We don’t perceive reality. We see what we expect based on our worldview. However, our worldview can be tainted by religion. Religion becomes a mask which distorts our perception. Our belief conceals the truth about a lot of things.
The Mask of Religion
The larger our mask, and the longer we wear it, the less we can see and the harder it is to take off. Beliefs are the foundation of this face shield. This is a disguise which is nothing but a set of blinders which limit our ability to thinking and perceive. Confronting our illusions about why we wear it is the key to freedom of thought.
We become used to wearing this mask because it is an accepted part of our culture. If you have conversations with an imaginary friend, this is considered a sign of a serious mental illness. You could be admitted to a mental health institution. But, if you qualify this by telling them your imaginary friend is God, then everything is okay.
What is the difference between the two imaginary friends? One is named Susan and one named God? The one named Susan is considered a sign of mental illness. The one named God is a socially acceptable delusion.
“A delusion held by one person is a mental illness, held by a few is a cult, held by many is a religion.” — Robert Todd Carroll
The Mask of Belief Conceals the Truth
Religion becomes the invisible mask which operates via belief and faith. Belief and faith are tools which are used by religion to overcome rational thinking, because when you don’t have facts or valid evidence, you can substitute faith and belief. Ask them to believe and have faith in your premise, even though it lacks supporting evidence.
These tactics are used to control and brainwash groups of people. This a well-studied phenomena is social science.
Who or What’s in Control?
“The Ego, however, is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power because it lives in fear.” — Deepak Chopra
The Ego isn’t our enemy; it is the home of our personality and instincts that are necessary components of the mind. However, our culture turns this mechanism against us. It uses brainwashing and propaganda to keep us in fear. We learn to trust and believe the insanity. Our belief conceals the truth of how we allow them to control us.
“Here, I think, is another clue to finding true self and vocation. We must withdraw the negative projections we make on people and situations — projections that serve mainly to mask our fears about ourselves. We must acknowledge and embrace our own liabilities and limits.” — Parker J. Palmer
Inner Work as a Destructive Process
The barriers of faith and belief create a self-made prison which hinders our ability to use common sense and critical thinking skills. Breaking through these barriers and taking off this mask is intense inner work. Spiritual work is a destructive process. When you break down these walls, they come crashing down. The mask of belief conceals the truth of who we are. Wouldn’t a reasonable person want to have this knowledge?
““Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretence. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.” — Adyashanti
Unfortunately, many people are proud to live by faith and to exclude facts which contradict the tenets of their myths and superstitions. They enjoy exposure to self-hypnosis, which is how belief takes precedent over facts and logic. People learn not to trust the facts or what they see.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” — 2 Corinthians 5:7 New International Version
The Truth of The Observer
The “real you” is the person you talk to inside your heads. It’s the aspect of consciousness which ancient traditions called spirit, soul, or the Observer. This intrinsic expression of our awareness should not be confused with our personality and instincts, which are simply elements of our Ego. Our Ego is a necessary tool of awareness that connects our bodies to the Observer.
The Observer is our truth, our essence. It is the person you talk to inside your head. The real us is what some call spirit, soul, or Source. “Source” is the underlying consciousness in everything. You’ve probably heard the statements, We are one, We are all connected.
Many religions and philosophies contain theories about what we are and why we’re here. These theories and legends are found in stories enshrined in holy texts, and these stories follow the same pattern Joseph Campbell (1) calls the Hero’s Journey. It’s a typology that you’ll find in cultures around the world. It is based on the basic human desire to investigate things.
“You are the observer who watches your emotions as they push, pull, and stretch you.” — Bryant McGill
If we direct this need to investigate, we are following this pattern. The tools we use to do this are what we call spiritual technologies.
We can understand oneness intellectually, but it is another thing to experience it firsthand. When we are fully present, and experiencing the beauty of oneness, the Observer is in the driver’s seat instead of Ego. It puts us in contact with the Source of pure consciousness. Presence allows the Observer to come out of the background.
The Process of Confronting Our Illusions
Inner work methods help us see and understand the subconscious mind tour ego. It helps us see the thought scripts and values that run beyond the conscious thought. The mask of belief conceals the truths we seek. It doesn’t matter what you believe; engaging your opinions about reality is a good thing. The ability to see beyond or through our worldview sets us free.
“Truth is too simple for us: we do not like those who unmask our illusions.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Strange as it seems, many people do not want to be set free. They like their mask so much that they fight to keep it on.
Wearing Mythology as a Mask
The mask of religion does not want us confronting our illusions which it creates. Fairy tales and legends become the basis for controlling the mind. If you can get people to believe in talking snakes, and living in the belly of a whale, you can get them to accept anything. Faith and belief conceals the truth about the motives of religion. It does not want us to investigate its origins and how it becomes our sacred ground.
We also need to investigate our sacred ground because religion comes in to program our values with mythologies and superstitions. Myths are the most destructive when religion mistakes them for truth. It’s an attempt to make faith perform as knowledge. So, religion becomes yet another mask.
“The late proceedings of those daring invaders to establish a national religion have opened the eyes of all lovers of liberty and religion… I have been told they have thrown off the mask. They are preaching to the people to elect none but godly men to represent them in the General and State Legislatures; … what they mean by godly people, is people of their own stamp… — Anne Royall
The path of truth is a lifelong journey. As we learn to discern the facts from fiction, that mask comes off a little more. Even revealing part of our true self makes a life-changing shift possible. The modification allows us to see other possibilities. Now we can perceive the deceptions of our worldview. Once we can see them, we can begin confronting our illusions.
Seers and Shaman teach us that other levels of reality exist. These are processes that expand awareness. Most people are born with access to three states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and sleeping. However, the dominant Western cultural narrative does not want you to seek these possibilities. They want to keep paying customers. It’s all about control.
The cultural narrative is a powerful tool. Those who control it can dictate values and thinking of a society. They create the mask of belief. Belief conceals their tactics of control.
There are three religions which control much of the cultural folklore of the world are the Abrahamic or Semitic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (2). Their myths and superstitions are the bedrock of Western culture, which shows up in values and laws.
“One man’s myth is another man’s religion.” — Joseph Campbell
The Abrahamic systems give religion a bad name, and not all religions are harmful. There are some, like Taoism and Paganism, which encourage free-thinking, collaboration and community. Similarly, there are religious traditions in the East who are responsible for protecting and preserving many of the most effective methods for exploring consciousness. Many of these systems encourage the development of your path.
Western organized religion imposes the most boundaries and restrictions. Their sectarian ideologies dictate values and thought. They have an adverse affect your ability to use logic and reason. So, they restrict our ability to move beyond the boundaries they set.
“Much of what is called Christianity has more to do with disguising the ego behind the screen of religion and culture than any real movement toward a God beyond the small self, and a new self in God.” — Richard Rohr
However, believers of these paradigms don’t view their religion as mythology. They admit it contains many myths, but they believe in its divine inspiration. You can point out errors in fact and logic until midnight. Unless they can admit to at least one of these problems, they will remain staunch believers. It’s a testament to the power of groupthink manipulation. These tactics can override our instincts and free will. Their masks are firmly in place.
Only by confronting our illusions can we move beyond their boundaries. This kind of confrontation isn’t easy, because it means facing our fears. There are some excellent tools which can help us remove the mask of religion, mythology and superstition. They allow us to engage the Observer rather than running on autopilot. These are what we can spiritual technologies.
Many ancient cultures were focused on investigating the mind and the unknown. These pioneers found and cataloged the most efficient ways to unlock the doors of consciousness.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
We must understand, the mask of belief conceals the truth. This delusional thinking is the basis of the control used by organized religion. Moving beyond the barriers of mythology is a goal of a true spiritual warrior. Confronting our illusions is the only way to see beyond our current worldview.
Likewise, we understand that leaving behind falsehoods is just as essential as grasping the truths. Once you can remove your mask, you’ll find that your “personal truth” is the most important truth you will discover.
We know not everyone will agree with the points of this discussion, but we hope it inspires your own research. The hideous mask of religion justifies everything from discrimination to genocide. We can no longer afford to allow delusional thinking to control the world.
(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia