The Changing Face of Worship
With all we have come to investigate, experience and believe has religious intervention now run its course? At its most compassionate, the act of worship can be defined as loving, admiring or respecting somebody or something greatly. But when taking worship to the extreme it can lead to a toxic bondage to something with devastating consequences.The major religions of today still call upon their followers to worship the words of men, at the feet of other men and women, often in buildings of great wealth, and too often to then defend it all with their lives. Is this really the best way in which we can show our reverence for creation, for our very ‘being’ and all that sustains us?
To be born is the most miraculous event in our lives. The experience of living then becomes the ongoing miracle, with all we need provided for by everything and everyone else on the planet. The fact, that with the passage of time, we have chosen to value all this in terms of money, to share it out in terms of what will give us the best financial return rather than meet the greater need, is not a divine order, it is not a commandment from some higher power. It has been our doing alone. People may hide behind their doctrine, move among the growing number of disillusioned masses in their ‘righteous robes’ and turn a blind eye to unholy acts of abuse, neglect and deprivation, claiming their faith gives them immunity, but they cannot escape the reality that the veil is wearing thin.
What could we possibly build to surpass the symmetry, purity, beauty and harmony of the natural world’s own great constructions, be they vast and imposing like a great lake or mountain range, or small and delicate like an orchid or seashell? Our ancient ancestors understood this and even when they did erect the most wondrous things, they were of nature, to sit at ease in their natural surroundings and to be enjoyed by all. It is only when we introduced the ‘middle man’, between ourselves and the creative force of life that worship started to wander. Now our acts of worship come at a price… Our bodies, our individual temples, in which divinity has always resided, is no longer deemed good enough, and we are forced to go outside our selves to give thanks, to ask for help, to be heard, even to feel loved into vast, complex palaces of wealth and control.
For thousands of years as we have expanded in numbers and across the globe, our ability to connect with our love for all life and creation appears to have drifted into the distance, to the point that for some today it is impossible to achieve this fundamental unity alone, relying on the instructions of others, driving a wedge between the body and the soul. But just as the ‘great breath’ that governs the cycle of everything, like the cosmos expanding and contracting, we too will reach our limitations of this divisive way and seek to bring worship home again. This is not about self-worship alone, but learning to revereall life, all creation in our own way, in places of our own choosing that does not dictate to others how and what they should do or believe.
And this would not do away with great teachings or spiritual teachers, who can always impart their wise words to those who wish to listen… but they would not be preaching at us, for there would be not need to force anything down anyone’s throat when what they speak of makes common sense, comes from experience and is based in something plausible and relevant, not scare mongering or at the expense of others. The best way to learn the great virtues of life is to live your life as best you can, to find what makes you happy and to avoid harm.
And to do this you don’t need to be in a special place, or use special words, or wear certain clothes… for your heart has no need for any of this to express itself. In living well, fulfilling all you are, be it as a mechanic, a mother, a school teacher, a doctor, an artist, a hairdresser or whatever you feel passionate about, in caring for yourself and those you care about, respecting yourself and others and in offering help when you can and not being led by ignorance or fear but by understanding and love, you are in reverence – you are a living act of worship. You are divinity itself and you do it all effortlessly and in harmony with life. All this without having to align yourself to any contrived doctrine that does little to facilitate a closer connection to creation, but rather seeks to keep you farther from it.
I do believe there is a limitless energy, a magnificent cosmic orchestration that has seen us flourish as beings on this perfect planet. But I cannot think, no matter how many scriptures and texts I read, or prayers I recant or offerings I make, or pilgrimages I undertake, or holy buildings I enter that there is anything that more eloquently demonstrates my gratitude and love for all that gives me this opportunity of experiencing what it is to be a divine spark in a physical body, than living my life with a smile and through my joy inspiring others to do the same.
(c) Kate Osborne, Solarus Ltd
First published in More to Life & More to Death magazines 2014
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