Encounter in Nineveh
It is truly amazing to read how a road map exists for creating religions. How the same roadmap can be used to create world class businesses which will last for centuries by swapping disciples for managers, commandments for principles and weekly sermons for continuous training. I found all that and much more in this inspirational book published recently under the title Encounter in Nineveh, A Route to Personal Enlightenment. The book was written in the form of dialogue between Alien Holograms & a comatose man escaping from the American bombs in a cave in the ruins of biblical Nineveh in the spring of 2003,
Below is a short extract during a dialogue covering the above aspect.
“Mac looked at Abraham bewildered to hear that a religion has a road map and asked, ‘Why did Abraham come up with a monolithic faith yet he did not call for the establishment of religious institutions and practices? He must have known what could go wrong once he introduced these Earthly processes. It is Moses who was brought up by the Pharos of Ancient Egypt who introduced the structure of a formal religion to survive for centuries to come as was the practice at that time. I need you to expand on that please.’
Abraham replied, ‘Mac, you are absolutely correct. Many things could go wrong with formal religious institutions. Abraham had known that Mankind would be the poorer if he established a formal religion due to the rigidities and intolerance it would bring with it. On the positive side, without such institutions, faiths and beliefs would be fragmented and they will not serve as a unifying force in the society for a long time. This is a very vast subject and I will try to be very brief on the pros and cons of this matter.’
Abraham seemed animated as he explained the pros and cons of turning faith into structured religion.
‘Let me first start with the common moral messages among all religions and their minor variations. Why do these variations exist? Why must the principle of evolution be applied to all religions, as is the case with all living organisms as planned by the creator to survive? I will also explain the reasons why all religions need to be updated continuously to meet the needs of humanity at large and why discriminations based on faith must be condemned in the strongest terms.
‘By now you know Mac that humans have evolved as intelligent beings with some minor imperfections which we term the devil within. It is not important to our teaching whether this intelligence had evolved gradually or if it was genetically engineered by visiting aliens to planet Earth. The human brain was completely redesigned to have the frontal lobe during the last 70,000 years. The purpose of the frontal lobe is to act as a simulator to deal with all the abstract matters whether likely or unlikely to happen. This is a very short period in comparison with the millions of years all living organisms have been evolving on this planet according to God’s original plan laid down in the science and technology manual stored at nano level in the original seeds of life.’
Darwin noticed the shock on my face on hearing that we may have been genetically upgraded by some visiting aliens. ‘Mac, whether intelligence has evolved on Earth as planned in accordance to the original seeds of life, or evolution was speeded up due to visiting aliens is not important. What does matter for our discussion is that Mankind has his frontal lobe.’
Abraham asked if I would like to make any comments before he continued.
I replied, ‘I don’t know where to start. Let me ask one question at a time. I detected that you were unhappy about religions’ rigidities. They have ended up, in some cases, to be destructive by galvanizing actions to commit injustices. The original message must have been to focus on instilling ethical values and to ensure that they evolve with time to remain relevant and to give true joy derived from good deeds and spirituality.’
Abraham looked at his colleagues and said, ‘Mac, you speak as if you were with us when the decision was made to organize this encounter. We are here exactly for this objective. We hope to call for less emphasis on what differentiates various religions and more on good deeds, creativity, and purity of spirit. Let me explain in some detail.’
‘Undoubtedly all Divine messengers focused on morality, spirituality, and virtues. This was necessary to build societies and provide the basis for acceptable human conduct. All new Divine messages emphasized the omnipotent aspect of God and the concept of rewards and punishments. Heaven and Hell were necessary to ensure adherence to ethical conduct within each human being. Some religions put greater emphasis on forgiveness and love. Others put greater emphasis on punishment, not only in this life but also beyond the grave. The different approaches have substantial differences on the behaviors of the followers of each religion. After all, without the perceived pain and pleasure associated with Hell and Heaven there would be no lasting faith.’
Abraham continued, ‘At the very early stages of receiving a new Divine message, it was discovered that human beings abide by the moral codes for a while and then their adherence gets weakened. The devil within, i.e. the human desire to dominate and indulge in the pursuit of worldly pleasures become stronger, and keeping to the straight and narrow path becomes more challenging. This has led to the need to send other messengers to correct the situation. To overcome this short-term adherence to the moral code, a new approach was borrowed from previous civilizations. This lead to the founding of formal religions with established institutions to ensure the continuous adherence to the original message. Moses, having been brought up in the house of the Pharaohs, brought with him such experience. This combination of institutional structures to keep and protect Divine messages lies at the heart of religious rigidities. For thousands of years many successive dynasties of the Pharaohs ruled Egypt by regarding their entire pronouncements as the words of the Lord. They had religious institutions to enforce that belief.’
Therefore, the stages to convert faith into formal religion are:
1) Prophet: You must have a very strong, charismatic, and ethical messenger who comes with a new vision addressing the negative issues experienced by the society at that time. This is why the greater the death and destruction afflicting any society, the greater the need for a messenger to appear with a new moral code to act as their savior.
2) Paradigm Shift: The new messenger would not usually be accepted or permitted to challenge existing beliefs unless there is a paradigm shift in the thinking of those being addressed. Sometimes, the use of real or perceived miracles assists in this paradigm shift. This is especially the case if the followers of the prevailing faith are drowned in the darkness of rigidity, ignorance, and intolerance. They usually have no confidence in the superiority of their arguments and resort to force to stop the flow of ideas. In most cases, a civil war will erupt until one set of values prevail over the others.’
‘The other reason for challenging new ideas of faith is the established religious institutions. For example, this is what happened during the inquisitions in Europe. Those were the darkest times for that continent. Today, some Muslim minorities are adopting similar tactics used by the inquisitionist during the dark ages to force many Muslim societies to adhere to their interpretation of the faith. I tell you Mac, wars and bloodshed will be widely prevalent in the next twenty years. This is why we feel it is time for a paradigm shift as humanity is fed up with religious excesses. The more people realize that the religious extremists are failing them the more likely it is that the new message of tolerance and compassion will be accepted. It is the duty of every freethinking person, no matter what belief system he holds, to reject the damage extremists from all faiths are doing to peaceful co-existence on this planet. Brave are those who fight injustices with the power of conviction and love.’
Plato interrupted, ‘Those who live in moderation, choose life and those who choose luxury and extremism choose death and destruction.’
‘3) Vision. The messenger must come with great vision to ensure salvation of the whole world. Without a clear vision accompanied with a burning passion, the message will not get to the heart of the people. For example, the visions we see: “for humans to live creatively in peace, for wisdom to accumulate through the generations and for love and prosperity to be shared with others”. The righteous among humans would be rewarded by receiving eternal life. Through meditation and prayers, a channel of communicating with the DD will be established to achieve true spiritual experiences.
4) Commandments: The visions must have principles or commandments to deliver true salvation. The vision and principles are in effect, the moral code or the “straight and narrow” path of every religion. More on this will follow.
5) Disciples: For the messenger to succeed, he must have Disciples. In all established religions, it is the disciples who ensured the spread and success of the delivery of the message. This is especially true in the case of Christianity. This may be the reason why Christianity is nearest to meet the need of its followers. It was tailored by a group of theologians to ensure that what was included in the gospel, would be of practical use and easy to understand. Knowing that the Gospel has been put together by man has also made its interpretation more flexible so that it can evolve with time.
6) Continuous Learning: For any faith to last the test of time there must be continuous learning to ensure that the message is not forgotten or diluted. To ensure that this is the case, a weekly sermon by trained men must be instituted. Synagogues, churches, mosques and other places of worship were built to ensure continuous learning. Preachers must continuously update their message to respond to the changing needs of their followers if they want to remain relevant to the need of the group. Religious edicts which are written in stone, risk becoming irrelevant with the passage of time. This is especially the case when those who interpret the faith are inflexible and have drowned in ignorance, rigidity, and intolerance. Unfortunately, over time, many of the existing religions have failed the test of continuous renewal; hence, the need for a new approach has become inevitable. This is why Jesus did not give humanity a written Holy Book but left it to his disciples and theologians to interpret his sayings and deeds to fit the need of the Christian community.
7) Rituals: All religions develop rituals to support the faith. These rituals give the faith its unique identity and let the group create a sort of brotherhood. The greater the intolerance and the impatience at the time of delivering the Divine message, the more likely the religion will include demanding rituals. The objective is to spend more time rewiring their brains and to have less time for temptations. The rituals usually give rise to great social values in providing a platform for the interaction with other individuals of the same faith in addition to its spirituality. Therefore, in theory at least, prayers and pilgrimage are done in places of worship to get the followers of the faith closer together. In current commercial language, the rituals are the same as product branding.
8) Culture: Traditions are added to the rituals. These are usually a combination of religious celebrations, practices associated with birth, marriage, death, and legacy traditions. All these supplement the rituals and the commandments to give the followers of the religion their unique identity or branding. Most traditions are relics of the cultures before the messenger gets his Divine message. It should be remembered that every religion is made of less than 10% from new Divine messages and the rest are adaptations taken from the prevailing culture or borrowed from other faiths. Some religions cover all aspects of human life and regulate their activities in minute details making adaptation and change rather difficult.
9) Reward and Punishment: Humans need to be motivated to perform tasks. Religion has achieved this objective by creating a perceived reward and punishment stronger than any real ones. Fear of punishment is a strong barrier to committing bad deeds while Heavenly rewards are great motivation to be virtuous. There would be no religion or faith without this principle. It is often said the fear of God is at the heart of wisdom.
10) Money: All religions encourage the act of giving to religious institutions and to the poor. This is a blessing when it is used as intended and a curse when it is abused. The powers of the religious institutions are derived from the moral hold they have on their followers. They often issue edicts or fatwa to influence behaviors.’
I looked at Abraham bewildered to hear that a religion has a road map and asked, ‘Why did Abraham come up with a monolithic faith that did not call for the establishment of religious institutions and practices? He must have known what could go wrong once he introduced these Earthly processes. I need you to expand on that please.’