Sunday, January 4, 2015

Written by Steve Pavlina on his site |

While consciously pursuing your spiritual development is 

commendable, joining an established religion such as Christianity, 

Islam, or Hinduism is one of the worst ways to go about it. In this 

article I’ll share 10 reasons why you must eventually abandon the 

baggage of organized religion if you wish to pursue conscious 

living in earnest.

1) Spirituality for dummies

If you have the awareness level of a snail, and your thinking is 

mired in shame and guilt (with perhaps a twist of drug abuse or 

suicidal thinking), then subscribing to a religion can help you climb 

to a higher level of awareness. Your mindset, however, still 

remains incredibly dysfunctional; you’ve merely swapped one form 

of erroneous thinking for another.

For reasonably intelligent people who aren’t suffering from major 

issues with low self-esteem, religion is ridiculously consciousness-

lowering. While some religious beliefs can be empowering, on the 

whole the decision to formally participate in a religion will merely 

burden your mind with a hefty load of false notions.

When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-

think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to 

discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t 

accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes 

on your continued conscious development. Religion is the off-

switch of the human mind.

Your own intellect is a better instrument of spiritual growth than 

any religious teachings.

2) Loss of spiritual depth perception

One of the worst mistakes you can make in life is to attach your 

identity to any particular religion or philosophy, such as by saying 

“I am a Christian” or “I am a Buddhist.” This forces your mind into 

a fixed perspective, robbing you of spiritual depth perception and 

savagely curtailing your ability to perceive reality accurately. If 

that sounds like a good idea to you, you’ll probably want to gouge 

out one of your eyeballs too. Surely you’ll be better off with a 

single, fixed perspective instead of having to consider two separate 

image streams… unless of course you’ve become attached to stereo 


Religious “truths” are inherently rooted in a fixed perspective, but 

real truth is perspective-independent. When you substitute religious 

teachings for truth, you mistake shadows for light sources. 

Consequently, you doom yourself to stumble around in the dark, 

utterly confused. Clarity remains forever elusive, and the best 

answer you get is that life is one giant mystery. Religious 

mysteries, however, arise not from what is truly unknowable; they 

arise from the limitations of trying to understand reality from a 

fixed frame of reference.

A more intelligent approach is to consider reality through a variety 

of different perspectives without trying to force your perceptions 

into an artificial religious framework. If you wish to learn more 

about this approach, read Spiritual Depth Perception.

3) Engineered obedience training

Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your 

free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give 

away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating 

people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless 

minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as 

such, but this is essentially how they operate.

Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. 

They’re among the most powerful instruments of social 

conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own 

intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some 

external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Of 

course these instruments are usually controlled by those who 

administrate the minion training program, but they don’t have to 

be. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to 

something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be 

weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively 

promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly 

branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is 


Religions strive to fill your head with so much nonsense that your 

only recourse is to bow your head in submission, often quite 

literally. Get used to spending a lot of time on your knees because 

acts of submission such as bowing and kneeling are frequently 

incorporated into religious practice. Canine obedience training uses 

similar tactics. Now say, “Yes, Master.”

Have you ever wondered why religious teachings are invariably 

mysterious, confusing, and internally incongruent? This is no 

accident by the way — it’s quite intentional.

By putting forth confusing and internally conflicting information, 

your logical mind (i.e. your neocortex) is overwhelmed. You try in 

vain to integrate such contradictory beliefs, but it can’t be done. 

The net effect is that your logical mind disengages because it can’t 

find a pattern of core truth beneath all the nonsense, so without the 

help of your neocortex, you devolve to a more primitive (i.e. 

limbic) mode of thinking. You’re taught that this faith-based 

approach is a more spiritual and conscious way to live, but in 

reality it’s precisely the opposite. Getting you to distrust your own 

cerebral cortex actually makes you dumber and easier to 

manipulate and control. Karl Marx was right when he said, 

“Religion is the opiate of the people.”

For example, the Old Testament and the New Testament in the 

Bible frequently contradict each other with various rules of 

conduct, yet both are quoted during mass. You aren’t meant to ever 

make sense of them since that would defeat the whole purpose.

If you want to talk to God, then communicate directly instead of 

using third-party intermediaries. Surely God has no need of an 

interpreter. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a mindless minion. 

It’s a mistake to think that turning off your neocortex and 

practicing mindless “faith” will bring you closer to God.

4) Toilet-bowl time management

If you devote serious time to the practice of religion, it’s safe to say 

you practice toilet-bowl time management, flushing much of your 

precious life down the drain with little or nothing to show for it.

First, you’ll waste a lot of time filling your head with useless 

nonsense. This includes reading some of the worst fiction ever 

written. Then there are various rules, laws, and practices to learn..

Next, you can expect to waste even more time on repetitive ritual 

and ceremony, such as attending mass, learning prayers, and 

practicing unproductive meditations.

If I add up the time I attended mass and Sunday school, studied 

religion in school as if it were a serious subject, and memorized 

various prayers, I count thousands of hours of my life I’d love to 

have back. I did, however, learn some important lessons, many of 

which are being shared in this article.

5) Waste of money

In addition to being a serious waste of time, religious practice can 

also be a huge waste of money.

For starters when you donate to a major religion, you support its 

expansion, which means you’re facilitating the enslavement of your 

fellow humans.  If you feel the urge to donate money, give it to a 

real and honorable cause, not a fabricated one. Better yet, go 

outside and do something yourself that really helps people. If you 

can’t think of anything better, grab a can of paint and clean up 

some local graffiti.

Your religious donations fund freeloaders who mooch off society 

but who generally provide little or no value in return. Sure there are 

some religious people who perform valuable public services, but 

for the most part, that isn’t their bailiwick. These freeloaders 

typically operate tax-free, meaning they’re effectively subsidized 

by taxpayers. That’s a great racket if you’re on the receiving side… 

not so great if you’re funding it though.

Would you seriously consider this sort of structure a “good cause” 

worthy of your hard-earned cash?

6) Religions create separation

Religions frequently promote inbred social networks. You’re 

encouraged to spend more time with people who share the same 

belief system while disengaging from those with incompatible 

beliefs. Sometimes this is done subtly; other times it’s more 


If you’re one of the saved, blessed, or otherwise enlightened 

individuals who stumbled upon the one true belief system, then 

supposedly everyone else remains in the dark. Certain religions are 

overtly intolerant of outsiders, but to one degree or another, all 

major religions cast non-subscribers in a negative light. This helps 

to discourage members from abandoning the religion while still 

enabling them to proselytize. The main idea is to maintain social 

structures that reward loyalty and punish freedom of thought.

This us-vs-them prejudice is totally incongruent with conscious 

living. It’s also downright moronic from a global perspective. But it 

remains a favored practice of those who pull the strings. When 

you’re taught to distrust other human beings, fear gets a foothold in 

your consciousness, and you become much easier to control.

When you join a religion, your fellow mind-slaves will help to keep 

you in line, socially rewarding your continued obedience while 

punishing your disloyalty. Why do they do this? It’s what they’ve 

been conditioned to do. Tell your religious friends that you’re 

abandoning their religion because you want to think for yourself for 

a while, and watch the sparks fly. Suddenly you’ve gone from best 

friend to evil demon. There’s no greater threat to religious people 

than to profess your desire to think for yourself.

There are better ways to enjoy a sense of community than joining a 

slavery club. Try making friends with conscious, free-thinking 

people for a change — people who are willing to connect with you 

regardless of how silly your beliefs are. You may find it 

intimidating at first, but it’s quite refreshing once you get used to it.

7) Idiocy or hypocrisy – pick one

When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two 

options. You can become an idiot, or you can become a hypocrite. 

If you’ve already chosen the former, I’ll explain why, and I’ll use 

small words so that you’re sure to understand.

First, there’s the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of the 

contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth 

is only 10,000 years old. Learn about various deities and such. Put 

your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking 


You’ll be saved, enlightened, and greeted with tremendous fanfare 

when you die… unless of course all the stuff you were taught turns 

out not to be true. Nah… if the guy in the robe says it’s true, it must 

be true. Ya gotta have faith, right?

Next, we have the hypocrisy option. In this case your neocortex is 

strong enough to identify various bits of utter nonsense in the 

religious teachings that others are trying to ram down your throat. 

You have a working B.S. detector, but it’s slightly damaged. 

You’re smart enough to realize that earth is probably a lot older 

than 10,000 years and that pre-marital (or non-marital) sex is a lot 

of fun, but some B.S. still gets through.   You know homosexuality 

should not be a criminal offense and that it occurs in nature all the 

time.  You don’t swallow all the bull, but you still identify yourself 

as a follower of a particular religion, most likely because you were 

raised in it and never actually chose it to begin with.

To you it’s just a casual pursuit. You’re certainly not a die-hard 

fundamentalist, but you figure that if you drink the wine and chew 

the wafer now and then, it’s good enough to get you a free ride into 

a half-decent afterlife. You belong to the pro-God club.

In this case you become an apologist for your own religion. You 

don’t want to be identified with the extreme fanatics, nor do you 

want to be associated with the non-believers. You figure you can 

straddle both sides. On earth you’ll basically live as a non-

practitioner (or a very sloppy and inconsistent practitioner), but 

when you eventually die, you’ve still got the membership card to 

show God.

Do you realize how deluded that is?

8) Inherited falsehood

What if you were born into a different culture? Would you have 

been conscious enough to find your way back to your current belief 

system? Or are your current beliefs merely a product of your 

environment and not the result of conscious choice?

Many religious teachers (i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.) are just 

brainwashed slaves themselves. They don’t have any real authority 

and aren’t even aware of the agenda being set by their superiors. 

This makes them better minions because they actually believe the 

B.S. they’re spouting and don’t know the truth behind it. A priest, a 

rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, but that’s as far as they get. 

They may interact with the bartender, but they never get to know 

the guy who owns the bar. They suffer from inherited falsehood 

just like everyone else.

Is your religion based on the inspired word of God? No more than 

this article. Just because someone says their text is divinely inspired 

doesn’t mean it is. Anyone can claim divine inspiration.

Even the central figures in major religions didn’t follow the 

religions that were spawned in their names. If they didn’t swallow 

the prevailing “wisdom” about gods and spiritual leaders and such, 

why should you? If you want to be more like the people you 

worship, then follow their lead by striking out on your own.

9) Compassion in chains

Religious rules and laws invariably hamper the development of 

conscience. This causes all sorts of problems like pointless violence 

and warfare. Those who preach nonviolence as a rule or law tend to 

be the most violent of all.

When you externalize compassion into a set of rules and laws, what 

you’re left with isn’t compassion at all. True compassion is a 

matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of force-

backed rules and laws.

Historically speaking, religious people love to fight each other. 

Instead of unconditional love, they practice conditional loyalty.  If 

you disagree with them, you’re a target… either for conversion or 

destruction (both of which are really the same thing).

If you value the ideal of unconditional love, you won’t find it in the 

practice of religion. Real compassion doesn’t arise from believing 

in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the 

concept of karma. Compassion can only result from conscious 

choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat 

of punishment or the promise of reward. If you’re obedient to your 

faith, it’s a safe bet that compassion is absent from your life.

10) Faith is fear

Religion is the systematic marketing of fear.

That’s the kind of nonsense religion pushes on people. They train 

you to turn your back on courage, strength, and conscious living. 

This is stupidity, not divinity.

Religion will teach you to fear being different, to fear standing up 

for yourself, and to fear being an independent thinker. It will erode 

your self-trust by explaining why you’re unable to successfully 

manage life on your own terms: You are unworthy. You’re a 

sinner. You’re unclean. You belong to a lesser caste. You are not 

enlightened. Of course the solution is always the same — submit to 

the will of an external authority. Believe that you’re inadequate. 

Give away your power. Follow their rules and procedures. Live in 

fear for the rest of your life, and hope it will all turn out okay in the end.

When you practice faith instead of conscious living, you live under 

a cloak of fear. Eventually that cloak becomes so habitual you 

forget it’s even there. It’s very sad when you reach the point where 

you can’t even remember what it feels like to wield creative 

freedom over your own life, independent of what you’ve been 

conditioned to believe.

Stop trying to comfort yourself by swallowing religious rubbish. If 

you really need something to believe in, then believe in your own 

potential. Put your trust in your own intellect. Stop giving away 

your power.

Dump the safety-in-numbers silliness. Just because a lot of people 

believe stupid stuff doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. It just means that 

stupidity is popular on this planet. When people are in a state of 

fear, they’ll swallow just about anything to comfort themselves.

Source: Written by Steve Pavlina on his 


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