All Of Religion Explained In One Video
By Leo Gura - April 20, 2015 | 175 Comments
The ugly truth your rational mind doesn’t want to hear about religions
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org, and here I’m going to attempt to explain all of religion in one video. One of the most fascinating questions that we encounter as human beings living this social existence and having this one life we live through, and we go through, and discover all this stuff about what life is — the existence of religions.
Not just one religion, but many, many, many religions. And it’s very fascinating how seriously people take their religions. How passionate they are about them. How they are willing to fight to the death to defend them and, also, how science plays into this and the whole history of religion.
So, in this video, I want to tackle this topic. It’s a pretty big topic to tackle, and it’s going to play out in a much different way than you probably think.
Let me preface by saying that this is my personal perspective, all right? This is my personal perspective from a lot of study that I’ve done. And I haven’t done study so much on religions, but I’ve done study on philosophy. And I’ve done study on personal development and, most recently, I’ve done a lot of study on consciousness. What is consciousness? And that led me to the study of enlightenment and what enlightenment is.
And all of this has very interesting ramifications for my understanding of religions. In fact, I just came back from an enlightenment workshop. I spent seven days immersed in a workshop. Mind-blowing, profound realizations that I’ve had.
I’m seeing reality differently now, from that workshop. And I’m seeing religion in a more clear light. At least in my opinion. And I wanted just to share some of my insights with you about religion, if you’re curious about this. For curiosity’s sake.
How It All Started
I used to be an atheist for pretty much most of my life. I remember debating some really religious friend that I had, in high school, and not understanding how someone could be so religions. He was a Christian, Protestant, I believe. I don’t exactly remember which denomination, but a really devout Christian.
And I couldn’t grasp it, because from scientific, rational perspective, religions don’t make a lot of sense. And yet, you’ve got so many people believing in religions. So, you start to wonder: How could this be? How could you have billions of people so bought into religion?
And, if religions are false, which is what the scientific perspective says about them — that they are just fairy tales, and stories and myths — then why are there so many similarities between different religions? And could religions have gotten such a strong foothold on culture and society? Very deep and perplexing questions that are not as easy to answer as you might think.
Now, I’m going to warn you that you’re not going to like what I have to say in this video if you’re rationally-minded. And I am rationally-minded too, but I’ve gone through a long journey of exploring lots of different stuff. And I’m extremely, extremely, extremely open-minded. So, this has helped me in my ability to investigate this stuff.
But what I find is that a lot of “rational people” are rational, but they are actually also very similar to religious people. Sometimes, very scientifically-minded, or rational, or even atheistic person will think they are 180 degrees away from religion.
But actually, what I’m going to suggest to you is that, if you are that type of person, you have a lot more in common with religious people than you’d like to admit. And we’ll get to that as we continue.
Also, even though I’m going to be saying some stuff here that your rational mind is not going to like, this video is not a defense of religion. And, in the end, what I’m going to tell you is that you should be dropping religious beliefs if you’ve got any.
So, let’s just start cracking into it. Another important caveat that I want to make here is that what I’m going to be telling you in this video is going to really strain your rational mind. But everything I tell you here will be empirical. I’m making empirical, factual, verifiable claims that I claim you can verify in your own direct experience. So, this is not going to be some mystical talk.
This is not going to be like most religious talk, which is just talk about stuff that you’re supposed to have faith in and believe on blind faith, and there’s nothing tangible that you can verify or not verify, prove or disprove. What I’m telling you here is going to be very provable, if you want it, if you want to prove it. It’s going to take a little bit of work, though.
Surpassing The Dogma
So, the core problem here, between this religion vs. science debate, is that human beings are extremely, extremely dogmatic. Dogmatic, that’s the key word here — dogmatic. What does dogmatic mean? Dogmatic doesn’t pertain to religions, or to science, or to any particular thing.
Dogmatic means that you cling to a particular world-view or belief. When you do this, you don’t tell yourself that you’re clinging to a world-view or to a belief. What you tell yourself is that you have the facts and that this is just a fact and it’s true. It doesn’t feel like you’re clinging to anything.
But, in fact, what you’re doing is you’re clinging. And this closes your mind down and doesn’t permit you to do a very exhaustive, open-minded search, right? So, the trick here is not only — are we dogmatic? — but we lie to ourselves about being dogmatic.
We don’t honestly tell ourselves that we’re dogmatic. We just behave dogmatically and we do this unconsciously. And we will defend, often to the death, our dogmatism. Deny that it’s dogmatism. So, this is not a problem of religion. This is a problem of the human psyche.
Because, when the human psyche takes on a core assumption or a belief, no matter what it is, whether it’s a religious one or something totally different, it doesn’t really matter — you cling to it, you make it a part of your self-identity. You make it a part of your self image. And when you do that, you identify with it and you feel like you need to defend it.
And that’s why having a discussion about religion at the dinner table will often turn into some heated debate or argument. Or people’s feelings get hurt. Because we don’t just treat this logically, intellectually, rationally. We treat these issues emotionally. They trigger us emotionally.
And don’t think that, just because you have a rational way of looking at the world, that you are not dogmatic. See, your rational way of looking at the world is still emotionally grounded. And it triggers just as easily in you, let’s say — a rational person, as it would in a religious, dogmatic, fanatical person. This is a very common mistake that I see atheists making.
They think that, just because they are an atheist, they are not dogmatic. Well, what I find in practice is that most atheists are actually very, very, very dogmatic. And this upsets them to hear because they like to use it as a separation between themselves and religious people. But, actually, you’re on the same side on that point.
The difference you have with religious people is that you have a different kind of dogmatism. What I’m going to suggest to you here, though, is that you’d be much better served to move away from dogmatism entirely. Because then you could see this whole debate from a much higher, elevated viewpoint. And you could get a lot of perspective and a lot of emotional release from giving up your dogmatism, but this is a tricky thing to do.
See, another problem here is that rational people see religion as foolish. Why? Well, because we go out into the world and, this is how I thought for most of my life: I’m here in life and I don’t see any supernatural phenomenon. I don’t see any gods, I don’t see any miracles, I don’t see Zeus throwing thunderbolts onto the Earth. I don’t see any supernatural stuff, so why would I assume that supernatural stuff exists?
And because of this fundamental incongruity, basically, religion looks like a hoax. Because religion is talking about supernatural deities, and beings, and miracles happening, and all this stuff. But then you look at real life and you’re like: “Dude, I mean, just get real. What are you talking about? This stuff is clearly not here. What are you smoking?”
Ideas Behind Religions
So, that’s one issue we’ve got here. But, really, you have to ask yourself: Why does religion exist? Not just one, but many, many religions? And these religions, it’s not like they are all totally random, different religions.
They seem to have a lot of common elements and threads between them. Even though superficially they might look very different, also, from a big-picture point of view, they all sound, and start to converge, and look very similar. So, why is this going on? A very interesting question.
You have to think about this question very open-mindedly, though. Because I see a lot of explanations that come to mind and, I’ve coped with these explanations myself when I was younger, and I’ve read books and heard other people talk about what the origins of religion might be. And I want to suggest that the following origins, that I’m going to list off, are not good explanations.
So, one explanation, you might think, well, religion is just primitive stupidity. Primitive cultures, thousands of years ago, they really didn’t understand life, they didn’t understand themselves, they didn’t understand how the mind works, or science. And so, they just were, basically, foolish and their primitive ideas somehow evolved into these organized religions.
I want to suggest to you that that’s not a really good explanation. Nor do I think that religion is merely a superstition that’s been formalized and codified. And don’t think that’s a really good explanation either. Nor do I think that tradition is a good explanation for what religion is and why it originated.
It’s not merely from tradition that these things arose. There seems to be a much stronger force at play there than just tradition. Because there’s a lot of different kind of tradition that we could have had that was not mystical, or religion-based, or god-based.
Nor do I think that this explanation of religion as a social, political, controlling mechanism is a satisfactory explanation. For example, some people would say that the reason religion exists is to control the masses. Especially in the old days, when the masses were really stupid and there was less social structures.
We didn’t even have countries, we had city-states and tribes. In this kind of environment, you basically needed some kind of abstract system of belief that would bring together and make cohesive a bunch of different people. Give them a sense of direction and purpose in life or whatever. Or maybe it was used by some ruler or king to control his people and you pacify his people against rebellion.
And while I think that that’s definitely been done in the past, that political leaders and religious leaders have used religion as a controlling mechanism for social engineering, and to profit themselves and other such things — to gain power, to maintain power over people — that certainly happened. But it doesn’t make sense that that was the origin of religion.
Nor does it make sense that religion is merely a collection of myths or fairy tales. This also doesn’t make sense. Because the myths and fairly tales, they could have been very random and very different than they ended up being. And it doesn’t quite explain what and why religion is. So, all of those things might be true to some degree, but they miss the core, they miss the core that’s there.
And the core that I want to tell you about right here, which I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, as I’ve been working really hard on my enlightenment and studying a lot of consciousness material — and this is the thing that you’re really, really not going to like, you’re not going to like this, your rational mind is not going to like this — is that there is an absolute truth and this absolute truth is accessible to human beings.
Again, there is an absolute truth and this absolute truth is accessible to human beings. And here’s the really nasty bit that you’re not going to like: it’s not accessible to the rational mind. It is not accessible to the rational mind. The scientific, rational mind, hates this. It hates this idea. This idea is not something it wants to accept.
So, what I submit to you is that, if your mind is rejecting this idea and it’s not even open to this possibility, than what you’re being is dogmatic. Here I just stated this, but I want to go and explain how this can be possible and why you’re missing this, why your rational mind is missing this. Because your rational mind is rejecting out of hand this idea that there could be something outside of the rational mind.
It seems silly, it seems superstitious, it seems mystical, it seems religious. And religious is a bad word. But I want to urge you to be a little bit more cautious and careful and open-minded here. Because I’m going to lay something on you that’s going to be pretty deep.
Here’s how it works. I’ll tell you exactly the structure, the core of religion. And my claim here is that this structure is actually true. This structure is actually true. So, here’s how it works.
The Sense Of Self
You’ve got a sense of self, of personal self. You believe that you are a body, and you believe that [you’re] this mind and the brain inside the body. And you’ve got this personal story: you can remember the time that you were born and the way that you grew up, and where you are now. And you believe that you’re going to die, and yada, yada, yada, right? And that all makes pretty good sense. Except there’s one problem.
And that problem is that, if you look really carefully and really deeply, what you’re going to realize is that this sense of self that you have is an illusion. And that there is no such thing as a sense of self. Thing that you call you, the thing that you think you are most certainly, when we say your name — the thing that points to — well, that thing is actually a big confusion and a big mistake in your mind.
So, what’s possible then is that it’s possible to, basically, jail-break your brain. You know how they jail-break cell phones, to break out of the crappy operating system, or whatever, install whatever software you want? Well, what’s empirically possible is to jail-break your brain. And you can jail-break the mind from the brain. Pretty cool.
In doing so, what you discover is that the self, the self that you believe that you are, everything you believe that you perceive, is actually not being perceived by a “you”. And this answers a very deep, existential question. And the existential question that it answers is that it answers who you really are. You believe, right now, that you’re this physical body.
Well, what I’m telling you is that’s false. That’s a false identification. Your identifying with your physical body in the same way that, maybe, a psychotic might identify with being a chair or a tree, or something. In the same way, you’re identifying with your body. It certainly feels very real, but it’s not true.
When you break through that illusion, and you find what’s true, you discover something that’s quite unfathomable and, literally, incommunicable. And that is that the self, the true self — not the false self — but the true self is nothing. And this nothing is a very special thing. This is not something to be dismissed lightly.
Nothing, here, I mean literally. You are literally nothingness. This cannot be believed or logically understood. It has to be directly experienced. You are the nothingness, so you are it. Once you realize it, you can actually be it. You can be the nothingness. So, the self is nothing. OK, so that’s step one.
The second step is to — and, by the, way, when you experience that, that’s called enlightenment, when you realize that, that’s called enlightenment — so, after you get your first enlightenment about yourself, then comes the next, even bigger enlightenment.
And that is, answering existentially: what is existence? Have you ever wondered about that? What the hell is existence? How can existence even exist? Ever wondered about that? What turns out is that you can have an enlightenment experience that will reveal to you the absolute nature of existence. And what that absolute nature is — is nothingness.
Existence and nothingness are the same. They arise out of each other. Or, more accurately, existence arises out of nothingness. And that nothingness doesn’t go away, it’s always there. This is referred to as the Void in certain Buddhist traditions or, maybe, Zen traditions. They call it the Void.
So, all of reality comes from nothingness. Now, this might seem like: “OK, that, kind of, maybe makes sense, or whatever.” But see, I’m telling you here to believe it or to take it on as a theory. I’m telling you that you can actually get a direct encounter with this truth.
The other enlightenment that you can have — there are multiple enlightenments that you can have — another enlightenment that you can have is that other people, others around you, everyone you see, are also nothing, also nothingness.
And what that means is that, because you’re nothing, and they’re nothing, that you and them are identical, the same, at an existential, metaphysical level. You’re identical. So, you can have that enlightenment experience. And then, ultimately, what you discover is: you piece all these things together and you get a direct experience of the absolute truth.
And the absolute truth is, basically, that existence arises out of nothing. This nothingness, this ultimate void, is God. The word “god” refers to this nothingness. Because it’s the source of everything, right? It’s not a personal god. It’s not a god with a beard.
It’s not a god as “him” or “her”, but it’s god in the sense that it’s the source of all reality. And this nothingness is a unity, it’s a One. And it has no space, it has no location, it has no distance, it has no size, because nothingness doesn’t have any of those qualities.
What we’re talking about here is not an idea of nothingness, which is something. But we’re talking about, literally, nothingness. And what you discover is that you are nothing, and God is nothing, and so, because of this — you are God.
That right there is the core of every major religion. All major religions are grounded in the truth of no-self. That’s what I like to call it, the truth of no-self. Christianity is founded on this, as is Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, even Sufism and yogic practices in India and in the East.
All of these different religions are, really, different ways, very roundabout ways often, to explain what I just explained to you. Now, there’s an additional, really big wrinkle in this whole thing: what I explained to you is just like a vague, vague, vague, story. Still a story, not reality, about what reality is.
And so, just consider for a second — I know that what I said might sound crazy to you, or might sound very implausible, or whatever — but, just consider for a second that, if this mechanism that I explained is actually accurate and correct, it would certainly explain a whole hell of a lot about why religions are, and how they are, and how they came to be. Wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it explain a whole hell of a lot, if you looked at religions through this lens?
Let’s take a look at it. But you have to take into consideration that this idea of no-self, this truth of no-self, as I call it, that this is something that has to be directly experienced. This is not something that can be spoken or logically analyzed.
Why? Because, when you think about nothingness, it’s already something. What is the one thing that you cannot intellectualize about? It’s nothingness. You can’t intellectualize nothingness, because when you’re intellectualizing, that’s something.
So, the problem here becomes that, if you want to get at the nothingness, you can’t do it through your conventional, practical, every-day logical thinking. You can’t do it through scientific thinking. You can’t do it through language. And, by the way, science is language.
Science is language. You cannot do science without language. So, because of this, you have to be open to a radical, new, third alternative of understanding reality. What do I mean by a “third alternative”? Well, you’ve got one alternative, which is – to conceptualize about it, right?
You can create a model of how reality works, and that’s what science loves to do, and that’s what we do with even non-scientific pursuits. We create models. Religion creates models, too. We create models in our everyday life. We create maps of reality and all this kind of stuff.
It helps, creating these models. So, you can create models and concepts, and you can think about reality. That’s one way to understand reality. A second way, arguably even better and more direct, is to actually experience it with your own senses. First-person experience. Who can doubt what they actually see?
When you look up in the sky, and you see the sun or the moon, it’s really hard to doubt that thing exists, ’cause you see it right there before your eyes. So, experience is really nice, and one of the crowning achievements of science is that, what it did is that it founded its models on experience. Science is great because you actually get to look at what’s there: reality, experience.
And that you get to create a model. But that model, it’s not just some, any model that you want to create — otherwise, that would be a fairy tale — it’s actually a model that’s pinned down by experience, right? So, it’s limited, it’s constrained. There’s a verifiability built into it. So that’s really cool.
And then what we do is we say, well, that’s pretty much all we’ve got, right? You’ve got experience and you got your conceptualizing of experience. That’s how we know stuff and that’s the end of the story, right? Well, what if it wasn’t?
The Third Way
What if there was a third way to know stuff? What would that way be, you might ask? Well, what if you could actually be the thing itself? Think about this. So, for example, when you’re looking at my hand right now, you’re seeing it, right?
Now, the question is — you’re looking at it and you see it and it looks like a hand to you — now, the question is: to the hand itself, to the hand, what does the hand actually appear like? Does it appear the way it appears to you? Does it have colors and stuff? Or does it actually have its own being which is different than the way it appears to you?
You’re probably going to say: “Yeah, sure it does, Leo, but what are you trying to say? That I can be this hand? I can I be the hand, it doesn’t make much sense?” Well, this is where the truth of no-self becomes very important.
Because, the problem is that, when you’re identified with yourself, and you believe that you are this right here, this body, this mind, and these thoughts, then you’re stuck. And you can only be this, you can’t be anything else.
Now, though, if you jail-break your brain, if you really dis-identify from everything in your experience, including your body, and your thoughts, and everything else, this gives you the freedom to be everything and anything.
I’m not saying this figuratively, I’m saying it quite literally. So, this sounds pretty crazy, and it sounds like, well, some sort of myth or something like that. But what I’m saying here’s that you can actually do this in your own experience. It’s not a myth, you don’t need to go read a Bible, or whatever, to do this. It can be done.
Now, the trick, though, is that it’s difficult to do this. It’s not quite easy. And why is that? Well, because you’re extremely attached to your self, to your self-hood, to your self-image. And so, this process of jail-breaking your mind from the brain, this is a very serious physiological undertaking.
This does not happen easily, because everything in your psyche resists. It in the same way that, when you try to hack an iPhone, or whatever, the software in the iPhone resists you hacking it, right? But there are hackers who are good enough to hack it. And then, what they can do is that, they can do some remarkable stuff when they rid of those limits that the original phone manufacturers put on the damn thing. All those limits can be overcome.
So, it’s kind of the same with your mind and your brain. The problem here, though, is that human beings think extremely dogmatically. Remember the original, core problem we talked about at the beginning? Human beings are extremely dogmatic.
Well, if this truth of no self is communicated to other people — because you can’t communicate it, right?, you can’t communicate being, being something, you have to be it, you can’t communicate about it, anything you communicate about it is just more story
— so the only way to get and use this third alternative of being is to actually do the being yourself.
See, the problem is that it’s so difficult to actually jail-break your own mind. When you talk about these things to other people, what they do is they construct stories, and they turn this stuff into belief systems, right? And then, those beliefs, they turn into myths.
And a lot of times, the way that people talk about these things is true analogy, because that’s the only way you can talk about it. You can’t talk about it directly. To talk about it directly would be to be the damn thing yourself.
But, see, I can’t make you be it. You have to do it yourself. So, this creates a really big problem, because other forms of human knowledge can be easily spread. For example, if you want to write about mathematics, you can write some formulas in a book, and you can explain everything, and then you can print a million copies of this book, and send it around the world, and create classrooms full of calculus books, or whatever, that will teach calculus . And problem solved.
Now, how do you communicate the truth of no-self? Well, you can write it in a book. But the problem is that the person reading that book, just by reading that, that doesn’t jail-break his mind. So, he still believes he’s the self. And he’s so dogmatic he doesn’t understand he’s dogmatic. So, what he does is: he conflates reality with a belief system. And he thinks that just believing it is enough.
So, he reads the book, he reads about no-self, he reads about some god-idea, or nothingness, or whatever, and then he turns it into a belief. And so, the only way that you can mass-spread the truth of no-self is by turning it into a belief system — which makes it necessarily false.
You can turn it into a myth. If you want to stay true to the truth of no-self, the only way to do that is through silence. You can’t say anything. So, this presents a really big problem because it turns out, then, that you can’t mass-distribute the truth of no-self. This is one of the few truths that cannot be mass-distributed, unlike most of science and all the other stuff we know.
This should start to be clicking in your mind. You should start to get this “oooh”, “ahaaa”, right? As all the things you know about religion start clicking into place when you start looking at it through this lens that I’m sharing with you. Let me just continue a little bit more.
Now, think back two thousand years ago what life was like. Or maybe even five thousand years ago. Back then, our understanding of science and scientific principles, and sound philosophical reasoning processes, was non-existent. Human beings at that point did not develop good, practical, analytical thinking skills. So, there was not a really good scientific way, very careful, methodical way to explain what I’m explaining to you now.
In fact, human beings weren’t really clear about all the trickiness that the psyche presents. The whole idea of a psyche or a subconscious mind, these ideas, they are just a couple of hundred years old, a couple of hundred. Think how it was like to live life two or five thousand years ago.
It’s like you were living in the dark. You were living in a totally different reality. You did not understand reality the way we understand it now, through science. And so, therefore, people resorted to mythology, and story-telling, to talk about this truth of no-self. Now, how did this work in practice? Well, you have some extremely, really fucking hard-core guys, maybe one in a million, or out of ten million, that will breakthrough and see the truth of no-self by jail-breaking their mind.
These were the mystics, these were the yogis. These were the Jesus Christs and the Buddhas. These were the sages, these were the swamis. There are so many different names for these kinds of people, right? These were the Zen masters, before there even were the Zen masters.
You got to figure that this is how it happened. And then what happened is, when they break through this and they see this amazing, mind-blowing shift and perspective on life, what they do, of course, is that, well, some of them remain silent and say nothing.
But some of them want to share with others, because it’s like: “Oh, my god, you’re living in a fucking dream. You’re living in a fucking dream, you’re mistaken about how your whole life works and you don’t even know it. You don’t even have a suspicion, not even an inkling. And if I’m the yogi here, and I’m sitting and I’m looking at you, and I’m like: It’s just preposterous. It’s preposterous. I’ve broken out of the matrix. I want to help some other people break out of the matrix.”
And so, what I do, is I try to explain it to you in the way that I can. But again, I can’t explain it directly. I need you to experience it. But the problem is that it’s pretty difficult for you to jail-break your own mind. And you know, five thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, the process of jail-breaking your mind and achieving an enlightenment experience, was not well-studied, was not well-known, and it really was just kind of, like, something that happened almost by blind luck.
So, there was no reliable process to give to others for having them achieve enlightenments of their own, and see the truth for themselves. So, all that you could do is — you could tell stories. And so that’s what people did, they told stories.
And as they told these stories, this idea of no-self was explained and tailored to the local culture. Because the way that we understand the truth of no-self here, in the West, in America, let’s say, might be one way. And if you tell it in a some sort of cloaked and veiled Indian culture way, then we are not going to be receptive to it. So, it has to be told in an American way.
And if we tell it in Europe, it has to be told in a European way, and if we tell it in the Middle East, it has to be told in a Middle-eastern way, and if we tell it in India, it will be told in an Indian way, and in Africa it will be told in an African way, and so on.
The Sugar Coating
So, what you have here is that you have the same truth, but it’s tailored to the culture and to the era and the time in which this truth is discovered. Now, the truth is absolute, but every culture is different, right?
Every culture has stuff that it likes, it doesn’t like, and dogmatic and close-minded people, they are not very tolerant people. So, if you want to explain this stuff to them, you have to really tailor it in such a way that their mind, their limited mind will find it palatable. Palatable, right? It’s like giving someone a pill that tastes bitter, but to make them swallow, you have to coat it in sugar. Sugar-coating the pill.
So, in a sense, that’s what religion tries to do. And also, in a sense, no matter what explanation you give of no self, it doesn’t really matter because every explanation is wrong. It’s not like there’s one right explanation. The only right explanation is to actually have the person become the truth themselves and get it for themselves. Everything else is already wrong.
So, in a sense, you could say that every twist and turn that religion has put on it is just like a teaching mechanism. It’s just a tool. Now, the question is: are you going to be receptive to this tool, is it going to help you achieve enlightenment for yourself, or won’t it? Maybe it will get you lost in stories, and ideas, and looking somewhere where you’ll never find enlightenment.
And what will end up happening, very ironically, actually, is that most of religions devolved into exactly this. You just had people talking and talking about this stuff, and believing it, and creating dogmas around it, fighting over it, and all this psychologically getting invested in it without realizing what the hard-core mystics were really talking about.
If you go and actually study every major religion what you discover is that there is a hard-core mystical strand, it’s called — esoteric. The esoteric strand within every religion. It exists. You’ll find it in Christianity, you’ll find it in Judaism, with Kabbalah, you’ll find it in Islam, with Sufis, you’ll find it in Hinduism, you’ll find it with yoga and all this stuff. You find the hard-core mystics.
Those are actually the people who are living religion in the true way. But the problem is that they seem very radical, they seem very anti-mainstream and that is, of course, how it has to be. Because the truth of no-self is very radical and it’s very mainstream. You can’t mainstream it by definition. It’s completely individual. It makes the spread of religion impossible, it really does.
So, you have these hard-core mystic, esoteric splinter groups. Very tiny, little, niche splinter groups within every religion. And usually, what happens is that they are marginalized, those people are demonized, they are killed, they are driven into caves and into the woods and all this stuff. Because there’s no way that they can compete with the hyped up bullshit that’s generated when you take the truth of no-self and you spin a bunch of crazy, mind-blowing stories about it.
And you give it to the dogmatic mind. The dogmatic mind cannot understand no-self, but it can very easily take no-self, spin some tales about it and then understand those. And latch on and cling to those. Which is exactly what religions do. So, that’s basically how it works, in my mind. When I look at religions, it’s very clear to me through this lens how it looks.
The closer you get yourself to enlightenment, the more your awareness is raised about some of these issues, with self-image, and self-concept, and jail-breaking your mind, and how nothingness really works. That nothingness can’t be somethingness. That you can’t perceive nothingness because the perception of nothingness would be something and not nothing.
When you start to learn about the problems with conceptualization and the fact that, to think about something, you have to use a language system to think about it, and that language systems inherent biases and problems and challenges. When you start to look at this stuff, you start to se from a very, very clear perspective: “Oooh, of course! Of course there are these religions! Of course they work the way they work! Of course people buy into them!” Of course.
And the reason you say “of course” is because you recognize in yourself that dogmatism, that dogmatism that a fanatical, religious person has. That dogmatism is in you, it’s in you, you just deny it. Maybe you hide it a little bit better than that person. Maybe you don’t take it to some really far-fetched extreme. Maybe you don’t act on it as much, but it’s still there in you. And the way you can recognize it is just by actually feeling it, right?
You can feel that dogmatism when someone starts disturbing your world-view or your beliefs, maybe with a video like this one. What starts to happen is that you actually experience emotions, strong emotions.
Distaste, fear, anger, bitterness, feelings of discomfort, demonizing of the other person, burning the person at the stake, or whatever. Creating a straw man argument out of what they are saying. Closing your ears. Clicking the “off” button. Telling your friends how stupid the idea was that you heard. Or writing a nasty comment. Or whatever means you use to protect your world-view.
You notice inside, though, that this is a like a dirty feeling. Sometimes, it’s hard to pinpoint it, but if you’re very self-honest, you can say: “yup, there it is, there’s that dirty feeling inside me.” It’s inside you.
In wrapping this up, one thing that I want to address in atheism. You might ask: well, Leo, what about atheism? Is atheism wrong? Is it false? Is it true? What’s going on? Well, in a sense it’s like the atheist is half-right. Because, what does the atheist say? The atheist says there’s no God. Well, the religious, the true religious person, what he wants to say is: there is a God, but this God is nothingness. So, in a sense, the atheist and the true mystic agree.
Because it’s like: there is no God, but the fact that there is a nothingness becomes the God. See, nothingness, it’s seems like nothingness is nothingness. So it’s pointless and shallow and hollow, and there’s not much meaning there.
But actually, this is a profound, absolute, existential nothingness. It’s hard to appreciate how powerful this nothingness is, because this nothingness is the source of all life. It’s the source of all reality. So, because it’s so profound, and because it’s so awe-inspiring, people call it God.
Now, the atheist could say, well, there is no God. But see, if you take that atheist and you actually give him an enlightenment experience for real, and you get him to feel directly, to be the nothingness, he is going to have a real difference of opinion. A real difference of attitude. A real difference of perspective. Things are really going to change for him. And it’s not going to be a typical kind of atheism that you see people talking about.
So, what about science? Is science wrong? Well, science is great, and with science we can build a lot of cool stuff, and technology, and whatever, and we can learn about electrons and protons, and all sorts of cool shit. But there’s a really big problem at he core of science.
Yes, science is very practical, but there’s a real big, core problem. And that’s the matter-qualia problem. And this is a problem that science has never addressed, it’s a problem that, really, science skirts all the time. And my current understanding is that science will never ever — ever be able to rectify this problem.
Here’s the problem. The science says that there’s physical matter and that there’s a physical world. And that sounds all great, you know? We got protons, and electrons, and quarks, and strings, and all this energy, and whatever other physical things you want to talk about. But, science has nothing about our perceptions.
So, the things that you are considering most real in your life: your feelings, your emotions, the colors that you see, the smells that you smell, the tastes and the sounds, and the qualitative aspects of all that — those things are not atoms, or energy, or strings, or quarks, or molecules, or anything else like that.
If we cut-open your brain, we are not going to find the color orange in there. If we cut-open your brain, we are not going to find the feeling of love or happiness in there. And if we cut-open your brain, we are not going to find the sound of a guitar in there. And yet, these entities, these experiential entities are very, very real to us.
The thing that science does with this problem is that is really skirts it under the rug, doesn’t like to look at it. Sometimes, it will deny the existence of qualia altogether. Or sometimes, it will come up with some ham-fisted way of taking matter and qualia, and somehow combining them together and explaining something away. But in the end, it doesn’t really resolve this issue.
Now, maybe I’m wrong on this. Maybe, in a thousand years, science will resolve this issue. But from where I stand now, and from what I understand about enlightenment, is that you’re not going to be able to resolve this issue. If you want to resolve this issue, what you have to do is to become enlightened. And then, the issue resolves completely, like that.
So, the resolution of the issue is enlightenment. But then, what that does is that it really throws science on its head. Really starts you questioning some core assumptions that science makes, right? So, really quickly I want to go through and explain a couple of key terms and concepts that religions rely on pretty heavily. I want to tell you exactly what they mean in no-bullshit terms.
The Key Concepts
So, the first one is: what is God? God is absolute nothingness. It’s absolute, you can encounter it, you can be it, you actually are it, you just don’t realize it yet, because you’re identified with your body. That’s God. God is not some bearded man in the clouds, or wherever the fuck your religions tell you he is.
Number two: heaven and hell. What does this mean? Is there a natural heaven and hell? No. Hell is where you presently live, hell refers to your current existence of being stuck and identified with your body. That is, literally, hell. Because you suffer for it every single day. You can’t avoid the suffering, because you live with a body that’s going to die, so there’s going to be suffering.
Heaven is the dis-identification of your self and your body, and becoming absolute nothingness. You know what’s cool about being absolutely no one, and nothing? It’s that nothing can harm you. And nothingness, it exists absolutely all the time, forever. So, there’s no worry about your death or whatever other problem is happening to you. So, this makes you untouchable. And that is heaven.
The next idea is faith. What does faith mean? Well, faith is actually — this is a very interesting realization I just had last week, from this workshop that I did — what faith is, is your ability to open your mind up to the third possibility.
So, we have concepts, and we have experience, the third possibility is being. The third possibility, of being. Well, this is something that’s very hard for the rational mind to open itself up to. And what I’ve literally found in myself is that I have to have faith in it.
Now, this sounds like a dirty word to you if you’re a rational person. Like: Faith, no, I don’t want to have faith, Leo, that’s for stupid people. And I agree with you, except that in this case, if you actually want to have an enlightenment experience, you are going to need faith. You are not going to do it without faith.
And so, it’s like: is faith really that scary? Are you so dogmatic that you’re going to be clinging to this idea of never having faith in the third option. And, therefore, never experiencing the third option?
Or, you can have the faith to take that leap of faith and try to go for the direct experience. And actually get the direct experience. Actually be the thing and then see what I’m talking about for real, for you. So, faith is important there.
Next term is good and evil. What do these things mean? These are not absolute terms. These are relative terms. These are metaphorical terms. So, what is evil, first of all? Evil is selfishness, evil is that identification with your body and all the actions that you do to live and perpetuate you ego. That’s evil. That’s literally what evil refers to.
Also, the devil, we should bring the devil in here, too. What does the devil refer to? The devil refers to you. The way that you’re presently living your egoic life. So, you are the devil, right? Because you’re tricking yourself. The devil is deception. You’re deceiving yourself about being this body and this mind here, which is just not true.
And then, what is good? Good is everything you do from a selfless state. Good is when you become God, when you see that you’re nothingness. And therefore, you also see that you’re everything. And you start behaving in a good way. Why? Because, when you see that everything is you, you want to treat it well.
The reason you treat other people, or even physical objects, poorly, the reason you litter, the reason you steal something, the reason you lie or deceive is because you believe that: Well, I’m here, I need to protect this, and that thing over there is not important, screw that. So, you do something to improve this at the expense of that. Well, if you literally believe that you’re everything, you don’t want to hurt anything at the expense of anything else. And then you’re good.
How about afterlife? What does afterlife mean? Well, afterlife means understanding the absolute truth of nothingness, because when you understand the absolute truth of nothingness, then you are in the afterlife already. Why? Because you can’t be destroyed, you’re untouchable. Nothingness lasts forever.
And, lastly, what does salvation mean? Salvation means being saved from your wicked state. So, metaphorically speaking, if we say that you’re the devil right now, then what I could do, if I’m enlightened or whatever, is that I can communicate this truth of enlightenment to you, sort of. Maybe within you, something will recognize a spark of truth here and you’ll come towards the light.
And you’ll try to go for the enlightenment experience. Maybe you’ll have some faith and you’ll open up yourself to the third possibility, and you’ll have a direct experience. And then you will become good from evil. And that will be a true salvation. A remarkable rebirth. I’m being very poetic and metaphorical here.
But that’s exactly what the Bible is. It’s a very loose, very, very, very, very, very loose, very, very, very metaphorical, very. Very, very, very poetic way of describing some of the stuff that I’ve been talking about here.
And just a couple of last points, to wrap up, is that everything I said here can be directly experienced for you. So, the reason why I’m telling you here is not religion. What I’m telling you here: I invite you to go and realize in your own life. You can verify it, right? I’m making a verifiable claim. A verifiable claim.
And, of course, the irony of all of this, is that religion is really a terrible way to get to know God. The people who are the most religious are the furthest away from God. That’s the whole irony of this thing.
But, of course, that means that, if you just become atheistic, like the typical dogmatic atheist. That also puts you far away from God. So, if you really want to understand this stuff, and you want to be one with God, and you are God, then what you can do — because you’re nothingness — is that you can attempt to attain an enlightenment experience or two.
And then, in that process, you will become religious, but in a non-religious way. In a very non-dogmatic way. You are not going to hold a single belief. You’re not going to need to have any theory. You’re not going to need to partake in any ritual. You’re not going to need to pray, or to meditate or to do anything at all.
Because your absolute nature is nothingness. And that absolute nature is the same forever. And always. And it has no place, it has no space, it has no time boundaries, it has no problems whatsoever. And it’s the most beautiful truth that you can discover in this life.
What I really recommend here, even though it sounds like I’m here promoting religion or whatever, hopefully you can see that this video is very nuanced. I didn’t take any sides here. I really carved out a new space a new space for you.
Hopefully, this space looks cool and appealing, and you want to go and try to experience a bit of it for yourself, taste a bit of it for yourself. What I recommend for you is that, if you are a religious person, and if you do hold a single religious belief of any kind, that you drop all of your religious beliefs.
Because every belief that you have, religious ones or scientific ones, or whatever other kind you’ve got, all of these are holding you back from realizing your true nature. And now, hopefully, you can appreciate why true mystics are so rare. Because it’s extremely, extremely, extremely difficult to let go of all the beliefs that must be let go of in order to realize this truth. It’s really a scary fucking business. It’s a scary fucking business.
It’s not an easy business. This is going to be one of the most difficult and emotionally grueling and challenging endeavors that you will undertake in your life, and it might take you many, many, many years and much, much, much struggle to do it. And you might even invest all that time and energy and you might fail. So, yeah, some good news for you there. All end on a happy note.
The Wrap Up
Alright, this is Leo, I’m signing off. Post me your comments down below. Click the like button, please. Share the video with a friend. And, finally, come sign up to my newsletter right here at Actualized.org. It’s a free newsletter, I release new videos every single week on, oh man, all sorts of personal development topics, from very abstract ones to very esoteric ones, to very practical ones.
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