A veil hides something. When something is hidden, we can’t see what it is or what it stands for. Therefore, when something is represented for something that it is not (and many times is opposite of what it represents), then we can say that it is veiled; it’s real nature is hidden. Religion, marriage and nationalism are represented as good, wholesome values. But is this actually true?
Isn’t it the norm for an extremist religious person to be hateful towards those who don-t believe, or believe differently? And that being the case, isn’t it normal for these people to then lack the capacity for forgiveness, even though the veil of religion says otherwise?
And if we are hateful, unforgiving, doesn’t that mean that we have no capacity for love, compassion, gentleness, kindness and happiness towards others, even though the veil of religion says otherwise? And if this is the case, wouldn-t one conclude that this kind of religion, which I posit is the predominate kind in America, be false and harmful to society?
If religion, instead of making a person humble, accepting, kind and generous; makes one haughty, conceited, all-knowing and controlling, what have we as a society gained by religion? And what has those that are religious gained when they are veiled from their true actions and just kidding themselves? They have certainly not gained heaven or anything close to heaven, and maybe even gained hell.
Religion is connected to marriage because marriage involves certain ideals such as love, truthfulness, fidelity, trust, and commitment. How many people can truthfully say that they are up to this? Maybe, like our respective religions, we live the ideals in our minds but when it comes right down to it, when the rubber meets the road in a long and close relationship, things can and usually do change. The divorce rate in America which is 78% Christian is 49 out of 100 marriages. In Thailand, which is 93% Buddhist, the divorce rate is 6 out of 100 marriages; the difference most certainly being how each country understands its religious ideals, and actually practices them. Also, the divorce rate in America is highest in the most religious areas, for instance in the Bible Belt, compared to the northeast.
It is self evident that divorce almost always breeds hatred. If you have ever gone through one you will understand. That means that about 49 out of 100 marriages in America have bred hatred, not counting the marriages still intact where people just can’t stand each other but put up with it for one reason or another.
And similar to Religion and marriage, mention nationalism and emotions immediately heat up. And this is the problem; emotions replace intelligence. Nationalism, per se, – that possessive feeling of “my” country – is all about feeling and never about common sense. Discussing governmental policies or what we should do as people living under certain customs, laws, traditions and mores is one thing, but to worship a symbol, be it some cloth that we have idolized as a flag, or an iconic image in our minds, leads to emotional reaction, and emotional reaction always leads to actions that are fragmented and incomplete because emotion takes over when intelligence is exhausted.
When we zealously, out of fear, advise a youngster to go and fight for his country, we are appealing to his or her emotions so that they don-t pause for a moment to consider all the political and economic ramifications involved. This is justified if an enemy is on our doorstep, but if the conflict is politically or idealistically generated, if the nationalism is just a ploy to keep people confused and ignorant about the economic unfairness and class injustices, then underneath all of the political manipulation of the innocent in the name of nationalism is hatefulness and fear, which is a veil of hatred.
These three veils have caused humankind untold heartaches, yet they project themselves in deluded minds as iconic standard-bearers of all that we hold precious. Is it time to wake up to real human values instead of veiled icons? Or will we remain asleep forever?
Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of -A Year to Enlightenment.- His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.
He livedatWatPah Nanachat under AjahnChah, at WatPah Baan Taad under AjahnMaha Boowa,and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at ShastaAbbey,a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under RoshiKennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarikaat both AmaravatiMonastery in the UK and BodhinyanaramaMonastery in New Zealand, both under AjahnSumedho.The author has meditated with the Korean MasterSuengSahnSunim; with BhanteGunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master TrungpaRinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the InsightMeditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the ZenCenterin San Francisco.