‘Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’,

13 B  Religions try to show how people can strive to make a better life for themselves and their fellow human beings. They should be applauded for it. It is just that there is a huge difference between the time when religions started and the present day.

Rituals, the worship of symbols and gods provide modern man with the tools to return to the source. There is nothing wrong with that, in case the rituals and worship are sincere and considered meaningful.

They should not be carried out for the sake of tradition and culture, because that is the way in which it was always done, while the true meaning got lost under a layer of dust and mannerism. Religion then continues into the future as an empty shell.

Often the form, or rules, and extent of worship have gained such prominence that the prophet’s principles have become unclear and mixed with pageantry and power. Since prophets preached a life of sobriety which was governed by the adage of ‘Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’, excessive emphasis on pageantry and admiration does not comply with their principles.

To many people religious form is more important than religious substance. Tangible pageantry is preferred over a sober and clear application of a religion’s founding principles. It is easier to impress your environment with a show of piety through pageantry (golden images, temples, cathedrals, etc.) and ignore essential religious principles because they stand in the way of profit and comfort.

This kind of religious emptiness and mannerism plays a prominent part in many religions. The good and worthy part of religion is expressed in words. In deeds, the founding principles of good behaviour are ignored in favour of profit and comfort.

This takes place at all levels of a religion’s hierarchy. A façade is supported that remains recognisable as a religion, while behaviour is shown that does not comply with that same religion’s principles. The original source of a religion becomes unclear in the course of history.

The main principles of religions approach those of the spirit. Religions show praise and respect for God and His creation. The rules of conduct prescribed by religions show people the way to responsible behaviour and compassion for man, animals and nature.

Humanity errs from this path, which is understandable for it is hard to live God’s example; along the way there is much temptation into bad and egotistical behaviour. The same applies to the spirit, but with a different charge. It is less oriented towards a god as an explanatory mystery, but more scientifically oriented. It bridges the gap between spiritual and scientific approaches to the questions of life.