Only Sinners Make Peace
A new revelation is born when we grow so weary with the duties of religion that we drop them completely and awaken to the present moment. All the old stories and commandments fall away in the radiance of pure Presence. Revelation dawns when weariness with the past makes us bold. There is no revelation in history. Revelation is always now.
Now, we let go of old rituals and beliefs to investigate the simple phenomenon of awareness. We discover that all our suffering, which the old religion was supposed to alleviate, results from the mind's clinging to images of the past instead of resting in our innate awareness.
We abandon believing as a means of gaining spirituality, and simply rest in Presence, free from thought. Since this involves no doing at all, we let go of our spiritual practices. Yet the moment we relinquish these duties, a dazzling effulgence fills our soul, a blissful compassion warms our heart, and all the graces we sought through our religion now shower upon us. The light of grace that floods our being does not arise from any relationship whatsoever: with Jesus or Allah, Guru or God. There is no devotion to any holy Other outside our own refulgent self-awareness. The divine light arises unbidden as we simply rest in the ground of that Being whom we already are and have always been.
A bold man or woman who awakens in this manner innocently shares the experience with others, using the simplest language of daily life, free from the old religious terminology. Because the words of this awakened one arise from Presence, they are filled with life and power, transforming as any scripture.
People begin to listen to these words and follow them, as if they were rules of conduct. Of course, the words are not rules for future conduct; they are innocent expressions of a state already lived and experienced. Yet followers write the words down and these writings are regarded as holy texts. People not only repeat the words but imitate the deeds of the awakened one. Such imitations of life become rituals, though the deeds of the awakened one arose spontaneously, each appropriate to its occasion. Naturally, such rituals fail to bring lasting transformation, but this only convinces the followers that the awakened one must have been superhuman, an envoy from a higher world. So they continue to repeat those words and imitate those actions in hope of gaining some glimpse of the world from which the awakened one descended. Thus, through imitation of the past and subservience to the words of another, the followers exchange their innate freedom for the bondage of doctrine. This is how the spontaneous awakening of a human being is transformed into a new religion.
Now the awakened one is called Master and Savior. When the Master passes from the earth, followers continue to repeat the Master's words and deeds, regarding this repetition as true devotion, true service. To repeat the Master's actions and parrot the Master's words in a sanctuary or temple is the highest expression of what they call faith. Stepping outside the master's words, which the followers now interpret as laws, is called sin. If anyone actually discovers the true life of the Master by awakening just as the Master did, she is regarded as a heretic. Why? Because she lives spontaneously life in the present moment.
Those who would rather imitate the past will always condemn the one who awakens to Presence. In relation to religious tradition, one who is awake is always a sinner. Buddha was a sinful Hindu. Jesus was a sinful Jew. Muhammad was a sinful idol-worshiper. Luther was a sinful Catholic. George Fox, the first Quaker, was a sinful Protestant. If you wake up in the present moment and begin to live, you will be a sinner too!
Sooner or later, the followers of the Master encounter the followers of another Master. Because their rituals and holy texts are different, it is assumed that these Masters honored different gods. In fact, both Masters lived in precisely the same awareness, and expressed the same awakened Presence. But over time, their imitated words and deeds have been transformed into two different religions.
To each group of followers, the supreme duty is obvious: exterminate the rival religion. True Believers make war in the Master's name. War is the inevitable outcome of religious doctrine. Religious war is an irreconcilable conflict between two memories, two imitations of the past. But there is never such conflict between persons who live in the present moment. Because they were both awake in the Presence, Jesus and Muhammad would never have fought one another. Christians and Muslims make war because their minds are conflicted by memory and imitation.
Yet there is hope in war! Religious war is a sign that a cycle of ignorance has come to an end. The weariness of war leaves us no alternative but to awaken. Awakening to Presence, fear and aggression vanish.
We can end war by resting our awareness in the present moment. But we must be bold. We must be heretics and sinners to make peace. Our restful awareness threatens the True Believers, who are only interested in justifying the past. True Believers are bound to condemn all those who awaken, all those who peacefully abide in the grace of divine Presence.