The temptations of the faithful
I do not remember where I read that the troopers of the Waffen SS had written on the buckle of their belt: “Gott mit uns”, that is “God with us”.
But why should we be surprised? History is on message: God is not well served by those who use His or Her name.
From Simon de Monfort who torched the gentler south of France on behalf of the Church to the latest bearded Al Quaida walking bomb, there is one common thread: they all thought and think that they are the instruments of the Will of God.
To badly simplify a long and bloody record, there seem to be two main ways in which, without noticing it, the followers become betrayers.
The first tendency looks like the temptation to resort to the external religion because the internal one (becoming the Self) is not imbibed. The projection goes outwards (building institutions, churches and temples, pilgrimages and hierarchy under a strong leader, proselyte and convert to the faith, expect obedience and cash; here you have, for instance the pope and the Catholics, the caliph and the Sunnites... At the end you have an organized religion but the spiritual substance is vanishing. Often the weak minded who needs to hide under the authority of somebody else or the ambitious who wants control chose this path.
The second tendency observed in history is a reaction against the corruption of the first one. It "protests" and, in an emotional way, it erects itself as defensor of the true faith that is being subtly or not too subtly abandoned. Because of the reactive nature of the movement, anger and its derivative products can carry it: hate, violence of various forms. Here we may find more radical movements linked to Protestants, televangelists or Chiites. Yet, to defend spirituality with means that are opposed to spirituality ends up in achieving the opposite results; this is a different but also real betrayal: at the end we find fundamentalism.
If they become radical, the fundamentalists see themselves as the only true devotees of God and all the others are traitors who have to go to hell. Actually, they love helping sending others to hell while people with a more pleasant nature would rather send others to paradise.
Frankly, when we think about it, no one can possibly realize the inhuman (of course) manner in which God exerts restrain and patience. How would you like having such people talking on your behalf?
Not everyone is bad of course. Often, intentions are good but the result isn’t. How to improve the show? All this fuss must be about something isn’t it? If there is a false religion there must be a true one; if the pure religion (nirmala dharma) exists beyond these temptations what would it be? Probably the true devotees exist but not always where we look for.
The gnostics of course are those who want to "become", who live their religion without fuss as a process of inner transformation to unite with the Self within; "gn" in sanskrit, means "to know "like in gnyana yoga, the yoga of knowledge on the central channel of the spine, the sushumna nadi.
So gnostics are in the center; positioning on the middle path of the sushumna helps the ascent while avoiding the pitfalls of extremes in emotion and action. When equipped with true knowledge, bhakti yoga (devotion, emotions) on the left and karma or kriya yoga (action) on the right are beautifully gracing the growth of the spiritual personality.
As this balance happens inside, the religion for this millennium shall put a premium on meditation to travel on the axis of inner becoming. But then how to recognize such a person?
If we are a man or a woman of God, a true devotee, no need to tell others. No need to broadcast it from cyber space or the top of a minaret.
This is where good old common sense kicks in; true spirituality will show and shine through attributes of the inner becoming: serenity, truthfulness, penetration, love, honesty, courage, joy, magnetism or generosity, being just a very nice and love giving person...
And if it is still a bit difficult to manifest all these and other attributes that reflect His or Her higher aspects, - as it is for most of us, frankly - then, at least, we know we are not the only ones, the only faithful, the best of those who are saved. We know we still have to progress, we understand others are not perfect either and compassion, this most healing water, can flow.