I listen to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from a link sent to me by a friend. Yusuf reasoning about why people are avoiding organized religion and getting into mindfulness, spirituality or other practices without going to a church sounds appealing. But here is my take.
To me he is saying something like this: A person who has learned to Greek dance and has mastered the dance is allowedd to improvise. A person who has learned the rules of playing an instrument is allowed to improvise.Youtube: https://youtu.be/9DNA_z1dpWY
A play with words
If I connect his statement to practices of faith, it makes sense only from the perspective that faith (in any form) has rules, that once the rules are mastered, the practitioner of that faith is allowed to improvise.
It’s a play of words.
Faith and religion are two different labels of the conscious mind. They are not the same.
One exists in infinity or the eternal. The other exists in past or future time. Time is an imaged thing and only exists in the conscious mind. Keep reading and I will explain.
Religion can be mastered
Faith cannot be mastered. The universe cannot be mastered. Scientists now recognizes that the universe is larger than first believed. Remember reading in your history books, where philosophers believed the earth to be the center of the universe?
Infinity or the eternal cannot be mastered nor made into a practice.
Religion is encapsulated in practice and can be mastered in conscience thought applied to circumstances. In religious you know you have mastered it when a specific set of practices you’ve learned are easily applied to specific subset of life experiences.
In order for a specific practice to work. A controlled environment must be created. Otherwise they will not work.
Like a scientious trying to understand the affects of sound in water. He must control the environment where the tests are performed.
Why? So you he can prove what is true. If the tests and environment are consistent, the outcome will be the same.
The same works with religion. Othewise, the practice cannot be mastered.
In addition these practices must be written down (labeled) in something like a book so that the conscious mind can refer back to them as a reference point.
Faith is eternal
Faith, on the otherhand can never be mastered or written down because it has no description, no label and is connected to everything.
Faith denies nothing because everything is connected.
If I grow apples on a farm and do not feed anyone but myself. I am assuming that no one else is benefiting from that tree. The animals, birds, the bugs and the earth are benefiting from the tree. They are all connected.
If I through poison in the water. It may not be large enough to impact human beings, but it does hurt the earth in some way. There are many worlds on this planet and beyond.
There is the ant world. The bird world. The fish world and etc. A fish doesn’t see the world as an ant, and humans do not see the world as a bird does.
Play of words
When I say faith and religion are word play.
Like many other labels we make into words. Faith is not religion. You do not practice faith, you practice religion. Faith is not consciousness, religion is.
One is based on conscience thought (religion) and the other on “No Mind” (faith).
You don’t think faithously (if that is a word). You do think religiously.
One is written down in a book and the other is written in eternity.
One is timed based (horizonal time) and the other now (vertical time).
One is controlled by conscious thought and the other by “No mind”.
You cannot know eternity in conscious thought, because it doesn’t exist on this plane.
Eternity is not time
There is no time in NOW. There is only time in the past or future. Time exists only in conscious thought. The tree, birds, fish, animals do not use time and neither are they aware of time.
Because life always evolves, it exists in the NOW. Changes happen in the now. They do not happen in the past or future.
Eternity does not exist in past or future because there is no time in eternity.
Humans are aware of time when thought is applied to sense perceptions and experiences. A child is not aware of time and enjoys now.
Look at a child
A baby is not aware of time. When a child who doesn’t have past or future (time experiences) plays with another child and they fight. When things are settled and adults do not get involved, the child is back to playing with the other child. Why, the child is living in the present.
Life evolves through sense perceptions and experiences. This is how we grow as humans. When a person has more past experiences and live in the past, their presence in the now is altered. The past becomes the behavior of the present.
Go to the ant
We can learn from the ant, the tree, the earth, the sky and so on. But we only pay attention to our thoughts.
In order to practice ones religious beliefs, a person would have to ignore their BEING and the present. They would have to also ignore the sense perceptions and experiences that come with BEING. After that, they can use conscious, label things and pull the eternal out of eternity into time and then use them as a practice. This is how religions are formed.
Practiced beliefs can be read in a book, and finally mastered but only in a controlled environment. Labels must be created, restrictions must be applied. You will find that most religions ask their followers to give up this or that. Don’t think about this or that. Avoid this or that. Otherwise the practices will not work.
Faith isn’t a thought
Faith is not a thought. It has no time. When you practice a specific religion and walk outside of a controlled environment that you or others set up. The rules exists first in your conscious mind (like a controlled scientific lab).
The world is larger than a single controlled religious lab and you will encounter experiences and senses that aren’t described in your practice.
When a child is playing and are experiencing new things. They are excited. Learning, and connecting their senses to this thing they have no name for.
They don’t think about time. But, as they get older they become more conscious of time and they think about past and future more often as oppose to living in the now. Time only exists in the mind as past and future. You cannot live NOW and live in past or future. If you live in the past, you will the reality of past into the present, and with it bring fears, anxiety and pain with it.
Faith is not time based.
When I say time based I am speaking from the perspective of the eternal. The moment we try to understand eternity or infinity, we have to label it first and then compare it to something we know. The moment we do that we place that experience into time (past) and bring practices into this world.
In order for the conscious mind to understand it you give it a label which classifies it or create boundaries so that a practice can be made from it. You may not call it religion, but nevertheless it is a practice. Faith is not a practice. You cannot practice eternity.
The mention of sin
The other thing he mentions is sin, being tainted with the world and how religion is there to remove that taint.
That’s a subjective play of words.
Sin is a subjective label or word. The original writers of historical text used the word sin to encapsulates all the behaviors of the egoic or humanistic mind. The mind creates culture, traditions and other practices. In every country there are traditions and practices that maybe strange from one persons mind to another.
It is true that you can look at others and see behaviors that you compare in your mind and give it a label. After you do that it is easier to subjectively decide if the behavior is appropriate or not.
The world to overcome
But the world is consciousness living past or future in the present. When religious folks describe the world they should overcome, they mean the world that is not like their own.
As I mentioned before there are many worlds. But the world that Jesus described and that the writers of the new testament spoke about was not something around them. If you want to overcome the world as they put it. They tell describe to you what is appropriate to experience. That is the egoic mind trying to protect itself so that it can survive.
The world, as people describe it, is not an external thing. It is on the inside. The thing to overcome, in the world, is past and future thoughts.
Living in the present, living in the now and being aware consciously of now what is happening to you and responding appropriately to eternity is overcoming the world.
What is living in the now
Most people when they are eating are not thinking about the taste, maybe at first, but their thoughts are somewhere else. Somewhere in the past or future. They are by definition asleep. They are unconscious.
They maybe awakened by something that happens to them suddenly, like driving a car and someone suddenly cuts them off. Then they wake up. After they’ve said a few word. They go back to sleep, thinking about something from their past or future.
Living in the now is, for example, when an emergency happens. You are aware of nothing but the moment. You don’t care what happened in the past and you don’t care what should happen. Your focus is on dealing with now.
Why living in past or future is bad
In the past are experiences of: unforgiveness, failures, jealousy, abuse, and etc. There’s lots pain there. There is joy their too, but the egoic mind doesn’t care about them. He cares about protecting himself and surviving by making you believe that what he sees is happening now.
- This is where the egoic mind survives.
- The images that he shows you are things like:
- What someone did to you
- What you did to someone else
- Fear of this or that
- This pain is associated with this sickness
- I cannot do this or that because this happened or that happened
- I’m afraid I might loose this or that
These exists in the past.
Stop deceiving yourself
Jesus told you to stop deceiving yourself. When you think about past or future, you are deceiving your conscious mind to believe something in the future exists now.
Depending on what you are thinking, you heart rate can go up; anxiety or depression can enter the body and create pain.
The thought patterns that would allow a person to murder another human or millions of humans exists in the mind. Again, the egoic mind lives in past and future. Not in the Now. Do you have problem Now? Of course not. Your reading this.
You get anxiety when you are living in time (past or future). The egoic mind lives in constant fear and will do whatever is necessary to perserve it’s own existence, even at the expense of other humans.
What transformation truly is
A butterly is an amazing creature. As a worm, he crawls around living in the now. Seeking food when he is hungry and sleeping when he gets sleepy. He doesn’t think about the future. Oh! I gotta figure out how to fly, to be ready when I get my wings and he doesn’t practice how to crawl more efficiently. He just exists in being.
What is more amazing is when he becomes a butterly his life is in an entirely different world. He is no longer living in the world of crawling things. He has been completely transformed. Transformation. Everything is different. Even the food he eats. His entire perspective has changed. If he tries to function as a worm (that most of us try to do), it will not work, none of the worm functions are there (past), they no longer exists. If he tried to continue living as a worm, his mouth and digestion is different and cannot eat the same things. It just doesn’t work.
Religion can help people avoid certain behaviors, but they will not take the world of the egoic mind out of the person. Living in the present is where change happens; living in the now (infinity, eternity) and not time (past or future) is how we love one another and change the world. Living in the past or future is how the mind creates fear, distress, anxiety and pain for the body.