I was born in California and began to question the reality of religion at the early of about seven. My father, a Physicist and Aerospace engineer, would later move our family to the lovely and small city of Friendswood, Texas near Clearlake City, home of NASA. Here, he would work for TRW to help put a man on the moon. In fact I grew up with astronaut Buzz Aldrin's son, Andy, playing midget league football. My Dad helped coach the team.
Before moving to Texas, my mother and father raised myself, and two younger sisters, in non-denominational Christian church. The minister seemed to forever drill the importance of being saved by accepting Jesus as my savior. As a result, I became obsessed with whether or not I was saved. There was no way I wanted to go to a fiery hell of eternity if I some how died prior to being saved.
The city of Friendswood, as it turned out, was a Quaker established city. For me, this opened the floodgate to ask about the Quakers and how their teachings differed from those I learned in the Christian church. The essence of their teachings seemed to focus on listening "to the small loving, wise and still voice within." This made sense to me given its similarity to the biblical teachings of "Be still and know that I am God."
Once in Texas, our parents found another non-denominational Christian church and we began attending regular service there. My father enrolled me in the church's Christian Brigade, a boy-scout-like program. For me it was just an additional outlet to play competitive sports. Before each Brigade meeting we were required to sing the organizations theme song "Onward Christian soldiers marching on to war with the cross of Jesus....". The song always bothered me and seemed weird given the "marching to war" part of the lyrics because Jesus, as I learned, was a teacher of love and peace, the opposite of war.
There in Friendswood more questions arose about Christianity disclosed that there were other versions Christian teachings like from the Methodists, Protestants, Lutherans, Catholics and so on. Various adults, who explained the essence of these variations, inferred that their religious version of Jesus's teaching was correct and the others were wrong, and that by believing in such teachings people would ultimately go to hell. How could this be, I innocently thought, the common denominator was clearly Jesus? Adults failed to provide me any reasonable answer to this question and others. It was mentioned that Jews, supposedly killed Jesus. No one spoke of the Buddhists, Muslims or Hindus teaching. No mention was ever made Indigenous teachings, in my opinion, some of the most advanced in the world. I was confused and wanted to find the truth.
My obsession with the question of whether I was saved or not, lead me to read the Bible cover to cover three times before turning eighteen. Fortunately, by this time, a greater obsession for racing motocross set in and placed me at the races on Sunday's, rather than church. This adrenaline filled meditation seemed to bring me into an athletic and spiritual zone of atonement. One day, the small voice within spoke "Limitations are bound only by the mind, the mind is bound only by our perceptions of those limitations." This wisdom seemed natural and familiar, so I began listening carefully to this wise voice within. In hindsight, it was racing that saved me from a path of religious and dogmatic indoctrination.
After an injury ended my professional racing career I went onto college. Philosophy classes pulled deeply at me and pointed toward the big question of "what is this whole life process on earth was really about?" After graduating college and entering the workforce, I began reading book after book on the world's religious and metaphysical teachings. I was looking for the dots that connected things together to the truth of why myself and everybody else was here.
Later in life I formed a humanitarian organization called Project Peace On Earth that would produce global peace concert and initiatives starting in the Middle East (Palestine and Israel). This region of the world, birthplace to the three major monotheistic religions, is also the origin of the ruinous philosophical teachings of "I have the right God and therefore you don't. This makes me good and you 'the other' bad and so therefore 'I must be righteous and you 'the other' are evil." I've learned, and history has proven millennium after millennium, that once someone arms themselves with this insane and psychopathic belief then they can rationalize going into villages to murder men, rape women, kill babies and burn the village down. After these monstrous acts they can then go home and sleep like a baby because they believe God said this was "Ok".
Similarly, I've come to learn and see with my own eyes that anyone who claims themselves as "the Chosen Ones" and calls other people "Goyim" (meaning "cattle") or who believes that they've found "The Way" rather than "A Way" or deems their God, in any way "the only pathway to heaven" ...these people have proven that they are capable of committing all manners of psychopathic horrors onto another in the name of God.
In 1492 Nicholas, the fifth Pope, established 'The Doctrine of Discovery' which established the resulting protocols of death and enslavement when discoverer's traveled and encountered non-Christians. Pilgrims who landed on American soil and were saved by Native Americans, a day celebrated by Thanksgiving, were repaid with gratitude by having their land stolen for worthless glass beads, shooting and killing buffalo (the Native American's staple food stock) for fun and by moving train (because video games weren't invented at this time) and then committing genocide on some sixty million Indians. Those who we, the invaders, couldn't kill we rounded up and forced them into concentration camps we called 'reservations.' Yes, our proclamation of Manifest Destiny (we're the chosen ones and you aren't), America's version of The Doctrine of Discovery, brought Christians to behead, seal land and commit genocide. Presently, we've seen some Israel and Jewish people, who believe they are 'The Chosen Ones,' treat the Palestinian people with great indifference and murderous cruelty.
Religious Doctrines of superiority always precede a rationalized indifference towards people who occupy landmasses that are discovered to possess strategic resources that a militarized and colonizing power deem profitable. Britain, Spain, France and the United States have all played lead roles in colonizing other countries for such purposes. To date the U.S. maintains some 900 military bases worldwide.
Ultimately, I've concluded that every horrific thing on the planet to date has occurred because we're literally following Jesus's quote "Love thy neighbor, as thy self". This is because we are loving our neighbors exactly how we love ourselves...and that is 'we love ourselves horribly'. Therefore, until each of us truly find the kingdom of heaven that is within, that which is defined by expressing the loving, peace, compassion and innocence of a child, then we will continue to project our crazy self-hatred on to other people...defining them as the "Others" and then psychopathically harming or murdering them instead of lovingly embracing them as our brothers and sisters, God's gift to us as an extension of her/his family.
Ultimately I've concluded that there is only one God and that is a God of love. I pray that each of us find this sanity and remember that 'until we become as a child' we will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven that is within. In this inner kingdom of loving innocence, only then will we find the expressed freedom and salvation of the soul as expressed by the Jesus figure who stated, "Greater things I have done and even the least among you can do greater than I." In other words, I did it (enlightenment) and you can do it and even go further than I.
In this ultimate state of self-realization we can truly know the wisdom of the Buddhist poet Thich Nhat Hanh who states, "The healing of ourselves is the healing of the whole nation." In this awareness each of us can be empowered to bring our love to our planet as expressed in the Course in Miracles teachings, "The Salvation of the world depends on you."
The salvation of our world is truly possible when each of us have the courage to drop the hot rock of dogmatic religious beliefs and identification, and instead look within to remember and return to the love that we already are. Only then, as John Lennon reminds us in his song "Imagine," will we live as One.