August 9, 2017 | by Reed Summers
The Messenger Marshall Vian Summers has just released a teaching on the mind, religion and “The Fortress of Belief.”
Immediately, I see what a powerful teaching this is for each and every one of us, no matter what our faith, or even if we have no faith. The Messenger is calling us to cultivate the “inner sanctum” of our experience and to safeguard our mind from creating walls and barriers and ultimately a “fortress of belief” against others whose beliefs are different from our own.
Unfortunately, this is how religion, which is meant to unite people beyond their differences, has become a force for differentiation, separation and ultimately conflict in the world.
“To be a fortress of belief means that you believe you have enemies because at the level of belief, there will always be other people and groups and even nations of people who seem to stand in marked contrast, opposed to your beliefs. And from this position, you become condemning and judgmental; you make people enemies who you do not even know. You make vast assumptions about other people’s faith traditions, not really understanding them or how they too are connected to God’s greater Plan for the world.” Marshall Vian Summers
It is so important to stay close to the movement of life itself and not allow the forces of Separation, which are strong in this world, to quietly claim us, shunting us into a closed mind, a closed group, a closed position in life.
But how? Our minds are shaped and conditioned by experience, creating ever stronger pathways of thought and belief for better or worse. How can the mind engage with the world, having new thoughts and creating new beliefs without becoming anchored and enclosed by those thoughts and beliefs? How do we prevent a fortress of opinion and attitude from hardening around us, preventing us from having a truly original experience of life?
These are questions on my mind and this message from Marshall is addressing them very directly.
“Your mind must have entrances and exits—entrances for new ideas to come in, new understanding to bloom, an expansion of your current views, a challenge to your current beliefs, growth, a deepening of your experience of the Divine Presence and Power. And your mind has to have exits where old things can leave you, where old ideas no longer needed can fall away or an earlier understanding can be eclipsed by a greater and new understanding.” Marshall Vian Summers
Here Marshall is speaking of a mind able to engage dynamically with life—with open doors for new experiences, new thinking and ongoing re-thinking and also with open exits to cleanse out and release old, untrue and unhealthy thoughts, attitudes and perspectives.
This is how the power of Knowledge, the spiritual mind within us, can continue to move through our thinking mind as we go through the ongoing challenges of life, accumulating new thoughts and experiences along the way. Marshall said in this recent teaching, “God moves through people, places and things like the wind.” But to create a healthy draft— a current of air—there must be both an open window for the air to move in as well as an open window for the air to move out.
The mind is shaped and conditioned by experience, by habit, by repetitive thought. Left undirected, the mind tends to harden, ruminate on the past, justify the past using the present and look upon reality through an increasingly fixed lens, whether it be a religious lens, a philosophical lens or simply a lens of unquestioned attitudes, assumptions and opinions about life.
Here religion can be a great gift or a great problem. Religion can justify a powerfully fixed lens, causing us to become rigid and righteous and automatic in our view of others and of life. Or it can inspire an opening and a renewal of our view of life, honoring our mind and its need for a lens through which to see but empowering us always to upgrade the prescription of that lens when necessary.
Religion can help us hold open a space in our experience for the mystery. Holding open the door to the mystery allows us to take an ever renewing position on life. With this renewal comes humility. None of us can fully understand the reality of God, the world, the universe but we can all have a direct and personal experience of these things. I feel it is this original experience that liberates us from the Fortress of Belief.
I have now travelled the world with the Messenger, sitting with him in mosques, churches and temples, looking up in awe at the infrastructure of religion—great houses of worship, great buildings of faith, great physical establishments in the name of God or a teacher, prophet or messenger of God.
In those places I have felt both a moving, spiritual presence and also a lockdown of rigid belief, and neither was associated in any way with the grandeur of the building or the religion being practiced. The smallest room of meditation or the greatest hall of prayer could feel either like a life-giving well in the desert where God is truly present or an institutional center of rules and requirements. It all depended on what people brought into that space and if the entrances and exits in the minds of those people present there were truly open to the movement of life.