eckhart tolle teachings

Religious Hatred & Intolerance

What drives hatred in religion and how can we change it?

To put it succinctly, the ego drives religious hatred and intolerance. To understand the dysfuctional hatred in religion we have to first look at the ego which stands at it's core. What does the ego hate and fear more than anything else? Diminishment in any form: feeling blamed, criticized, rejected, misunderstood, belittled or ignored.

Whenever this happens, the ego responds with automatic repair mechanisms in order to reverse its diminished sense of self. The ego does this through self-justification, defense, or blaming. Whether the other person is right or wrong is irrelevant. The ego cares more about self-preservation than in the truth.

One of the most common ego-repair mechanisms is anger, which causes a temporary but huge ego inflation. All repair mechanisms make perfect sense to the ego but are actually dysfunctional. Those that are most extreme in their dysfunction are physical violence ad self-delusion. The physical violence and self-delusion in fundamentalist religions is the perfect vehicle of hatred.

A powerful spiritual practice is to consciously allow the diminishment of ego when it happens without attempting to repair it. I recommend that you experiment with this from time to time. For example, when someone criticizes you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself – do nothing.

Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what that feels like deep inside you. For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable, as if you have been made very very small. Then you may sense an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive. You haven't been diminished at all. In fact, you have expanded.

You may then come to an amazing realization: When you are seemingly diminished in some way and remain in absolute non-reaction, not just externally but also internally, you realize that nothing real has been diminished, that through becoming “less,” you become more. Through becoming less (in the ego's perception), you in fact undergo an expansion and make room for Being to come forward.

If you are content with being a nobody, if you can be content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the greatest power and strength.

Any act of religious intolerance, or hatred, or war is the activity of the ego. The ego needs to be right. The ego refuses to share power. The ego is deeply resistant to accommodating the beliefs of others that are different from its own. The ego perceives anyone or anything that does not completely agree with it as an enemy.

If we want to play a useful part in reducing the religious hatred and intolerance in our World, we must begin by taking responsibility for our own ego. If you want to be an activist, clean up your own act and then you can approach the issue from a place of experience and knowledge -- of having done it. Become free of your own tolerance and you can be a quiet but potent leader. By being the solution, you will inspire others how to become free of their intolerance.

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