The worshipper in a temple or mosque or church holds within his mind a picture of what he believes God to be. That picture is purely a metal image and he is worshipping that image, not Reality. This image has come down to him by tradition through hundreds of years, perhaps, and backed by the force of the great organised religions though it may be, still it is only an idea passing though his mind, a picture which he has held because other people have suggested it to him.
Because he is worshipping an idea, something which by its very nature is not eternal, but comes and must eventually go , as all ideas must, he has not found Reality, and from the standpoint of deep enquiry he is even worshipping an illusion, if by the word “illusion” we mean that “which is not real”, and if by “reality” we mean “that which is true and eternal and abiding.”
It may seem like an appalling statement to say that millions of people have been worshipping their own idea, which they take to be God. Surely, you will point out that, in religious buildings we often feel a holy presence. How is that we are awed in such a place, and that these religions have, during their best days cast a spell over the people?
It is because the power which man has found in religion, the power to help him and lift him up, has come from within himself. He himself has given himself the guidance, help, exaltation, and spiritual consolation which he believed he found in his church or in his faith or in his idea of God. When man has learnt to build a quiet church inside his own heart and to be a ministering priest to his own self, religion will have done its true work.
Man has unconsciously deceived himself into thinking that an external power, something outside of himself has come to his help or guidance. This was his only belief, man himself through his own inner resources and concentration drew out from within himself, from his own spirit, that which he thought came from God whom he believed to be outside of himself.
So if man wishes to awaken, if he wants to understand himself, he must face the the fact that the real avenue to contact with God is not outside himself, but within, directly inside. He must find his own way to God through and within himself. That is, if he seeks God, there is no other way, but if he is looking for ideas, concepts or mental images, then he can take what orthodox religions and cults offer him. And because most people have been content to let others do their thinking and their questioning for them, they have been satisfied with these answers.