(The Gnosticon, by Adi Da Samraj, pp. 31-33)
The Culturally Prescribed God-Idea of Exoteric Religion Is Not The Divine Itself
But Only A Cultural (And Entirely Conditional) Means For Turning To The Divine
In the Hindu cultural tradition, there is a great variety of forms of exoteric "religious" worship—each of which is centered around a particular culturally prescribed Divine image, idea, and mythology. That focus of worship (however conceived, in any particular branch of the Hindu tradition) is regarded as one's "Chosen Form" of the One Divine Absolute. The understanding within the Hindu cultural tradition (in its most profound developments) is that whatever "Chosen Form" a person may worship (in the exoteric manner) is the construct through which he or she is intended to turn to the One Divine Absolute. Thus, it is understood that one's (exoterically worshipped) "Chosen Form" is not the One and Absolute Divine Itself, but is (rather) the culturally prescribed means whereby one turns to the One and Absolute Divine—because the One Divine Absolute Itself is (within the most profound developments of the Hindu cultural tradition) understood to transcend all constructs (and, altogether, all limiting conditions).
This understanding of the nature of exoteric "religious" worship is correct. Indeed, all the various modes of exoteric "religion" (not merely in India, but in all parts of the Earth and in all periods of history) should (rightly) be understood to be varietal forms (or variant possibilities) of (exoteric) devotion to a "Chosen Form" of the Divine—or to a particular culturally prescribed (and, in accordance with tradition, described) Divine image, idea, and mythology.
Westerners often (mistakenly) presume Hinduism to be (irreducibly) a form of polytheism (and, as such, of non-monotheism)—or the worship of many different (or separate) gods, rather than the worship of One God (or of the One Divine Absolute). However, the right understanding of the Hindu "religious" tradition is not that it allows for a great number of separate Absolute Divinities (or otherwise disallows the One Divine Absolute). Rather, the right understanding of the Hindu "religious" tradition is that it, without prejudice, allows for the approach to the One Divine Absolute via (or by means of) any of the many possible "Chosen Forms" (or "Chosen-Form" traditions). The many different "Chosen Forms"—worshipped (in the exoteric manner) by different families or different local or regional cultures—are all presumed (within the Hindu cultural sphere) to be virtuous, because they are all understood to be means for turning to the Ultimate Divine (Which is, within the Hindu cultural sphere, understood to Be One, and to Be the Absolute and Only Reality).
The potential problem with conventional (exoteric) "religious" traditions (in general) is that any such tradition tends (or may tend) not to understand that its particular focus (or cult) of worship is simply one among many possible "Chosen Forms". Thus, any such tradition may tend to presume (or insist) that it is the tradition—the one and only true and right (and "officially" allowable) tradition. Such is the origin of fundamentalism. To the fundamentalist mind, the prescribed images (and the otherwise described ideas) of the cult define the Divine—as if the Divinity (or Reality Itself) has been "copyrighted", subject to exclusive "ownership" by a particular tradition of images and ideas.
When the exoteric traditions (themselves) thus replace the Divine (Itself) with their own contents, the result is (in effect) idolatry—which is what (characteristically) even the exoteric traditions themselves say should not be done. Rightly understood, the traditional admonitions against idolatry are not a matter of forbidding the worship (or worshipful use) of material images in temples. The "sin" of idolatry is any and every act (either personal or collective) of replacing the Divine Itself with the constructs of approach to the Divine.
All the exoteric "religious" traditions of humankind—with their many and different images, ideas, and mythologies—are (each and all) at least positively-oriented (if not, altogether, true and right) insofar as they are, in fact, oriented to ego-surrendering worship of the Ultimate Divine (Which Is Reality Itself). But all exoteric "religious" traditions are themselves (in every sense of their nature and origin) mere constructs—whether a given tradition has, in the case of any individual, been inherited from one's family (or one's local, or regional, or national, or even international culture) or has been intentionally embraced (from among any number of studied or somehow "experienced" alternatives) in the course of one's life.
Ultimately, the process of truly maturing in the Transcendental Spiritual practice of life in Reality Itself requires the transcending of all constructs. It is not that there must be no use of constructs whatsoever in one's approach to the Divine (or the One and Absolute Reality Itself). It is simply that all mere constructs must be understood to be such (and embraced only as such).
Ultimately, exoteric "religion" must become (or otherwise be superseded by) esoteric Transcendental Spiritual practice—the ego-transcending, body-mind-transcending, construct-transcending process of entering (by esoteric, and, in due course, Perfect, Means) into That Which is, inherently Beyond (and Prior to) all constructs and limitations.