There are two faces of religion; that which we profess, and that which we project. Our professed religion follows our scriptures and our beliefs and are what we declare to be our truths, our ideals. It's the talk we talk. Our projection of our religion is how we act, what we say, how we say it, and what and how we think. It's the walk we walk.

For example, we might profess love, but project (openly or surreptitiously) hatefulness if someone disagrees with our religion. The divergence between these two faces means that we could be living an hypocrisy, which indicates that we are not whole, not integrated, and therefore life becomes subconsciously unsatisfactory for us causing us to experience negative emotions all the time. We get depressed and don't know why.

We can reject the notion that we are hypocritically religious by justifying our hypocrisy, or even denying it, but instead if we can simply and honestly look at ourselves and see where we are at, we can begin becoming truly religious. After all, we want to be happy, and if we only believe that we are happy while at the same time expressing emotions that create unhappiness for ourselves and others, such as separation from others, anger, judgmentalism, self-righteousness, or conceit, then we are being hypocritical with ourselves.

If we find that we are indeed a persistent work in progress that doesn't seem to really improve at a deep level, for example with our depression, our anger, and maybe even our guilt, then a real possibility exists that either our religion isn't working for us, or we aren't working our religion. Working ones religion involves self introspection to see exactly where we are, not where we think we are. How do we feel about our neighbors? Do we truly love them or just tolerate them if they are Hindu, Moslem, Christian, Buddhist, Asian, White, Black or Latino?

This self introspection of course requires a clear observation of ourselves with the ego out of the way, and not just kidding ourselves. This is actually the first step in changing ourselves for the better; seeing clearly what is actually going in our hearts and what we publicly project, opposed to what we believe is going on. Are we angry? Depressed? Do we still worry, do we want things to always go our way? This is all symptomatic of believing that we have changed when in fact we have not changed at all.

A good test is when someone says to us that our religion is stupid, a child's fairy tale. How do we react? Usually, an undetected anger flairs up for a moment before the mind reacts psychologically and says "I am not an angry person so I will therefore feel sorry for this uninformed, unbelieving person." What happened there is a hypocrisy, not being in tune with your true feelings. And when we do that, we lie to ourselves which is breaking a commandment. We will never change this way, never become Christ-like, or Buddha -like.

We don't change because we can never see and accept what we actually are. We kid ourselves; we lie to ourselves in order to maintain a certain image of ourselves which we desire. But it is not truth.

Being only one-faced, not only in our religion but in our lives, is key to being integrated and in harmony. This means that we don't have to remember how to act because we allow our actions to be spontaneous. We don't pretend to be loving if we are hateful; we openly express our hatred, and in the reaction to that hatred within our relationships is the possibility of our changing. Then, our actions will truly reveal what we are and where we are with our religion. If we fake it by being one way one time and another way another time, then we never really reveal the real us, even to ourselves, and therefore can never really work on what our religious failings are.

Of course, if we are not interested in improving our lives and becoming basically religious and good people, and are content in just saying that we are, and only want to make points or win arguments to boost our egos, then our destiny in the next world will of course reflect that disingenuousness because we are only using our religion as a weapon, not as a way to become better human beings.

So if we find ourselves being two faced, we should delve deeply into our religion until we find the instructions on how we can integrate ourselves and become whole.

Without this, a life of hypocrisy will be a life lived subconsciously in uncertainty and confusion, while putting on a face of confidence and clarity.

Author's Bio: 

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of “A Year to Enlightenment.” His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.