- The activity of worshipping
- A feeling of profound love and admiration
- Love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess; venerate as an idol
- how devotion to (a deity)
- Attend religious services
This topic is going to be a hard one for me to write because I don’t think I worship anything! I don’t go to church, or a mosque; I don’t go belong to a religious institution; I don’t have images of christ or vishnu on my walls; I have no statue of the buddha, and I have no altar, but that’s ok, because you probably do. So maybe you can help me understand why you worship a painting or a statue?
You say it is not the image that is important – because you know it is just a bronze statue or a painting made by Man, but what is behind the image – the unimaginable, the powerful, the almighty, the unquestionable.
I shouldn’t be surprised that people worship things. Since the dawn of Man, he has been afraid. He was afraid of the sun’s power, so he worshipped it. He was afraid of the stars, so he worshipped them, etc. And why wouldn’t he be afraid? Born into emptiness, with no knowledge of nature and the universe, he had no scientific evidence to show him he shouldn’t be afraid.
He saw the devastation that sun, wind and rain could do. Great floods, great droughts, great ice ages – he had reason to be afraid. He was out of his depth here, and he didn’t know how to control nature. So rather than trying to understand it, he supplicated himself in front of it. He made animal and human sacrifices to appease the “gods,” who were in fact, just nature at work, without design, without malice, without thought – but Man wasn’t to know that!
He thought he had offended the gods, so they brought great storms upon him, and he offered the only thing he had – no, not himself – other people! And if this didn’t appease them, he sacrificed more people and more animals. How was he to know that if he just waited, the storms would calm down!
Man has always been afraid of the unknown, and as the obsession with science has proved, it is his desperate desire to be free of the unknown that has driven him to explore the universe and all things in it. To explain the unexplainable.
But even now, when we know so much about the universe scientifically, it’s not enough for Man. In the past he had no way to explain the messages the prophets brought about gods wrath, and the ending of the world etc. So just in case the messages were true, he decides to keep worshipping, just in case god gets angry. Thankfully, in most countries, human sacrifices have stopped as governments became jumpy about their citizens being murdered (even if it was in a good cause), although animals are still regularly slaughtered for this purpose.
So why is man still afraid of the wrath of the gods? Well, because he can’t see god, and he can’t explain everything, and rather than accepting that we are all part of the universe, and understanding that worshipping is keeping us in a state of fear, rather than releasing us from it, we put up our altars, we place images on them and say: “worship or be damned!”
For such a supposedly intelligent species, it makes me uneasy to think we are praying to what is little more than someone’s interpretation of what this god looks like (whichever religion you support). Whether you worship allah, jesus christ or buddha (amongst others), it makes no difference. You are prostrating yourself in front of no more than a nice painting. Wouldn’t you agree?
How dare you insult our religion!
You will be damned, unbeliever!
You will spend all of eternity in hell!
So ok, some of you may now have thoughts racing round in your head about the nerve of this man who is no one, insulting us, and the god we worship. But can I ask you one question before you hang me from my neck until dead? Why do you worship something which you cannot see? What purpose does it serve? Will you be given eternal life?
Will you be offered a lifetime of wine and virgins to serve you? Or will it just be a beautiful place where you can float about looking angelic? If these places do exist, then why do you need to bother praying and worshipping to get in? Surely if god is the most powerful being in the universe, then he left space for everyone, not just those who say their prayers every day. Do you understand what I am trying to convey to you?
I do not want to offend the delicate thoughts in your mind, but if your parents and your teachers had not shown you how to pray, or taken you to the synagogue or the temple, would you go anyway and worship a statue? Of course you wouldn’t. If I showed you a bronze sculpture of myself, would you worship me? If your mother had a painting made of herself, would you sit in front of it every day, praying to be saved from eternal damnation? No, unless she made you do it from a young age, and told you you would endure terrible suffering in the next life if you didn’t.
You see, at the heart of it, we are terribly impressionable people, in that things make an impression on our mind, and if that impression is strong enough, and made at the right time, it stays with us forever.
I don’t care if I go to hell. I don’t care if I suffer the wrath of the gods, so why should you? Why not lead a compassionate and loving life here on earth, and let that be the end of it? If there is a day of judgement we will face it then, but if we have lived in service to others and loved our brothers and sisters like our own, then I’m sure even the most intolerant god would see fit to give you a pass, maybe even with distinction.
Remember, the most violent men on the planet worship god, but that is all show. They have been told that they should, or think that people will respect them because of it, but their lives reflect none of it. Kings and presidents have slain millions around the world in gods name. If I were god, I’d be saying: “Now wait a minute… I didn’t agree to this…”
Let us pray
From an early age, our parents and religious leaders have forced us into prayer.
“Remember to say your prayers every night before you go to bed.”
And it all seems fairly innocuous. “What harm can it possibly do?” the parents ask. But you are being conditioned, you are having the image of god imprinted on your brain, you are being brainwashed.
Did you ever choose to pray, or go to church? Perhaps, when you needed support, but generally, worshipping god starts at a young age, adults make sure of it, and anyone who doesn’t go is an unbeliever, a follower of satan, a moral bankrupt, and other pointless terms used to describe someone who doesn’t conform. But god doesn’t want you to do this. God didn’t come and ask you to do this. God, who cannot be described, did not threaten you, or make you afraid – Man himself did that.
Some people say that the act of worship makes them closer to god, but how do you know, have you investigated it for yourselves? You may feel better when worshipping, but it is fear that causes that. You feel fear, so you turn yourself over to a higher power because the books (written by Man) tell you you will be safe.
I can hear the rage building in you now.
“How dare he! How dare he!” but listen to yourselves, to your own mind. Why is it annoyed I have said these words? Is it because it is now conflicting with everything you believe in – with everything you are? Good, that’s promising! But let’s move away from religious worship for a moment to see if we can shine a light on this from a different angle.
Worshipping celebrities is a new phenomenon, although the practice of worship is not. We hang the images high above us on our walls, and we gaze longingly at them. I say celebrities, but what I am talking about is well known people.
My girlfriend’s mother has two huge posters on the lounge wall, one of che guevara (an argentine revolutionary leader who was fidel castro’s chief lieutenant in the cuban revolution; active in other latin american countries; was captured and executed by the bolivian army (1928-1967)), who for some reason, became an icon, even though he was, in essence, just a soldier, and marilyn monroe (united states film actress noted for sex appeal (1926-1962))
Now, whilst she cannot be said to be actively worshipping these icons, why does she have them hanging on her wall? She doesn’t have huge poster size pictures of her neighbour down the road on the wall! This can only be part of the human need to look up to someone greater than himself. A parent is never enough. This person must be beyond reproach, or as we said earlier, above questioning.
Pop stars and “heroes” of the screen can be seen on children’s walls, and whilst they physically replacing the religious icons, they do not replace the idea of being in awe (an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration) of someone they can never get close to, that they could only ever dream of meeting, because they are so wonderful.
Are they are so wonderful in real life? I’m not so sure, but it is the idea that makes people worship them, not the reality.
So on our little journey around the topic of worship, we can see that man has worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars, gods of the sea, and gods of love, through to the “one true god,” and finally, the gods of music, and the screen. Maybe it is just in our nature to worship beings we could never hope to be like, or things we are afraid of, or maybe I’m making a big mistake and am going to pay for it in the next life. But I won’t be worshipping anything in the near future. An image can never be greater than all that we are. It is but an image.
I am a member of one species of planet earth – alive, vibrant, seeking truth. I am part of the universe and the universe is part of me. I am. I am indivisible.
Who am I? Just another ordinary human being. Not worthy of worship, but then again, why would you worship me? Then again, why would you worship anybody? You are great. Powerful. Creative. You are universal, but at the same time individual. You are perfect.
Everything is in order.
by alan macmillan orr
‘the natural mind – waking up’