Is Western organized religion just spiritual junk food?
Before we jump into the analogy of religion as fast-food spirituality, let’s look at the concept of spirituality.
The Context of Spirituality
Spirituality can be confusing. The term spirit refers to the human Spirit or Soul. People use these words to make things sound “spiritual.” People use them to describe almost everything in the human condition. For example, some people say eating hot spicy food is a spiritual experience.
We overuse the term spirituality. So, it’s essential to pay attention to context. Spirituality is the realm of Mystics, Seers, and Shaman. Seers operate apart from organized religion of any kind. So religions adopt these gifted individuals when they can. If they can’t, then they burn them as heretics or Witches.
Nature is the basis of religion. The earliest forms of Paganism and Animism used analogies and metaphors to explain the universe. The creation stories are metaphors attempting to explain what they didn’t understand. Animals and nature became a part of the narrative where anthropomorphic entities became the gods. They also began exploring consciousness, developing Shamanism’s ancient processes exploring the spirit world.
Not all religions are fast-food spirituality. Some are valuable assets to society. Some ancient traditions helped preserve and safeguard the processes for reaching higher consciousness states. Hinduism, Taoism, and Paganism contain examples of these processes. You can trace every form of meditation to indigenous cultures. These explorers developed what we know today as the scientific process. You can also trace modern medicine to these ancient pioneers.
Religion and Spirituality
Most people live in cultures dominated by Western organized religion’s cultural narrative. These are the Abrahamic religions (1) of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They try hard to associate their faith in imaginary friends with spirituality. However, these systems lack any processes for the development of human potential.
Through and through, they are nothing but the rebranding of the mystery religions from the Meditrainan region. There is nothing new or original, it’s all plagiarized and renamed, but it’s the same mythology and superstition from ancient Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, and Persia. All borrowed all the doctrines of Gods and Devils, all the tactics to gain and retain members through fear.
“Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflection’s and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet-smelling incense, of flowers and white vestitures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907)
They work hard to sell the idea that their doctrines, superstitions, and ceremonies make their religion spiritual. They tell us everything spiritual must come from them. Otherwise, it is considered evil at the same time demonizing the sources of their mythology.
In these religions, cultural programming starts early in life. Children have no choice but to learn what their parents present. People in crisis also fall prey to their bait and switch tactics.
When people are going through an emotional crisis, they are vulnerable. It makes them susceptible to self-hypnosis and group hypnosis manipulation tactics. People who have emotional issues need support and answers. Organized religion provides counterfeit solutions for a price. These religions make brainwashed followers paying customers. Ask them for money, and they will tell you to pray, but you better have something for the offering plate to keep in good standing.
Intelligence isn’t a barrier to the effects of this type of programming. The longer you expose yourself, the more likely the programming will affect you. Groupthink manipulation is a powerful tool of propaganda. These religions have three primary concerns:
1. Mandatory membership and allegiance to a Supreme Being
2. The justification for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and values
3. Required belief in the afterlife, or life after death with either rewards or punishment
These concerns are the counterfeit substitutes for developing your path. They are sold to create a cash flow system.
What is Spiritual Junk Food?
Western organized religion is fast-food spirituality in several ways. Just like fast food, there are many retail outlets available. There are many churches, mosques, and other religious structures. And, just like fast food, organized religion tastes good to the Ego.
But religion has no spiritual nutrition. It is absent processes for exploring consciousness. That’s why you must keep returning every week. Overall, you would need to admit these religions cannot show they have positively impacted the world. You’ll find Western religion at the heart of many wars and current ongoing conflicts. Faith is not a solution but a cause of human suffering. More people are starving, going without clean water or shelter, while these religions display their gold and priceless art.
Why do many people conclude Western religion is the fast food of spirituality? It seems like it is the root cause of many of the world’s inequities, persecutions, and conflicts. Religion divides. It does not bring people together, so it leads many freethinkers to view Westernized religion as spiritual junk food.
Like fast food, religion is habit-forming. It promises to fill the need it can never meet, and this requires you to keep coming back. But, organized religion doesn’t provide much practical help, except for publicity purposes. Unfortunately, the all-powerful God still needs your money. That’s why they need your continued financial support to keep your afterlife pass from expiring. However, dogma and doctrine can not meet spiritual needs. Afterlife promises are not an adequate answer for fear of death. Religious principles justify everything from genocide to genital mutilation.
Many of the most influential teachers tell us not to follow organized religion. In the New Testament, Jesus was a Jewish scholar, not a Christian. He sought enlightenment alone in the wilderness, not in a Church. Muhammad was not a Muslim. Both of them taught that you need to leave organized religion and find your path. Instead of inspiring freedom from religion, their followers created religions in their name. It makes you wonder.
So, above all, learn to grow your “own” spiritual food. Learn to research ideas outside your current belief system. Learn how to grow your “own” nutritious spiritual food. Skip the fast-food spirituality of Western religion.
How Spirituality and Religion Differ
In contrast, for many others being spiritual means living life means exhibiting the higher virtues of the spirit. It’s not what you believe but what you do with your life that counts. It’s not about being part of an exclusive club.
It is commercialized religion that doesn’t even bother to hide that it’s all about the money.
“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!
But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!” ― George Carlin
“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer… Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?” ― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin, and
Instead, it is about promoting equity and equality for all people. We think spirituality is about using processes to explore consciousness. It’s not about memorizing doctrine or pretending you have an imaginary friend. It’s about doing serious inner work that transforms you into a better person, which is the domain of what we call spiritual exploration.
“Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We were often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of “Christian” countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I’m afraid.” ― Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps
It is incredible how so many people become addicted to fast-food spirituality. It does not satisfy the spiritual need to explore and develop their potential. If you dine on spiritual junk food, you must return repeatedly. Your spiritual hunger remains, but all they have is unnutritious dogma.
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(1) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia