Few events have led to more wars and violence than religions. Carl Gustav Jung said something like every religion is like frozen water in the wake of mystical experiences.
That peace begins with our selves, tuning inward, may sound like an empty phrase to many of us. But this is serious business. If we understood the metaphors in religious stories, most of the worldwide suffering for thousands of years could have been avoided.
An example: The endless war between Israel and Palestine (gradually with other states involved having their own interests in the conflict). «The Holy Land», as «God» according to the Bible gave to Abraham – is not a physical country. It’s an inner «land» (-scape). That «God» promised this land to all his descendants, means that this inner landscape («Holy Land») is available to all. So for those of you whom yearn for the «Holy Land» - it’s about time to lay down your weapons and seek inwards. That's the only place were it can be found.
Example two: The Virgin Birth. If we look at Joseph Campells statement, we have those who take the story literally. They believe Mary gave birth to Jesus without having sex with Joseph. The other group dismisses the whole story as bullshit. To conceive a child without sex is impossible! But this story is a metaphor! It’s a inner conceive - and possible birth - that is available for all.
These examples and explanations are by no means complete – hopefully they will give you a taste of the significance of understanding and the needed respect for metaphors.
And then there is the story about Aladdin and the magic lamp. Or the Norwegian folktale about the wife who received three wishes. Or all the myths that symbolizes the soul and the collective unconscious. That will be for another time.