Many years ago, when I was at an in-between phase in my quest to find some organized religion that I could support, I studied Tarot and developed a beginners level of competency. I could do a half-dozen different lay-outs, and knew what most cards meant in certain positions.
But when I did a lay-out to answer my own question about the path to enlightenment, I had no choice but to seek out help from someone I knew who had a lot more experience. It wasn’t because I didn’t see an answer to my question – I just didn’t believe it. But, the weird thing was, my friend gave me the exact same answer.
“You already have all that you need to achieve enlightenment.”
Over the years I’ve revisited that advice, and I think I’m beginning to see something. But it isn’t just me – it’s all of us.
There is one special thing that all of us have inside, which if nurtured and developed, would by itself lead to world peace and enlightenment. It is the capacity to tolerate. If you look into a pre-school, you can put any number of different kids into one room with a good supply of toys, and those kids will play. Together. None of those kids is rejecting others over race, politics, religion, gender. “Let’s have fun, you’re perfect exactly as you are.” Humans have to be taught to hate. And we hate most what we see in others that we consider to be a reflection of what we dislike about ourselves.
One reason I can no longer endorse or practice organized religion is because ALL organized religions go against this idea. They set up the believers as a special group, and instantly demonize everyone on the outside. The only way forward to peace is to convince or force all outsiders to believe as the special group does. The Muslims are doing it. The Protestant Christians are doing it. The Jews are doing it. The Roman Catholics are doing it. And because they are all doing it – the automatic and inherent conflict is that they are all trying to convert each other while clinging to their own certainty that they are special. It isn’t far off to consider that until 150 years ago war was primarily fought over religion, and even now the war in Iraq/Iran/Syria is fundamentally a religious war. So is the war in Afghanistan.
What I’m saying is certainly nothing new. There was a popular book out when I was a child called “I’m okay, you’re okay”. I think we should all give it another look.