Book Excerpt
God Without Religion : Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths
by Sankara Saranam

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An excerpt from God Without Religion : Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths by Sankara Saranam, published 2005 by Pranayama Institute.
Book excerpt reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
Copyright © 2005 Sankara Saranam

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BOOK EXCERPT
FROM THE AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION, PAGES XXXI-XXXIII

Another awareness gleaned from religious studies is that religions routinely claim to deliver ultimate expressions of truth, often judging followers of other religions as inferior, or worse, dupes of some evil power. Ultraorthodox Jewish sects teach their adherents that the Jewish soul is superior to the souls of gentiles-dogma that many Jews accept with pride. Asian Buddhist sects for centuries approached the search for truth as if it were a competitive sport in which they excelled through one-upmanship. Fundamentalist Christians inform followers that people who do not believe in Jesus go to hell, including those who lived before him, never heard of him, or were raised to believe in another god. Similarly, Muslims tell their followers that Muhammad is the last of Allah's messengers and that Allah's final word must be heard and obeyed by all; for Islamic fundamentalists, this means the whole world must convert to Islam.

Organized religions have done much harm by professing the superiority of their followers and creating such divisive categories as true believers and godless heathens, God's righteous chosen ones and pagans, the heaven bound and hell bound, and the enlightened and unspiritual. Overtly, "us against them" distinctions attract congregants by psychologically empowering them. Covertly, they forge polarized perceptions and a distorted view of human abuses, catalyzing endless violence.

In addition, religious scriptures of all persuasions have imperiled humanity's freedom of thought and pursuit of liberty. Playing on fears of the faithful, scriptural writings exalt those who follow blindly, attack brave questioners who entertain honest doubts, and threaten dissenters with a lifetime of guilt. These writings work insidiously in the minds of the faithful who, intolerant of criticism, have gone on to incite witch hunts and religious wars, resulting in immeasurable bloodshed between religions and within them.

Historically, some of the greatest evils have emerged from displays of holiness. It was usually zealots, sure they had heard the voice of God, who fueled the fires of fear and hatred, directing them toward religious sects, ethnic groups, racial minorities, and women. Humanity is still suffering from the fanaticism of individuals influenced by canonized books espousing erroneous ideas, theologies based on superstition, unscientific cosmologies, false expectations, and unethical commands. And not surprisingly, wherever ethnic or racial minorities or women are treated as inferior, the landscape is parched with ignorance and fear. If there is a useful purpose served by religions that continue to disempower any portion of the human race, it can only be in inspiring us to prevent history from repeating itself.

God Without Religion examines the past effects of organized religion and offers more direct avenues to knowledge of God for the present and future. Chapter 1, "Worshipping by Wondering," explores our present understanding of God; this invitation to worship by wondering rather than believing opens pathways for questioning popular definitions of God while simultaneously observing the effects of belief systems on the human mind. Chapter 2, "A Bigger Picture of Human Progress," shows how we arrived at this point; challenging linear notions of progress, it introduces an ancient model of human evolution and devolution as a means for viewing both the rise of religion and humanity's intellectual and intuitive potential for universalizing God. Chapter 3, "An Alternative to Organized Religion," presents the theory of self, a nondualistic option for realizing knowledge of God; this theory portrays intuition as a verifiable, repeatable, and unbiased psychophysical science. Chapter 4, "Testing Today's Choices," weighs the merits of New Age spiritual movements, points out the pitfalls of modern approaches to Eastern spiritual traditions, and illustrates ways to expand the sense of self beyond narrow spiritual identifications.

Interspersed throughout each chapter are techniques to aid in the search for answers to spiritual questions -- better answers than those furnished by organized religion. These techniques are universal, having been passed down in one form or another through mystical and philosophical disciplines.

God Without Religion : Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths by Sankara Saranam,
PLEASE CLICK HERE for BOOK PRICE and SHIPPING INFORMATION

We have reviewed this book.
Link to our book review.

There are additional excerpts
on our book review page.