Monday, December 21, 2009

Can You Spot The Difference?


Religion and spirituality, it seems that these two always go together, like peanut butter and jam. You would think they were synonymous. No wonder people are so confused. The two actually have so little in common that they could as easily be seen as opposites. They do share one common feature. They are both ways of responding to the desire for union. We are spiritual beings and so we have this impulse. If I were to suggest a short definition of spirituality it would be this: the process of merging oneself with, by surrendering to, a greater unity, AKA God, AKA Infinite Awareness, AKA Truth. No one can know the path of another. It is a journey, not a guided tour.

It is possible to temporarily sate this desire for union through substitutes. Falling in love is one way. One might also identify with one's nationality or cultural group or even a sports team. We take such pleasure in these things because they allow us to transcend our little ego selves. These are easily seen as substitutions for the ultimate and true Oneness that is the guiding star of the mystic. Religion falls into the same category as these other sops and distractions. It pretends to be what it is not. It claims to deliver what it serves to distract from and prevent.

Occasionally, genuine spiritual seekers will make use of a religion as a mythical narrative to assist their understanding. There is almost no end to the number of stories that could serve this purpose and religious stories aren't really special. Unless these mystics are very discrete, they fall afoul of their own religious authorities in the process. Priests do not approve of this sort of thing. Religions are threatened by any real spiritual progress on the part of their followers. That's because religions are not spiritual paths. They are belief/control systems. Examining and questioning one's beliefs is an essential, important part of any true spiritual path and religions can't have that. It would undermine their power and authority.

You can always spot a religion by it's focus on rewards and punishments, the old carrot and stick. Sometimes it's heaven or hell, sometimes karmic boons or debts. All that is required is belief and obedience. I find such threats and promises inappropriate and offensive. Is union with the divine not considered enough of a prize? Is the experience of separation from It not painful enough?

Morality is whatever the religious authorities tell you it is. You're not supposed to develop the ability to determine it for yourself. You are not qualified. Never mind what you know in your heart. Religion actually destroys our ability to be truly moral by demanding that we choose against what we know to be true. Once again an important aspect of spiritual growth is headed off at the pass. Every time I hear that phrase, religion and spirituality, I have to suppress my gag reflex.

Another case of misrepresentation exists with regards to science. There is confusion always between science and scientism. Again, we have a belief system masquerading as a path to truth. I've actually heard, on more than one occasion, the statement: "As a scientist, I believe...". Real science is an open-minded method of discovery. There is no a priori reason for it to restrict itself to the physical. It's early representatives simply agreed to do so to avoid stepping on religion's toes (for obvious reasons). Scientism is defined by it's belief that matter is the primary reality. There is no evidence that this is so, and plenty to refute it. Refusing to admit the existence of anomalous facts in order to defend one's beliefs is not science. It's pretty much the same as religion. Ironically, this is why religion and scientism will never agree. Science and spirituality already do.

2 comments:

  1. Preach it, sister! As usual, the simplistic dialectic of religion versus scientism that has developed in recent centuries shows every appearance of serving primarily to divide the cultural mind. One side says, 'this is true, that false', the other 'that is true, this false'. Matter and spirit both exist: one is the other and vice versa. However the opposing camps take this truth and divide it, making two 'true lies'. One side appeals to a certain broad personality type, the other to another, and so two larges groups of humanity are set against one another.

    Of course, a lie is complex in proportion to its, size (just as truth is simple in proportion to its completeness.) Thus religion and scientism become endlessly intricate systems, requiring a lifetime of study to 'understand'. And how many will question what they have invested so much of their selves in studying? To say nothing of the assistance this complexity lends to those who do the most to perpetuate the system, the professors and priests whose admonishments to society at large come down to, "Believe what I tell you." Of course no scientist would ever admit this - conditional belief is a hallmark of the scientific method - but the forbidding and bewildering edifice of modern science (necessitated, in my view, by ignoring the role of mind in physical theory) has the effect of encouraging most people to quietly take science on the same faith they openly give to religion.

    This long deception is coming to an end. Religion will not survive the opening of the Vatican library: Christianity, revealed as the unequivocal creation of Babylonian sorcerers, will be the first to crumble, but the crisis in confidence will extend to every other exclusionary metaphysical belief system. As for scientism, where shall it be when it is revealed (as it must be) that they have been lying, complicit in lying or duped by lies about extraterrestrial contact, suppressed technologies, and all manner of paranormal phenomena? Climategate, working its way through the collective subconscious as we speak, will be a foretaste of this.

    I'll admit, I regard these events with no small trepidation. Religion and Science are the bulwarks of most of the world's people's reality tunnels. Once removed any sort of insanity might result.

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  2. Hi Psychgram. The end of deception can't come soon enough for me. I get so tired of being lied to constantly. The bright side is that maintaining deception on such a scale takes time and energy on the control system's part. It starts with one lie but then another is required to defend that one, and so on...
    It can't go on forever or even much longer but the suspense is terrible.
    The book based religions are doomed, thankfully, since they are based on lies and control. The non-literal, celebratory and inclusive forms of group worship, like Wicca, will probably increase in popularity. Science has a lot of potential if only it can accept that matter is an epiphenomenon of consciousness and not the reverse.
    Our civilisation is certainly going to be roughly shaken. I don't feel like I can make any plans with so much up in the air. I think the best preparation is strengthening our intuition and trusting that it will guide our actions and timing. I do think that whatever chaos ensues will be short-lived and any mass insanity can't be much worse than what already exists. Also, we can't rule out a miracle. In fact, sometimes I think that's what it will take if our species is to survive. It will be interesting for sure.

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