If we become fixated only on the finger we never see the moon...
But perhaps without the finger many will not see the moon?
I have been fascinated by religion and spirituality ever since I was a child. I was always also fascinated by science, and at least when I was young I never really saw why there was such a divide between the two.
But in spite of an upbringing (or perhaps as a result of an upbringing) in which I was exposed, but never expected to practice or adhere to, many spiritual traditions and religious tenets I became through my teenage years extremely anti-religious.
I could see that so much evil had been perpetrated in the name of religion. I reviled at the literal interpretations of what appeared to me to simply be myths and legend and most of all I reviled at the absolute rejection of all that was not in one's religion and the exclusion of people who had done nothing wrong, to the point of hate.
Over the years though I began to see that what I was repulsed by was dogmatism and extremism, and this occurs in the most modern of religions - science - every bit as much as the theist tenets.
Religion in and of itself is not the problem. As with any system there is one simple fault - and that is greed.
Greed drives the hunger for power, the hunger for 'things' and the hunger that is perhaps the most powerful - the desire to be right.
But if we strip away the desire to be right, if we strip away extremism and dogmatism we are left with in religion, simply a set of devices; tools by which people can begin to connect directly with that which is greater than us.
If we agree (and I'm not expecting you to agree with my interpretation) BUT if we do agree that there is something more than us - call it universal energy, the divine, the super-conscious, God or simply LOVE, and that we are ultimately and intractably connected, then how we connect, how we begin to actually realise that is of some importance. And the experience of the divine can only be experiential. We cannot understand quantify in it's entirety the greater power that we have as human animals, the power of self-belief and most importantly the power of universal energy. To seek to do so is analogous to a cell in your body seeking to comprehend the entirety of your being. That cell is an intractable part of the whole, it is a facet of your own personal super-conscious. It feeds into, and is in turn fed by this consciousness, but on it's level the greater is unable to be comprehended.
People seldom realise the value of a moment. They seldom are able to have a moment of simply being as one with all. That experience - often called the 'direct experience of source' need not have any conduit to it. It may be spontaneous, it may be something achieved through simply being, or through the arts, or science or loving relationships, or simply watching seagulls drift across the sky. But those moments do often come through the tools we use to connect; the tools of prayer, meditation, contemplative exercise and other religious or spiritual devices. So why throw out the baby with the bathwater and reject wholly the valuable aspects of religion and spiritual traditions when the problems actually arise from the actions of greed?
They are not the moon - they are simply the fingers pointing to the moon.
Because I sit a certain way or I chant a certain word, or because I call that consciousness that we all share a particular name does not make my way right; it simply means I have found a way that makes sense to me - a path that resonates with my history, with my conditioning and that melds itself into my personal legend.
That path may change, it may shift, but in the experience of source one can only realise that all paths lead to the same place. It is then that devices seek to have importance and there simply is the man and the way and they are one.