Friday, 19 March 2010

Religion and Spirituality - understanding the common gound.

I have just published a Note on Facebook on my recent pondering about why we squabble so much about religion, spirit and scientific materialism. Views welcome.

My views are, should it come up:

That this universe is deeply connected - and that the connection will be scientifically demonstrated at some point.

That what we call 'God' or 'Life' or 'Love' is a 'Reality' in the sense that we are part of "All" that IS (the I AM of the old testament and John's Gospel).

That human beings can have (inner) awareness of the "Presence" (in life and love and being) of a divine light - a Reality perhaps coexistent with (pantheism) the Universe or perhaps both in and beyond (more than) our known Universe (panentheism).

That there have been many human beings who have been so open to the "presence" or the "Spirit" of the divine - known as much in our inner depth as in the world of form (life and beauty in nature and other human beings) - that they have made a deep mark in history. as religion founders, shamans, wise men and women etc (Abraham, the prophets, the Buddha, Lao Tse, Jesus, Muhammud, and other religion founders (actually it was their followers) and philosophers like Aristotle - even Isaac Newton)!
But that they are not of a different "substance" from us - just more deeply infused with the light of the divine thatn most if us - who are not truly "awake" to see.

That awakening is a goal for all intelligent beings, but a hard path - because in some ways it makes those who seek the Way different, and thus called to risk and challenge - and thus open themselves to ridicule or presecution or hate.

I am also aware that this is not the way Christianity is increasingly interpreted. It seems to me that what has happened is that after the Western enlightenment science and experience of the divine were divided - with experience of the divine being split as "life as religion" (orthodoxy of ancient words and practices) or "life as experience" (exploring paths to personal awakening to the inner light and presence). All 3 are warring somewhat and are scornful of the other paths. But all are ways to "gnosis" - God, the divine, is neutral surely about what little beliefs / doctrines we humans invent. God, the divine, is neutral surely about the practices we adopt to help us touch "presence" - neutral about hymns and words and chants and meditations. God, the divine, is not interested in what our science is beginning to tell us because s/he knows. BUt s/he honours all three ways that we search.
What we need to do is grasp the big picture that embraces the hsitory of all human culture and will see us one day among the stars within the physical reality of the universe and deep within as our religions and sporitualities take us there too, so that more and more we are both aware of the God within and the God without.

If we all on this small planet took this view then there would be an end to injstice and war, and the planet would be sustained and managed well. Anyway - that is my dream.


John King said...

My perspective has much in common with yours. What I find interesting is that humanity has reached a capability to alter our environment, the same environment that evolution tells us to which life adapts; and, we are also able to edit and modify our genes, the same genes that evolution tells us are adapting to the environment. It seems that humanity is coming close to being the creator of his own destiny for better or worse. What more could be the "image of God" than that? I wonder if a humanity that is going to create its own destiny will choose to have a science of purposeless and meaninglessness to be the sole determinate of how we choose our future or whether we will seek guidance from the values of faith.

JohnHet60 said...

Thanks John for your comment. Jumping to the part about purposeless science. I have no problem really with science and spirituality as two sides of the same coin - the coin being LIFE - the evolutionary drive and a its amazing scope for generating infinite difference. Its hard to say what is "natural" and what is "spirit" dancing togther to create Life and Being. The tag, "Thank God for evolution" is a tautology. Maybe its saying thank Evolution (or the life imperative)for the God in us.

It is when we co-create and begin to go beyond (in terms of travel into space) or beyond through inner experience that we are slowly becoming the "image of God" - but its hard to speculate the timescales and the ways forward - only glimpse them for now.

John King said...

Do not get me wrong. I have no problem with science either. I do not even have any problem with the chance that seems so necessary to the way we understand the natural world. I simply choose a human and scientific perspective that affirms purpose and meaning for our lives.