritual Depth Perception.
Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your
They're power structures that aim to convince you to give
away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating
people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless
minion training program.
Religions don't market themselves as such,
but this is essentially how they operate.
Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep.
They're among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning.
They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually
convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as
a deity, prominent figure, or great book.
Of course these instruments are usually controlled by those who
administrate the minion training program, but they don't have to be.
Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something
outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more
docile, and easier to control.
Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were
beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they're
actually promoting is submission.
Religions strive to fill your head with so much nonsense that your
only recourse is to bow your head in submission, often quite
Get used to spending a lot of time on your knees because
acts of submission such as bowing and kneeling are frequently
incorporated into religious practice...
Canine obedience training uses
Have you ever wondered why religious teachings are invariably
mysterious, confusing, and internally incongruent?
This is no
accident by the way - it's quite intentional.
By putting forth confusing and internally conflicting information,
your logical mind (i.e. your
neocortex) is overwhelmed. You try in
vain to integrate such contradictory beliefs, but it can't be done.
The net effect is that your logical mind disengages because it can't
find a pattern of core truth beneath all the nonsense, so without
the help of your neocortex, you devolve to a more primitive (i.e.
limbic) mode of thinking.
You're taught that this faith-based
approach is a more spiritual and conscious way to live, but in
reality it's precisely the opposite.
Getting you to distrust your own cerebral cortex actually makes you
dumber and easier to manipulate and control.
Karl Marx was right
when he said,
"Religion is the opiate of the people."
For example, the Old Testament and the New Testament
the Bible frequently contradict
each other with various rules of conduct, yet both are quoted during
Church leaders also behave in direct violation of the Church's
teachings, such as by covering up criminal and immoral activities
their own priests.
Those who try to mentally process such glaring contradictions as
coherent truth invariably suffer for it. A highly conscious person
would reject membership in such an organization as patently
So-called divine mysteries are engineered to be
You aren't meant to ever make sense of them since that would defeat
the whole purpose. When you finally wake up and realize it's all
B.S., you've taken the first step towards freedom from this
The truth is that so-called religious authorities don't know any
more about spirituality than you do. However, they know how to
manipulate your fear and uncertainty for their own benefit. How nice
of you to let them.
Although the most popular religions are very old, L. Ron Hubbard
proved the process can be replicated from scratch in modern times.
As long as there are large numbers of people who fear the
responsibility of their own power, religions will continue to
dominate the landscape of human development.
If you want to talk to God, then communicate directly instead of
using third-party intermediaries. Surely God has no need of
Don't fall into the trap of becoming a mindless
minion. It's a mistake to think that turning off your neocortex and
practicing mindless "faith" will bring you closer to God.
it will only bring you closer to dog.
If you devote serious time to the practice of religion, it's safe to
say you practice toilet-bowl time management, flushing much of your
precious life down the drain with little or nothing to show for it.
First, you'll waste a lot of time filling your head with useless
nonsense. This includes reading some of the worst fiction ever
written. Then there are various rules, laws, and practices to learn.
Seriously, if you have insomnia, try reading religious texts before
bedtime. You'll be asleep faster than you can say Methuselah.
you think hotels put Bibles next to the bed? It's the greatest
sedative known to man.
I have to give props to the
Scientologists for at least
incorporating space aliens (Xenu) into their stories.
It's a shame Gene
Roddenberry didn't formally invent his own religion; Stovokor sounds
like a lot of fun.
Once you finally realize your head has been filled with utter
nonsense, you must then purge such garbage from your mind if you
want your brain to be functional again. That can take considerably
longer, assuming you succeed at all. It's like trying to uninstall
AOL from your hard drive.
Next, you can expect to waste even more time on repetitive ritual
and ceremony, such as attending mass, learning prayers, and
practicing unproductive meditations.
If I add up the time I attended mass and Sunday school, studied
religion in school as if it were a serious subject, and memorized
various prayers, I count thousands of hours of my life I'd love to
I did, however, learn some important lessons, many of
which are being shared in this article.
I especially remember listening to a lot of bad sermons; most
priests are hideously poor speakers. Maybe it's because they drink
alcohol while on duty.
Now if you really go overboard and throw in learning a dead language
for good measure, you can kiss years of your life goodbye.
The more time you devote to religious practice, the more you waste
your life on pointless, dead-end pursuits… and the more you'll want
to delude yourself with a phony,
"Hehe, I meant to do that" attitude...
your local pedophile
In addition to being a serious waste of time, religious practice can
also be a huge waste of money.
For starters when you donate to a major religion, you support its
expansion, which means you're facilitating the enslavement of your
That isn't very nice, now is it?
If you feel the urge to donate money, give it to a real and
honorable cause, not a fabricated one.
Better yet, go outside and do
something that really helps people.
If you can't think of anything
better, grab a can of paint and clean up some local graffiti.
Your religious donations fund freeloaders who mooch off society but
who generally provide little or no value in return.
Sure there are
some religious people who perform valuable public services, but for
the most part, that isn't their bailiwick.
These freeloaders typically operate tax-free, meaning they're
effectively subsidized by taxpayers. That's a great racket if you're
on the receiving side… not so great if you're funding it though.
Religions offer a suite of special services to generate additional
They'll spout some gibberish while,
feeding you a crusty
pronounce you bonded to a fellow human being
snip some of
your excess skin
pour water on your head
proclaim your manhood
cast out your demons
pronounce your transgressions forgiven,
When they can't think of anything else, they make up some drivel
like confirming you're still loyal to them.
The bill may read
"suggested donation," but it's still a bill.
When you donate
money to a religious organization, you're doing much
worse than throwing your money away.
You're actively funding evil.
If you think that spending a billion dollars
to defend pedophiles
rapists is a good use of your hard-earned cash, perhaps you
should run for Pope...
You could hardly do worse.
At least Wall Street
about its greed and
One of my Catholic high school teachers was later revealed to be a
repeat child molester… written up in the newspaper and everything.
didn't see any suspicious behavior at the time, and to be totally
honest, I actually liked that teacher and was shocked to learn of
his extracurricular activities.
He was shuffled from one location to another by those who knew about
his appetite for young flesh. I'm glad I wasn't on the menu, but I
feel sad for those who were. Methinks God should raise his
standards… just a tad.
Why aren't Catholic priests allowed to marry? This has nothing to do
with what's written in the Bible or with any benefits of celibacy.
This rule was invented by the Church to prevent their priests from
producing heirs. When the priests died, their property would go back
to the Church, thereby enriching the rich even more.
Apparently God needed more cash...
It was a very effective policy, as
the Church is now among the richest and most powerful organizations
on earth. It's hard to fail when you have a loyal force of lifetime
indentured servants who work cheaply and then yield their life
savings to you when they die.
Lay religious people (i.e. non-clergy), on the other hand, are
encouraged to have lots of babies because that means more people are
born into the religion, which means more money and a bigger power
base. Condoms are a big no-no; they're bad for business. Marriage is
a big yes; it means more brainwashed babies will be made.
Would you seriously consider this sort of structure a "good cause"
worthy of your hard-earned cash?
I have got to get me one of these…
Religions frequently promote inbred social networks.
encouraged to spend more time with people who share the same belief
system while disengaging from those with incompatible beliefs.
Sometimes this is done subtly; other times it's more obvious.
If you're one of the saved, blessed, or otherwise enlightened
individuals who stumbled upon the one true belief system, then
supposedly everyone else remains in the dark. Certain religions are
overtly intolerant of outsiders, but to one degree or another, all
major religions cast non-subscribers in a negative light.
This helps to discourage members from abandoning the religion while
still enabling them to proselytize. The main idea is to maintain
social structures that reward loyalty and punish freedom of thought.
This us-vs.-them prejudice is totally incongruent with conscious
It's also downright moronic from a global perspective. But
it remains a favored practice of those who pull the strings. When
you're taught to distrust other human beings, fear gets a foothold
in your consciousness, and you become much easier to control.
When you join a religion, your fellow mind-slaves will help to keep
you in line, socially rewarding your continued obedience while
punishing your disloyalty.
Why do they do this? It's what they've
been conditioned to do...
Tell your religious friends that you're abandoning their religion
because you want to think for yourself for a while, and watch the
sparks fly. Suddenly you've gone from best friend to evil demon.
There's no greater threat to religious people than to profess your
desire to think for yourself.
There are better ways to enjoy a sense of community than joining a
slavery club. Try making friends with conscious, free-thinking
people for a change - people who are willing to connect with you
regardless of how silly your beliefs are.
You may find it
intimidating at first, but it's quite refreshing once you get used
Since I get asked this question all the time, I might as well answer
Do I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior? No more
than I'd accept a credit card from Crapital One. Either way I'd be
worried about the fine print.
Does this mean we can't be friends
anymore? Please don't hate me because I'm doomed...
7. Idiocy or
hypocrisy - pick one
When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two
You can become an idiot, or you can become a hypocrite. If
you've already chosen the former, I'll explain why, and I'll use
small words so that you're sure to understand.
First, there's the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of
the contrived, man-made drivel that's fed to you. Accept that the
earth is only 10,000 years old.
Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about
various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they
know what they're talking about.
Eat your dogma. Good boy...!
Congratulations! You're a moron believer.
You'll be saved,
enlightened, and greeted with tremendous fanfare when you die…
unless of course all the stuff you were taught turns out not to be
Nah… if the guy in the robe says it's true, it must be true. Ya gotta have faith, right...?
Next, we have the hypocrisy option.
In this case your neocortex is
strong enough to identify various bits of utter nonsense in the
religious teachings that others are trying to ram down your throat.
You have a working
B.S. detector, but it's slightly damaged.
You're smart enough to realize that earth is probably a lot older
than 10,000 years and that pre-marital (or non-marital) sex is a lot
of fun, but some B.S. still gets through. You don't swallow all the
bull, but you still identify yourself as a follower of a particular
religion, most likely because you were raised in it and never
actually chose it to begin with.
To you it's just a casual pursuit. You're certainly not a die-hard
fundamentalist, but you figure that if you drink the wine and chew
the wafer now and then, it's good enough to get you a free ride into
a half-decent afterlife. You belong to the pro-God club. Surely
there's safety in numbers.
Two people can't be wrong… although 4-1/2
billion supposedly can.
In this case you become an apologist for your own religion. You
don't want to be identified with the extreme fanatics, nor do you
want to be associated with the non-believers.
You figure you can straddle both sides.
On earth you'll basically
live as a non-practitioner (or a very sloppy and inconsistent
practitioner), but when you eventually die, you've still got the
membership card to show God.
Do you realize how
deluded you are?
Perhaps if you have to throw out so much of the nonsense to make
your chosen belief system palatable, you shouldn't be drinking the
Kool Aid in the first place.
Free yourself from the mental baggage,
stop looking to others for permission to live, and start thinking on
your own. If your God exists, he's smart enough to see through your
From time to time, some of my readers take a stab at converting me
to their religion.
Most of them come across as total loons, but I
can at least respect their consistency. I've no idea why they bother
to read my site (which is about raising, not lowering,
consciousness). Perhaps some of them are getting ready to convert
from fundamentalism to common sense.
You'd think I'd be quite a prize for any serious religion.
million monthly readers, that's a lot of people I could potentially
enslave (convert), not to mention how much I could fill the Church
coffers by soliciting indulgences (donations) on their behalf.
Henceforth I expect a much better conversion effort. If you won't do
it for the money, then do it for the souls. You can't let so many of
us go to hell without trying in earnest to save us, can you?
Just keep those conversion emails below 10,000 words if possible,
with no more than 9,000 of them quoted from your favorite great
Please tell me you aren't still practicing the religion you happened
to be born into?
Surely you've outgrown your baby clothes by now.
Isn't it time you also outgrew your baby religion?
What if you were born into a different culture?
Would you have been
conscious enough to find your way back to your current belief
Or are your current beliefs merely a product of your
environment and not the result of conscious choice?
Many religions are just a
mish-mash of what came before.
largely based on pagan rituals.
pagan beliefs and rituals had been protected by copyright,
Christianity wouldn't even exist.
If you take the time to dig into the roots of Christianity, you'll
encounter various theories that Christianity's teachings were
largely assembled from pre-Christian myths and that Jesus himself
was merely a fictional character pieced together from earlier
You go, Horus!
Many religious teachers (i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.) are
just brainwashed slaves themselves.
They don't have any real
authority and aren't even aware of the agenda being set by their
superiors. This makes them better minions because they actually
believe the B.S. they're spouting and don't know the truth behind
A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, but that's as far
as they get. They may interact with the bartender, but they never
get to know the guy who owns the bar. They suffer from inherited
falsehood just like everyone else.
Is your religion based on the 'inspired word' of God? No more than
Just because someone says their text is
inspired doesn't mean it is. Anyone can claim divine inspiration.
The top religions are decided by popularity, not by truth.
Even the central figures in major religions didn't follow the
religions that were spawned in their names. If they didn't swallow
the prevailing "wisdom" about gods and spiritual leaders and such,
why should you?
If you want to be more like the people you worship,
then follow their lead by striking out on your own.
Move beyond your baby religion. Consider maturity as a reasonable
Religious rules and laws invariably hamper the development of
This causes all sorts of problems like pointless
violence and warfare. Those who preach nonviolence as a rule or law
tend to be the most violent of all. Such people cannot be trusted
because they'll violate their proclaimed values with the weakest of
When you externalize compassion into a set of rules and laws, what
you're left with isn't compassion at all. True compassion is a
matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of
force-backed rules and laws.
The more religious a person becomes, the less compassionate s/he is.
The illusion of compassion substitutes for the real thing. Religious
people tend to be the most bigoted and non-accepting people on
They're the least trustworthy and suffer from the grossest character
They pretend they're
doing good, but they're really collaborators in a system designed to
push people into unconscious slavery to a "higher" authority. They
are slaves promoting slavery.
Historically speaking, religious people love to fight each other...
Instead of unconditional love, they practice
The only unconditional aspect is their thirst for blood. If you
disagree with them, you're a target… either for conversion or
destruction (both of which are really the same thing).
If you value the ideal of unconditional love, you won't find it in
the practice of religion. Real compassion doesn't arise from
believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying
the concept of karma.
Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires
the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the
promise of reward. If you're obedient to your faith, it's a safe bet
that compassion is absent from your life. You probably don't even
know what real compassion feels like.
The more we collectively abandon all religion, the better off this
planet will be.
This doesn't mean we have to abandon all spiritual
pursuits. It just means we must stop turning spirituality into
something it isn't.
10. Faith is
Religion is the systematic marketing of fear.
Blessed are the poor (donate heavily).
Blessed are the meek (obey).
Blessed are the humble (don't question authority).
Blessed are the
hungry (make us rich while you starve).
Blessed are the merciful (if
you catch us doing something wrong, let it go).
Blessed are the pure of heart (switch off your brain).
the timid, the cowardly, the fearful.
Blessed are those who give us
their power and become our slaves...
That's the kind of nonsense religion pushes on people.
you to turn your back on courage, strength, and conscious living.
This is stupidity, not divinity...
Religion will teach you to fear being different, to fear standing up
for yourself, and to fear being an independent thinker.
erode your self-trust by explaining why you're unable to
successfully manage life on your own terms:
You are unworthy. You're
a sinner. You're unclean. You belong to a lesser caste. You are not
Of course the solution is always the same - submit to the will of an
Believe that you're inadequate. Give away your
power. Follow their rules and procedures. Live in fear for the rest
of your life, and hope it will all turn out okay in the end.
When you practice faith instead of conscious living, you live under
a cloak of fear.
Eventually that cloak becomes so habitual you
forget it's even there. It's very sad when you reach the point where
you can't even remember what it feels like to wield creative freedom
over your own life, independent of what you've been conditioned to
Faith is the coward's substitute for courage. It's also really good
marketing if you're the one who controls the faith. If you're afraid
or unwilling to assume total responsibility for your life, you're a
perfect match for religion.
Fear in one part of your life invariably spreads to all other parts
- you can't compartmentalize it. If you find yourself frustrated
because you're too afraid to follow your dreams, to talk to members
of the opposite sex, to speak up for yourself, etc., then a good
place to start is to rid your life of all religious nonsense.
let fear get a foothold in your consciousness.
Stop trying to comfort yourself by swallowing religious rubbish. If
you really need something to believe in, then believe in your own
potential. Put your trust in your own intellect. Stop giving away
Dump the safety-in-numbers silliness...
Just because a lot of people
believe stupid stuff doesn't mean it isn't stupid. It just means
that stupidity is popular on this planet.
When people are in a state
of fear, they'll swallow just about anything to comfort themselves,
including the bastion of stupidity known as religion.
Religion is spiritual immaturity.
It's entirely possible to enjoy your life without spending so much
of it bent over in submission. Pull your head out of your rear, and
look around with your own two eyes.
If you need something to
worship, then feel grateful for your own conscious mind. Pull it out
of the cobwebs, and boot it up.
Besides… if some popular religious version of God does exist,
there's a good chance he's a complete and total idiot.
He made us in
his image, right? So perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to worship an
entity so lacking in intelligence. We're better off on our own.
God isn't going to smite you for not formally worshipping him. If he
didn't smite me by now, it's a safe bet you'll slide beneath the
radar as well. And if that doesn't work, you can borrow my fake ID.
I've been baptized and confirmed, and I'm the son of an altar boy
and the nephew of a priest, so I'm sure I'll be fine...