As a person coming from a highly religious past, I sometimes find myself asking the world, what is religion's purpose?
The answer to that question is less dim and daunting as I initially felt.
For years, I've eyed religions as organizations created to control the weak-willed for money and power. That's all I had seen religion cultivate besides the occasional good samaritan and humble soul. The church was full of liars and manipulators with one intent--to be respected and treated as gods in their own right, based solely on their public good deeds, the amount of money they made, and their gender. The church was a black spot in my personal view of humanity and existence; a disease on the world that needed to be wiped away and disinfected to make humanity kind and human again.
This is where I discovered my mistake--the fact that religion is not the problem, but institutional organizations that surround religion.
As humans, we all have faults and failings. No one is less capable of falling on their face than the next person--no matter how much money is in our bank account. We all suffer from negativities that we have to filter through our mind and spirit. If we don't, we end up with anger, greed, jealousy, and other ugly things packed within us, blocking us from the ability to accept positive experiences and keeping us trapped in our own suffering.
That's where religion comes in.
Religion is the method we use to eliminate the negativity in our lives that generate suffering. It's a vehicle used to take us down our spiritual path.
The organizations are where the need for rules, power, and control come in and we have allowed organizations to define religion. Looking from the outside in, we see that the spiritual path is much the same for each person walking it, therefore all religions have themes and theories in common to help each of us reach our spiritual goal--positive growth and the attainment of happiness.
The existence of organizations is not a problem in and of itself, because they are created to help followers of a religion come together, organize, and grow together. It's the natural human tendencies of those with a low vibration to reach for power and personal gain wherein lies the problem. The spiritual path needs to be the primary focus where religion and organizations serve as a guide and not an authority.
"Institutions cannot be seen as more important than religion, and religion cannot be seen as more important than the spiritual path." -Lama Michel Rinpoche