Buddhism, christianity, community, culture, God, history, Life, poetry, religion, spirituality, Zen
Can we do it?
Can we live without the backstory, the underpinning of … God, for want of another term?
I mean, God works, sort of, and to a certain limited extent. The trouble is communities have always been local affairs, rooted in environment and tailored to the rhythms, wants and needs of the land. Live amidst trees and mountains and one’s Gods take on the quality of trees, mountains, the skies above and rivers flowing down from on high. One dances to their rhythms and learns oneness with community within the context of trees, mountains, sky and river, plus of course whatever serves as food sustenance.
Live amidst the grassy plains hunting and then herding the large animals at hand and again the Gods reflect that reality. How many differing circumstances have humankind managed to find themselves amidst, how many Gods we’ve summoned forth from within to reflect and embody ourselves and the world!
Now, our cultures having spanned the immensity of the globe, our Gods seek to encompass such diversity. But can they? Of the thousands upon thousands of human-evoked Gods from the darkest reaches of the past a mere handful remain, tenacious, unwavering. Uber-Metaphors instilling and inspiring and ultimately dividing us.
Uber-Metaphors to be overcome, transcended.
Relicts of the past, impediments to the future.
There is only Life, sacred Life, just as it is. The flowing through from one generation to the next and then down into the next again.
It’s interesting that your thoughts should run so close to mine today.
I have been observing an interesting phenomenon happening very, very quietly. A surprising number of gods popularly thought of as dead because they don’t have followers in the media are being revived. I’m seeing people – often very independent, scientific-minded people – reaching back to old gods, ancestral gods, or gods of people who were never their ancestors.
I cannot deny that spiritual experience seems to perform functions for our brains that mere rational thought won’t. Major world religions, like Buddhism, have been created without relying on the relational aspects – but many people seem to benefit tremendously from the relational aspects of talking to deities or other spirits.
More than that, removing deities doesn’t actually seem to fix the problem. As atheism gains social strength, it seems to be reacting just like theistic religions have done under the same circumstances – as atheism becomes a mark of social acceptability, atheists suspect and persecute the religious in very much the same way the religious once persecuted them (and for very much the same reasons – belief that somebody who doesn’t hold your beliefs must be either irrational or immoral).
Carl Jung would have called our relationships with our many deities “talking to ourselves,” I think. And I think the key to the modern era may lie, not in ceasing to talk to ourselves, but in recognizing more that that’s what we are doing.
Which would be why I just finished writing an article about the need I see for two tenants in the religious discourse of the 21st century – “live and let live” and “separate the person from the idea.”