Are We Better Off Without Religion?


Are we better off without religion?

—SV, World


Dear SV,

Fact is, religion will always be around, in one form or another, simply because there is an inborn longing in the human being for the Divine — even in the person who calls himself an atheist. Everyone is on the spiritual path, “back home,” knowingly or unknowingly.

So religion can never be banned. But it can be transformed.

Imagine a wagon wheel. First visualize its hub, sturdy and strong. Visualize how all the spokes meet there. From that center see the spokes going out, toward the surface of the wheel. Observe how the further away you go from the hub — getting closer to the wheel’s outer ring — the further away all spokes are from each other. One can even be on the very opposite end of another.

This perfectly illustrates religion. At the center of each religion, like at the hub of the wheel, lies the eternal Truth, which is universal, intelligent, joyful, and has been called God, or the ONE. It (“He”) is, according to Yogananda, quite beyond our human ability to comprehend, or even to imagine, being beyond time, space, and dimension.

That divine center can never be grasped intellectually, but only experienced in deep inner silence.

When religion points to that hub, it is exactly what our planet needs, desperately. That hub is nothing else than the essence of our own being. It is where we all have come from. It is our roots. The further we human beings move away from it, the more we cut our roots, living in egoic dissonance, creating confusion, misery, and disharmony. We need God. We need to find Him, and the way to find him is to turn within.

The more, however, a religion concentrates on its outer importance, on its dogmas, on blind belief and powerful institutionalism, the more it can become a cancer for our world. Yes, in that case we are better off without any religion.

In other words, people will always feel the need for some outer religion, for a philosophic structure; for gatherings, rituals, prayers or chants together. That is not the problem. Outer forms can also vary with different cultures and different social conditioning, which is alright. But the purpose must be to raise the indiviual’s consciousness. The direction of religious belief must increasingly become personal enlightenment. That is the transformation religion needs.

Such transformation probably won’t come from the religious leaders and institutions, but only from the common people, from you and me.

In short: religion can be both a channel for the Light which our planet needs, but also for darkness. It depends where it teaches people to concentrate: within, toward a personal inner experience, or outside, toward dogma and “mine is the only way!” But even if it should point outside, the choice still remains ours. It is us who can take Christianity back to its original glory, or Islam, or any religion. We do that by searching and experiencing its sacred essence.

Paramhansa Yogananda therefore taught “original Christianity,” and “original yoga,” and prophesied that in the future the purpose of all religions will be accepted as being one and the same: Self-realization. Finding our true divine Self, we return like a wave to its Ocean. In that Ocean we are all one, and one with the Eternal Consciousness called “Father,” “Spirit,” or “God.”

Maybe you can do your little part in bringing about that message of Self-realization. Of course it all starts by living it ourselves: by turning within.

In divine friendship,