That is the question, isn’t it? What is the core of Christianity? Where is the heart of religion? Did Jesus come to establish a religion?
I find looking back on my religious/spiritual life that I have been very gradually moving from belief to experience. “Very gradually,” although sometimes in huge leaps, other times enduring long dry plateaus. “Gradually” is the overall view provided by the long look back over time!
On a recently-watched video of a BBC interview* with Carl Jung he was asked about his belief in God. He stated he had some trouble with that word, “believe”. “I know, I don’t need to believe. I know,” he replied. If someone knows God, if someone has experienced the Divine, has experienced the Spirit realm, there is no need to believe in it, or him. There is direct knowledge. This statement from one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century helped clear things up for me. It went a long way to explaining my own path, my current position.
Early Church experiences in the 1970’s (see Chapter 2, Out of Winkler, for example) had started me on the journey of experiencing God, as opposed to only a rational belief in him. Gradually I began realizing how limiting dogma is. Don’t get me wrong. I think, at the beginning of one’s walk, that doctrine, scripture, etc, are a help along the way. I certainly value highly my own biblical training. It still informs me. I have not rejected previous training and experiences; rather, I have built on them, and continue to build on them. However, increasingly I realize, as Jung says, “Religion is a defense against religious experience.” (Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul, Claire Dunne, p 152). In a letter to a friend, Jung says, “People speak of belief when they have lost knowledge. Belief and disbelief in God are mere surrogates.” (Wounded Healer, p 153).
More and more I am encountering this idea: that experience and direct knowledge supersedes belief. For example, in my recently-reviewed book by Anita Moorjani, I find the following quotes: “Instead, letting go of attachment to any way of believing or thinking has made me feel more expanded and almost transparent so that universal energy can just flow through me.” (p 160.) “So these days, I don’t follow any established methodology, order, ritual, dogma, or doctrine. . . . For me, life is a spiritual experience, and I’m changing and evolving all the time.” (p 154). “To advocate any option or doctrine as being the one true way would only serve to limit who we are and what we’ve come here to be.” (p 155).
Again, from another recent review: “At last, I understood what religion was really all about. Or at least was supposed to be about. I didn’t just believe in God; I knew God.” (Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander, p 147).
It is almost precisely two years ago that I had my own profound experience of the Divine. I had my first soul regression session, and was gently ushered into the Spirit realm. (See especially, Chapter 15 in Out of Winkler). I experienced what every other person who has been there has experienced: unconditional love, complete lack of judgement, affirmation of who I was and what I was doing on earth during this lifetime, encouragement that I had what it takes to do what I needed to do and to be who I am. So I know. I know who I am in God. I know what the afterlife is like. I know God better for this experience. I no longer need to merely believe. As Jung says, “‘God-awful legalistic religion’ and over-reliance on faith [gets] in the way of gnosis, or direct knowledge of God.” (Wounded Healer, p 152).
If there is a God you must see him;
If there is a soul we must perceive it;
Otherwise it’s better not to believe;
It’s better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite. (source unknown)
__________ BBC interview: “Matter of Heart”, conducted in the late 1950’s, when Jung would’ve been in his early 80’s.