When we erect our own ashram poles we fail to see the forest for the ‘trees’.
Everyone needs a god, something they can look up to, model themselves after, pray toward. A god is a direction toward which we cast our collected cosmic energy. We all need them because without them we might realize we are clods of mud on a hunk of rock floating in dark space. A god acts as gravity to plant our feet and our hearts. A god acts as sun and water to help us grow.
Now, do not misinterpret my words. These gods are not the whole of the Divine Nature, they are not the Unnamable and Unnamed G_D. They are simply our imperfect replacement of that Divine Ideal Will. Once a human has this realization either consciously or instinctually s/he looks down at the self and begins to pick out individual and personal gods. This is a most dangerous and difficult process but one that will naturally occur. These gods become our own personal biases and ideals, our dreams and our hopes (a suitable term for these personal deities would be concept-gods).
When we see them within ourselves we see them in others. When we embrace them in ourselves we love others for them. When we try to move past them in ourselves we hate them in others.
The creation of an internalized personal deity initially provides power for its creator to achieve a firm grasp on some aspect of life. It is the condensation and internalization of some desire and is much akin to the theory of attraction and intentionality. It is through this manner that self-fulfilling prophecies are made. Such prophecies are dangerous indeed.
It is very easy to become trapped by these created deities. I look at the minor gods of world-myth and see how each one might have been used first as an idea to limit the uncontrolled power of nature. A god of fire might have helped a human overcome his natural fear of fire so that he could take up a lit torch against the darkness of night and the hungry creatures that inhabited such darkness. A god of the sea might have helped another human overcome his fear of the power of the waves and wind and dark depths where aquatic beasts lurk. A god of love might have convinced a man he loved a woman so strongly as to go through all obstacles to win her affection. This is not to say the concept of a god dispelled all danger from these natural forces. In fact, these concept-gods would have impressed a human wielder with a greater understanding and respect for the inherent dangers. A human could utilize these powers because he knew the danger firsthand. I mean to say he internalized the danger and thus could function despite it.
Now we encounter a deeper danger inherent in a concept-god. It is no longer the simple bodily danger involved. Once a concept-god has been internalized it becomes a natural inclination to internalize the power of the god. However, once this concept of power-internalization begins hubris follows close behind and proves to the wielder that he does not truly hold the power over fire, or water, or love within him. He is still affected by externalized forces. Mistakes can still be made, mistakes that may even cost him his life.
The next step in the process is to transfer the internalized concept of power over the element to the internalized concept-god itself. This acts to move any blame of failure from the human to the concept-god. Once the power has been given over to the concept-god a human must entreat the deity for the power. Once the human makes such entreaties he has entered into servitude for a creation of his own mind. He has enslaved himself to a construct that was built initially to instill him with power over nature. This is why the Israelites were admonished to reject the worship of graven images, images of gods that were claimed to hold a power over natural elements, a power that never existed for humanity to begin with (not considering the almighty power of the Unnamable and Unnamed G_D who does not serve us but whom we cannot help but serve).
It becomes a very short step from concept-god to idol, perhaps no step at all. An idol is a personal limitation. It is some perceived and internalized force to make offering toward. This is the case whether or not that offering reaches its intended target.
Beware every outpouring of personal energy. That energy is real and does touch the fabric of the universe. Every movement you make is an offering. You had better know for sure where goes your offering of energy. By our careless movements we feed our limitations; so much worse when we make our movements intentionally with the recognition of our addictions to such limitations.
We may no longer make offerings to gods of fire or water or love but still our energy pours out from us. Still we believe in our own power over the elements. Still we have faith in our own creations.
What comes to your mind when you stop to consider your own outpourings of energy? What offerings do you make and for whom do you make these offerings?
I say this only because it will first take recognition of these personal gods to then find a way to abandon them. We must move through enemy territory to find the other side. Our concept-gods, imbued with our own power, do not wish to be cast aside. They live within us because of the energy and power we give up to them. Like all living entities they do not wish to die and will fight to live within our minds and within our societies.
Perhaps they would have us fight each other to distract us from their existence. Chances are my own personal gods are not your own and that difference will divide and conquer us if perceived negatively. We humans must find a way embrace our own differences and those of our neighbor if we are to survive. It is not enough to be so soft as to allow all possibilities. Neither is it enough to be so rigid as to allow no possibility but your own. There must be a middle ground. We will not find that space until we begin to give up our personal biases and set out in search of real Truth. It is out there even if we are destined to spend our entire existence following its tracks.
Let us take the first step, cease the sacrifices to our personal god, and instead make sacrifices of our gods themselves.