Religion is inherently an attempt to connect with the
transcendent. Such a connection not only enlarges human consciousness but, if done without
the right purity of body and mind, can expand the human ego instead. It can not only
connect us with the Absolute but can lend the illusion of absolute truth to our own
The Hindu tradition emphasizes yogic sadhana to purify the body and mind
so that we have the proper vessel to experience superconsciousness. But religious
teachings that emphasize faith and belief do not require such sadhana. Faith-based
religions encourage belief in the irrational like the virgin birth or redemption on the
cross as necessary for salvation, not changing one's own consciousness. This placing of
faith beyond scrutiny tends to imbalance the minds of people and makes them prone to
wishful thinking and emotional excesses.
Mysticism can exist within the confines of religious dogma
but inevitably gets distorted by it. Even when people have genuine experiences of higher
states of consciousness in belief-based traditions, like many Christian mystics, the
dogmas and superstitions of their religions cast a shadow over these. Some such mystics
may get caught in delusions, thinking that they are another Jesus or that they are at war
with the devil and have to save the world. The mystification of salvation through belief
in a savior or prophet leads to much confusion and is incapable of really changing human
nature. This is because the impure mind mixes its own desires with any experience of the
Divine that it may be able to achieve.
The Vedic tradition, on the other hand, emphasizes the
impersonal and the eternal. It is not rooted in an historical revelation but in an
ever-evolving quest for truth. It recognizes both many ancient and many modern sages and
the individuals need for direct perception.