Dear Atreya. Do religions have a purpose? How come Christianity or any of the other religions do not lead to enlightenment? If they did, clearly the world would be a better place.

In the beginning of most spiritual journeys, “God” must be perceived in a concrete form as something separate from our self. This is so the devotee can pour himself into the symbol. “I am going to surrender my will to a higher will, etc.” If there is no symbol of a power greater than our self, than we will always continue to rely on “me,” which gives continuity to ego or a sense of exclusive individuality, hence building it up. So, religion in this manner is helpful in creating this symbolic receptacle. For example, “claiming Jesus as lord and savior” helps relieve a tremendous burden of responsibility, and there are many testimonies from people who have felt a breaking down of ego through this proclamation. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism also break down the “me” if one pours them self into it and practices diligently. AL Halaj, can show you…

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