THE SECOND TEMPTATION
With perhaps the exception of the two last centuries, God has fascinated mankind. Religion is about feeling it. Feeling God means feeling love as energy and not as an emotion: this is a difference that is best discovered through Self realization. Without settling in the realized state, followers of the religion experience a double frustration: they cannot absorb the desired level where divine love becomes a state and then they witness their fellow devotees distorting the pursuit of God by organizing the religion that they are struggling to establish.
Hence, instead of confessing failure, - missing the fulfillment of the longed for deeper union – those who approach God through an intensity of desire displace their focus towards what they can emotionally grasp: they create a sense of exclusiveness, an artificial proximity to their goal by bestowing upon themselves the status of the chosen ones: the only true believers are obviously better and above those who fall for the First Temptation. The blazing fire that is fueled by this conviction compels them to convince the ignorant and the lukewarm and to despise those who do not conform.
This is the Second Temptation.
Let us call those of us who fall for it “the fundamentalists”.
Fundamentalists see religion as bringing together the unity of the human tribe by eliminating those who are unworthy. Fundamentalists oppose the externalists but, beyond them, attack whosoever does not rally their banner.
History documents how fundamentalists denaturize the religion. They protest the deviations of the First Temptation, so they activate the conflict that the externalists had programmed and they do not know where or when to stop. They shoot on everything that moves, unable to distinguish between friends and foes.
Religion is about love but fundamentalists love… to hate! Soon the story of religion which is about union is turned in its contrary and spelled as a tale of hatred. Fundamentalists tend to experience wrath as an emotion and express their emotions as wrath. This triggers a process of radicalization. “Bang,” here come the Jihadists !
Islamic and Christian mystics are seen as a dangerous competition by the fundamentalists of both religions. This is normal. Their existence obscurely reminds the fanatics of what they fail to achieve: the living inner religion. Those who pursue genuine spirituality must withdraw in order not to be bullied. Mystics are seen with suspicion because they do not submit to the fundamentalists’ chain of command.
The Second Temptation seduces the strong willed, the impulsive and the rebel. Fundamentalists do not accept authority but have no problem whatsoever in asserting their own. They do so usually in designing the portrait of an enemy to be denounced and they find in their fight their raison d’etre . Hamas needs the ultra orthodox Jews and vice versa; those who are lost in the middle are the reasonable Jews and Palestinians.
All the emotions and fury does not bring closer to the stated goal which is proximity to God but if they confess it, they lose their meaning. Thus intolerance and blindness make it difficult for them to escape the compelling force of their own lies. Religious fundamentalism starts in the left side of emotion, and a few centuries and crimes later, it ends in the right side of belligerency and fanaticism.
The fundamentalist model is violent because the end justifies the means. Violence is mostly verbal: they vociferate, defame or abuse. Nevertheless, as witnessed in the wars of religion, violence cannot be stopped and becomes physical (ref. the history of Protestants and Shiites.) Jihadists espouse the eschatological scheme of the end of history and fancy themselves as riding behind the Mahdi or the angels of the apocalypse, whenever they have enough culture to know that such a thing was ounce described.
Over time however the creation of the fundamentalists is not sustainable because it burns like a straw fire. It is better at destroying than at building and, eventually, something else must be born out of these ashes.
The Second Temptation overpowers those who want to find a religious meaning that had been eroded by the mischief of the externalists; (see the previous text on the First Temptation). A crowd whose passion has been inflamed shall adopt the fallacy of indiscriminate anger, frustration and resentment. It bows to those who shall tell them to oppress others in the name of a God of love.
In times of hardship, the resilience of fundamentalism is strengthened because its fire is fueled by the intense emotions and desire of many sincere followers that see the dire need for change, ready to bend all their will and energies to merit the privilege of coming closer to God. In modern times, the story goes on because the Second Temptation feeds on times of hypocrisy and injustice as is now the case. Fundamentalism manifests through its extreme jihadist expression but also through the marketing savvy of charismatic leaders who exploit the emotions of those seeking comfort or refuge in spiritual communities.
At times, externalists and fundamentalists make deals to share the seats of power and control. God has left. No one notices. No one bothers. A deal is a deal; politics is at its best and religion at its worst. Twentieth century ideologies can be seen sometimes as a secular version of this combined model.
What is the antidote to the Second Temptation?
The antidote is to move from the predominant reliance on impulses and emotions and to dare making use of the brain which, after all, is an organ that God gave us for some purpose. When the heart aligns with the brain, a cognitive balance is created that opens the path to true knowledge.
If God is termed as Truth, Consciousness and Bliss, the sequencing of these words is important. People must verily recognize that hate is not the way to love and that violence cannot bring peace. It was the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi to show that a way can be found even at the political level. He was, of course, killed by a fanatic.
Gnostics can help fundamentalists by forgiving them because hate feeds on hate and forgiveness breaks the vicious cycle; if this food is withdrawn, the rage reduces.
This is why Mahayoga (initiated by kundalini awakening) is the final antidote to fundamentalism because it transcends religious emotive motivations. Thoughts and feelings are merged in the higher cognitive fusion of meditation (nirvichara sammadhi, inner silence). True knowledge would discover love as an all inclusive state, above reason and emotion. This unique and spontaneous discovery automatically turns the consciousness back to the path of the true inner religion. Or does it?