I'm going to cut to the chase here for once: religion is based on the preservation of the ego. I'm probably not the first person to realize this but it split my mind open a little when that thought occurred to me yesterday. I had been having a conversation with a relative about why they would like it better if I was a "Christian" and had asked what was so wrong with me that Jesus was needed to fix. She responded that it was more that she believed in a forever Heaven and wanted to spend it with all of her family and it's sad to think I might not be there.
While I don't believe the same things that she does, I understand her perspective. Discussing this with my partner, she seemed shocked that people really hold onto the concept of heaven. "Yeah, it's basically a scheme where you live this narrow life and most likely suffer in trade for your wildest dreams. Or something like that" I replied. After a pause she mused "it's like they want to have the same life forever". That's when the lightening struck.
"God graciously granted you life" so you feel like it's right to fight for life because "that's what god wants you to do". Essentially it's giving survival instinct a story to feel good about fighting to keep the ego intact. That of course is taken to the max with the idea of Heaven because that's eternal life and you can't get any better than infinity right? So they plod on in the course that feels like they are punishing themselves enough for "God" to approve. Our upbringing determines much of our view of god leading some people to much more extreme interpretations of the "word of god". What does this all have to do with ego?
Ego is the concept of one's self and literally is Latin for "I" - our personality, bodies, family etcetera etcetera. Religion states that we are separated from god and are his creations, each one unique. It's this uniqueness and separateness that empowers belief systems like Christianity. When everything is connected and you believe that consciousness is god, matter, the universe, an illusion as some philosophies teach -then you lose the need for all the things that religion promises. If you are already eternal as conscious energy then there really is no reason to get attached to a form because you are constantly growing and evolving as nature does. The interconnectedness of things also removes the need for strict moral codes because any violence committed is ultimately against ones self. Heaven and the "narrow path that leads to life and few there be that find it" becomes useless with only a shift in perspective to acknowledging that you are not your ego. At that point you don't need to hold onto it because who cares?
What happens when we die? I couldn't tell you for certain nor do I care any more. I told my children this past weekend that I could prove to them with their Bible that an eternal hell is a contradiction because no child should have that shit crammed into their head! If sin is what separates you from "God" and "love covers all sins" according to Proverbs 10:12, then how can any reasonable person argue that hell could be eternally separated from god? It's asinine but it give the ego something to cling to because that's what the ego does - tries to survive usually revved up by the perpetual fear of the unknown. If your ego is steering the ship and it doesn't feel safe you aren't going to sleep too well until you find something that sets your mind at ease.
I was astonished at how it had been staring me in the face this whole time and I didn't realize it - the difference between religion and spirituality really is ego or no ego.