An Indian monk Vivekananda said: If you believe in god, pray for strength, courage, love and wisdom; anything else is selfish, egoistic. An Italian monk Francis of Assisi offers this prayer:
Here 'self-forgetting' is about disregarding our selfish, egoistic mentality; and 'dying' is about total eradication of our ego which leads to awakening. Different spiritual paths refer this timeless state as eternal life, kingdom of heaven, union with god, nirvana, enlightenment, etc.
Intuitively or with clear awareness, all spiritual paths originated to eradicate our ego – which is the source of all our suffering. Our ego is rooted in our greed and fear – and the spiritual path is supposed to give us courage and strength to go beyond our narrow selfish mentality. But this goes horribly wrong when people attach to their religion to strengthen their ego.
Instead of opening their arms, they build walls.
Instead of opening their hearts, they strengthen their self-righteousness and judgmental attitude (as if god needs our help with judging others).
Instead of love and respect, they force and dump their views onto others (as if god asks our help to enforce certain beliefs).
Instead of bringing light, they ignore and suppress even the obvious truth (as if god forbids intelligence and truth).
Instead of caring for fellow humans, they protect their religions and gods (as if god is impotent and powerless, and begs our help for protection).
As long as we hold such a childish notion, preachers and politicians continue to exploit us. We may not be the source of peace, harmony, love, joy… at the very least, we can stop this foolish arrogance!