Discard utopian fantasies. Those who tell you that heaven is a future outcome that you should help them produce through political reform and political salvation are misleading you. Even if they are sincere, they are still false prophets. To be more specific, they are using the word heaven in a way that may not be good at all for YOU. So, beware of them.
Heaven is eternal. That means it is always available without any required rituals (or reform campaigns). Rituals can certainly promote the awareness of heaven. Rituals do not bring heaven to someone. They bring someone to notice the eternal presence of heaven.
What exactly is heaven? It is one possible human condition. Heaven has often been described, for instance, as peaceful or serene.
Can someone already be peaceful or serene? Is a ritual required to be peaceful or serene? Is there any intermediate step required as a pre-requisite for being peaceful and serene (or is serenity always directly available… even to one who has been anxious or panicking)?
Of course, it is fine for people to be loyal to a custom without understanding it. People learn the custom itself before they learn the reasons for it, just like a small child is first taught to only cross a road while holding the hand of an adult. The child is trained to conform as a priority and understanding the custom is simply not the first priority.
So, one problem can be when people who do not understand a custom begin to worship it (often presuming that they do understand it). How do they relate to the custom? First, they glorify it (often relating to it as a practice that should be universal, rather than something that is merely customary or routine). Soon, they may bully others even for as small an issue as failing to glorify the custom.
Why are they so insecure about whether others glorify a custom? The reality is that they do not understand the custom. They have a social anxiety about any lack of conformity to the custom because they are terrified of the possibility that someone might question- even respectfully- the value or function of the custom.
They are far from heaven. They are in the temporary distress of hell. Their blind conformity to customs does them no good in regard to accessing heaven because customs are not the way to access heaven.
The child who is waiting for the adult so that they can cross the road together is not conforming to access heaven. In fact, they may be rather impatient, yet still conform. Conformity can be very valuable, but worshiping conformity can be an immense risk.
Alertness is a different state than blind conformity. When someone is obsessing about customs, they are not being attentive to what is actually happening. They are in a state of latent panic (a state of anxious, hysterical distress).
When groups of people get together to encourage each other to neglect actual alertness and logic in order to obsess over whatever customs they agree to worship as the best customs, that can lead to very risky behavior for the entire group. They are like a group of mountain climbers who are operating on a protocol that is relevant for boating.
By obsessively doing the things that are very appropriate while boating, they can create immense dangers. They discard alertness and wisdom in order to have the social validation of the group.
Those who insist on boating their way up the mountain might be overly enthusiastic. Of course, they also might ridicule anyone who questions the prudence of their boating protocol while climbing a mountain.
“Oh, and look at those fools who are using a legal protocol to climb the mountain. They are consulting their lawyers about the best way to climb. What fools?!?! Don’t they see that climbing a mountain requires other customs and routines than winning a court case?”
Note that fundamentalists have no issue with questioning other forms of fundamentalism. In fact, in order to distract themselves from their own hysteria, they may ridicule the hysteria of others “religiously.”
The boaters fell much better after reassuring themselves that their critics can be dismissed as fanatics and fundamentalists. Instead of acknowledging any intelligent questions, they seek out the most bizarre criticisms to ridicule those critics and ignore the presence of actual skepticism, which is the real threat to them and their blind arrogance. To avoid admitting to the existence of skeptics (to the idea of boating protocols as the best way to climb a mountain), the boating loyalists focus on the idiocy of the legalistic mountain climbers.
They may agree that the legalistic mountain climbers are similar to them in that everyone is climbing mountains. That will be considered a small justification for a pretense of respect for the legalists. “At least they are smart enough to be climbing a mountain, but they are a bunch of arrogant, blind conformists!”
People who are not climbing the mountain at all generally are ignored by the boating mountain climbers and the legalistic mountain climbers. Further, people who are actually at the top of the mountain are generally ignored as well. No, let’s complain instead about that other group nearby to us who are going up the mountain about as slowly as we are.
If we do talk about the folks at the top, the legalists and boaters might briefly agree though. “How did those people at the top of the mountain get there? They must have broken the rules to get there! They are there unjustly. They cheated by using mountain climbing equipment. That is unethical and it is disrespectful of the mountain to wear spikes on your shoes while climbing. It damages the mountain! It causes erosion! It makes a smooth footpath up the mountain that is easy to follow… and that could lead to even more people trying to access the peak without the proper sailing equipment!”
“Come down here right this instant and get proper documentation from us or else… or else… or else we are going to sit right here and wait for you because those are some steeps slopes between you and us. You are under arrest!”
So, people who are smart enough to keep a safe distance from any group of fanatics are better off than those who rashly climb mountains enthusiastically as they worship the customs relevant for sailing. The recluses have a better chance of figuring out for themselves what works well for mountain climbing. They are not avoiding learning (like those who are worshiping the customs of sailing and are totally inattentive to the actual process of climbing the mountain).
The idea that customs were created by people is considered a simple fact by some groups. Other groups call such “accusations” by the label of “heresy.” “How could our customs which are eternal and proclaimed by God be anything like the customs of other groups who also claim that their customs are eternal and were proclaimed by God. They are illogical and insane and hysterical and heretical. Now, let’s go kill them so that they do not confuse future generations with displays of curiosity and skepticism.”
Rumors that the group now at the top of the mountain would ever encourage bickering and warfare amongst the boaters and the legalists are quite unpopular among the boaters and legalists. According to the tradition of both of those two groups, the theory of a conspiracy to keep the boaters and the legalists fixated on fundamentalism and animosity between the two groups is called by the very evil label of a “conspiracy theory.”
For both groups, how do they relate to the theory that their own religious customs were influenced by or even created by another group in order to dominate and exploit the naive and foolish and arrogant? They ignore it and focus on the stupidity of those who attempt to climb mountains without the use of sails (when the critics are the boaters) or with the use of sails (when the critics are the legalists).
What would be really utopian, according to you, is if the world was one day in the future permanently rescued from all customs. Customs themselves are the big problem, right?
Those who assert that there is such a thing as irony or sarcasm or parody are probably just a bunch of reverse psychologists and their conspiracy theories can be instantly discarded as no more relevant to mountain climbing than the customs of that other group of fanatics over there who are so unlike us. They are blind. They are conformists. They are worshiping trivia and neglecting what is best.
“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ 8“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”