Against The Stream ~ SHEEP

IF YOU MADE CAKES for sale, you would not tell people they taste terrible, would you? You would like to sell them, so would say they taste great!

Many people are trying to convince others that their way alone is right and that therefore others are wrong; they are all trying to sell something. But can they demonstrate that their way is best, with conclusive evidence? They say their way is the best, of course, but does merely saying something make it true? Are we so naïve as to believe everything people say?

The most-vocal of such people are those who say that everyone who doesn’t believe as they do will go to Hell forever (isn’t it embarrassing to hear people say such things these days, when we are better educated than ever before?) According to them, all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and even Catholics (unless they are the ones saying it, as is sometimes still the case), etc., are sure to go to Hell.

One particular sect— known as ‘Jehovah’s Witlesses’ — is well-known for going from door-to-door pushing their narrow beliefs; they believe that of all the billions of people who have ever lived on this Earth, are living now, and will live, only 144,000 will be ‘saved’ and go to Heaven— and of that miniscule number, all but 9,000 have already been chosen! Can we imagine anything more silly? How can people even consider such things, unless from the egoistic desire to feel superior to others?

Compare such narrowness with the expansiveness and all-embracingness of Buddhism, which exhorts us to think about all beings, and holds out the possibility of Enlightenment for all! (The Jehovah’s Witlesses, by the way, are very fond of predicting ‘The End of the World’; no less than six times have their predictions failed to come true— 1914, 1918, 1925, etc.— and now they are doing it again. They obviously can’t wait for it to happen, because they believe that only when it does, will Jesus come again. From this, we can easily see that fanatics have a vested interest in starting another World War— a war to end everything— feeling they have nothing to lose but everything to gain! The USA has more than enough of its fair share of such people).

If it is really as these people say, and if we were to say to them: "Look here, the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Confucius, and countless other great people didn’t believe in Jesus or accept him as their personal savior, so, according to you, where will they be now?" they would be forced to say: "In Hell, of course, with all the other non-believers!" So, if we must go to Hell merely because we don’t believe in Jesus as they do, we shall be in good company there, no? But maybe they got the words mixed up, and have confused up with down, Heaven with Hell.

To believe and follow blindly is to be like sheep, and sheep, as we know, are timid and rather foolish. They are usually kept together, in flocks, and if, for some reason, one of them gets scared and starts to run, the others will automatically follow, without understanding why.

In the abattoirs of Australia, so I’ve heard, are sheep especially trained to lead unsuspecting groups of other sheep in to be slaughtered; the trained sheep then come out to lead in another batch, until finally, it’s their turn, and they don’t come out alive again. Such sheep are called ‘Judas sheep’, after the disciple who betrayed Jesus.

Many humans are similar to sheep in the way they follow others. Some of us will follow anyone— it doesn’t matter whom or where he leads, as long as the followers need not think for themselves or accept responsibility for their own lives. It is nothing to be proud of, to be like a sheep, yet that is how the followers of the world’s largest religion describe themselves.

We should listen to others with open minds, not with minds full of prejudice (that is: pre-judgment). But this does not mean we should accept everything that every Tom, Moses or Matthew tells us, as that would be foolish. We should use our intelligence, our sense of discrimination, and try to separate the true from the false.

And, if you are tired of people coming to your door to pressure you to accept their religion— and if they are Christians of one of the myriad sects or another, as is usually the case— try this on them: Ask if they themselves really believe that the Bible is the ‘Word of God’, as they so loudly claim. They will almost surely say "Yes, I do!" Then ask them to turn to the Book of Mark, chapter 16, verses 17 and 18, in the Bible they always carry with them, and read it aloud. They will read this: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they will cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them". Ask the person at your door if he/she is prepared to undergo a test of his/her faith. Tell him you have a variety of poisons in your home— weed-killer, rat-poison, oven-cleaner, etc.— which you could mix with syrup to make a sweet drink; would he be willing to drink it? It is highly unlikely he would accept this challenge, even though the Bible says that a believer wouldn’t be harmed thereby. It is a guarantee against that person coming to your door to bother you again!

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