The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 11

Religions, as psychic destiny.

A religion is a part of the psychic destiny of a human and the religions of any time are those which are suited to the feelings and desires of the people and give them the training they need. A human is generally attracted to that religion which offers him bargains here and hereafter or which causes him to fear. Persons seeking power over others, and who are more familiar with the psychic nature, its weaknesses and its needs, will guarantee their religion to fill these wants. Man continues or changes his religious belief according to his understanding of nature, but he does not know this.

Religions are concerned with the emotions and the four senses. Their range is from the belief of the lowest savage to the refined emotions of the cultured. A religion may be known by what it offers to its adherents. It offers always things of the senses, beauties to the eye, music to the ear, feasts for the palate, incense for the nostrils and, for the emotions, joyful and tragic feelings and consolation. Fasts and penances and asceticism are things of the senses. The vast majority cannot get along without this kind of religion. It gives them a moral code, teaches them to distinguish right from wrong and consoles them in their moments of anguish. Such religions were necessary in the past and they are necessary at this time. It is a mistake for those who are or think they are more enlightened, who may themselves get on without it, to persuade others that such a religion is unnecessary. It is necessary until people outgrow it.

These psychic religions set up a standard of morals and offer training for the emotions. While religions allow the play of these emotions in an etherealized state after death, they put a restraint upon their wild and selfish tendencies during life. Different religions are fitted for different peoples and different classes. According to the psychic needs of a people a religion will be furnished. If they follow the best of its teachings and keep to the highest standards that it sets, that religion will be a blessing to them. If they practice the worst phases, it and its priests will prey upon their weaknesses; then that religion will be to them a tax, a burden and a curse, from which they will find it difficult to escape. Even if a religion is more than a psychic religion, as when it takes on mental and noetic aspects, it will be applied psychically by persons in whom the psychic nature predominates, and these are the vast majority.

Psychic aspects of religions are seen in missions, camp meetings, revivals and cures. There the convert is usually worked up to and kept in a psychic condition before he can be cured or “saved.” This takes place at a meeting where the evangelist is of a magnetic and emotional nature, starting and keeping up an emotional whirl which acts upon the psychic natures of those present. The new sensation appeals to their feelings, and “conversion” follows.

Other phases of the psychic aspect of religions are masses, hymns, liturgies, creeds, prayers, ceremonies and ornaments, which all affect the psychic nature. But there the effect is steady or at least seasonal, while at the revival it is spasmodic.

To raise humanity, religions should not appeal to the selfish instincts in man by fostering a belief that he need not pay his debts, since some man or God has suffered or will suffer for his sins. Religions should elevate him from the sordid business world of profit and loss and the whirl of psychic attractions to a moral standard, where deeds are done for the sake of right and duty, not from the fear of punishment or hope of reward. The moral education of the doer must be carried on in a manner which will affect it.

Just how undeveloped human beings are, can best be seen in their religious beliefs and in their stories and scenes that have given them religious comfort in the hour of need or have kept them, as far as possible, on the path of virtue. They worship nature gods whom they themselves have made by their thinking, and cling to a particular form of nature worship until the cycle changes. Then the old traditions are taken away, and new names are given to beliefs and institutions which stretch back to earlier times. After new names and personalities are substituted, these are declared by the priests to be a divine revelation and made to center around a new God or set of gods. The old beliefs are denounced and the old gods are vilified as devils. Bloodshed, war and struggle are the means of educating these doers because of their desires.

Such are the ways by which the human beings try to work themselves out of their ignorance. When human beings worship in sincerity, not with mere formality, they worship the Intelligence, in whatever form they worship nature gods. If they do not worship sincerely, but for self-interest and with hypocrisy and deceit, they have taken the road back to nature.

All religions then come into existence and continue their central deity or deities and heaven and hell, as long as they are desired, for the education of human beings along moral lines. Science and intelligence and knowledge are not essential to religions.

Owing to the doer’s choice and action in its early human history it is nourished from the four elements, the nature-mother, through a religion, as the fetus is nourished through the umbilical cord. When the fetus has attained its growth, the child is born and the cord is severed. A religion is like the umbilical cord; it connects the doer with nature. The four senses serve as an umbilical cord. Through a religion the doer wants to be nourished and to grow. When it has received all that a religion can give it and has attained its growth, then, for its development, there must be a severance from that religion. But, unlike the fetus, the doer must sever itself. It does this by a new growth. This is the effort to see and understand. Understanding is to the doer as taking breath is to the newborn babe. The child by taking breath changes its circulation and establishes it in its relation to its new source of life. By taking Light the doer severs itself, and changes its nourishment from feeling or belief to understanding, and so it, as the psychic part of the Triune Self, makes its connection with reason. Its understanding is by the Light it receives from rightness-and-reason of its Triune Self. This is a part of the degree of the Entered Apprentice in true Freemasonry.