Clarifying spirituality for the 21st century
I, too, write occasionally about religion and spirituality. My perspective has come to be how to restore a healthy spirituality to the human paradigm. The destruction of spirituality has created the opening for opportunists of various types to step in and use religion as a scam just as you say. Why does this happen?
I can appreciate your goal of recovering religion. Unfortunately I think this is a hopeless quest. Needless to say this is the stated purpose of most of the people, I think, who have retained some connection to religion as something other than a political dog whistle. I’ll reserve my comments for America as it is one of the few post industrial states with more than a tiny percentage of people still involved in religion. The situation is different in for other pre industrial and industrial cultures struggling to escape the death grip of religiously justified authoritarian governments.
My position is to abandon religion and focus directly on healthy and effective spirituality. Take a moment to get over shaking your head and muttering about god and faith. I noted with interest the start of your essay but was troubled to see it slip back into the old treadmill of ‘faith’. In fact you even said it, faith is the absence of thought. You also said that if faith is only emotion and no thought it is inadequate, or words to that effect. Please correct me if I misunderstood.
Having dealt with and studied religious history for many years I came finally to the conclusion that we need to correct our terminology. Religion is based on myth and faith. Those are usually simply synonyms for ignorance. Why do you need them? Mythology is analogy and symbol in support of a logical system to provide an explanation for being and a means to overcome personal suffering. For some people these type of stories are useful for others they are not. Mostly they now seem to confuse the issues.
We have long sense been on the road to meaning as understanding the interconnectedness of all elements of this universe. That understanding in science and most other philosophical disciplines shows us that we are fundamentally an illusion acting as if we are real. Perhaps the whole universe is an illusion as part of a bigger illusion. Whether or not this is true we really can’t make too much of ourselves because that just heightens our anxiety.
At the same time we cannot make too little of ourselves, even as a functioning illusion, because that seems to be the nature of our universe and we can effect change here. What aid could willful ignorance (my definition of faith) be in working to understand the meta-structure of which we are a small recursive loop?
Our awareness and our ability to learn and understand are our greatest tools. This requires a spiritual platform of techniques to assist in managing our limitations and inherent failings as well as our successes and personal epiphanies. Spirituality is a personal toolkit to accomplish this.
Some of those tools can be found in religion but they are buried under centuries of failed systems. We no longer have either time for that or a need to cover ignorance. We need to be aware that we are not as ignorant as we once were and that changes the perspective we need to understand and communicate that understanding to others.
The social element of religion that is its primary reason for surviving can be found in many virtual or community groups if that is something you need. I don’t so i don’t worry about it.
Once you clarify the terminology and what is actually needed and for what purpose, religion and faith may be irrelevant. If you do need mythology and faith I suggest you be very careful as we are watching a nation being destroyed by a minority of its population that is enthralled by an illusion that cannot help but end up as a tool for manipulation.
I hope this helped a little.