One of my favourite books in my early twenties was Richard Bach’s Illusions. It begins with the story of a water creature whose fellow beings spent their entire lifetimes clinging to the river bottom “for clinging was their way of life.” This one creature decided one day that its existence was absurd. “Clinging, I shall die of boredom,” it said and let itself go.
It went down the stream trusting itself to the current. The creatures downstream said, “See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the messiah, come to save us all!”
The creature told them that he was no messiah. That only they could be their own messiahs. He asked them to let go and embark upon the adventure that life really is.
But the creatures loved to cling. Clinging was what they were used to for generations and generations. Clinging, they made stories about a Messiah who came to deliver them once upon a time.
Richard Bach’s story ends there. We may carry on and say that the creatures erected a church (or temple or mosque or whatever) and installed an image of the Messiah, their God. Then they made scriptures. Rituals followed soon. Some people emerged as priests to interpret the scriptures. Interpretations varied. The community split into sects. More churches (or temples or mosques or whatever) were erected. The shape of the God changed a little from church to church. Maybe the colour changed too. And then people started fighting for the sake of the shape or the colour of their own God’s image.
PS. The real teaching of the perceived Messiah – that life is an adventure, don’t cling, let go – was never understood. In spite of the churches (or temples or mosques or whatever), priests, other leaders and their warriors.