Man's Search For Higher Meaning...
Religion enshrines the best of man's aspirations, even though some terrible atrocities have been committed in the name of religion of all descriptions.
The aim of this page is to encourage all of us to see that under the surface every religion contains the same Truths.
Without religion, neither you nor I would be here to discuss it's merits. Religion has kept it's adherents for the most part from self-destruction for thousands of years, until humanity reaches a condition where further progress is possible.
Its interesting to note that psychology is beginning to see the truths inherent in religion. Not of course, the sometimes meaningless rites and ceremonies, whose original meanings are lost in the mists of time, but what the founders of those religions originally taught.
Psychology has found that pursuing material wealth is not satisfying for the person. In contrast, it is now understood from studies and research that living a life of moderate income and helping others wherever possible actually lengthens life!
And indeed, that is what the founders of all the great religions of the world understood. To live a good life without excesses of any kind is a good healthy life. The terrorists of today exemplify religion gone wrong. They are conditioned by their excessive zeal into beliefs that the founders of their religion would not have tolerated.
Another facet that has to be mentioned is that most religions have both outer and inner aspects. The outer aspect is the shell that forms the day-to-day life for the majority of its followers, complete with its rules, rites, ceremonies and traditions. This outer part is what most people see and understand as being the religion itself.
However, to use an analogy, that part is the tin in which the baked beans are found. Looking at the tin gives you some idea of what's inside, but not the reality. The beans inside are the reality, and have to be eaten to know what beans really taste like. This is the inner aspect of religion. This is the part that contains the essential truths, or the kernel of the religion, and has to be experienced. Essentially all religions teach the same basic truth - they are all beans, while the tins all have different coloured labels.
Here's a thought provoking and very peaceful video on TED. Beautiful words and music go together to make a lasting impression:
Only a very small percentage of people in the West have read the Islamic Holy Book - The Koran (or Qur'an) either in their own language, or it's native tongue Arabic. Lesley Hazleton on TED again gives a very interesting under ten minute talk about common misconceptions surrounding the book and some stereotypical beliefs we hold about it:
Ex nun Karen Armstrong in this very interesting twelve and a half minute interview on TVO explores what she calls The Axial Age from approximately 900 to 200 BC. She says that religion developed during this period in part because of increasing violence, in four distinct regions: China with Confucianism and Daoism; India with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism; Israel with monotheism; and China again (it may be possible that she meant Greece, though China did indeed produce philosophers such as Confucius etc) with philosphical rationalism. Her contention is that all religion contains much the same precepts:
In the following video Sean Meshorer starts off by outlining his experience in this subject. To note here is that this sort of knowledge takes time and effort to achieve. The layers of the onion of confusion and different terminologies have to be peeled away in the mind before understanding can come. Not for the faint hearted, but it can be done by applying effort in a sincere quest. He also tells us that once we remove the exoteric window dressing, all spiritual teachings reach a similar destination - just the route is different. Sean observes that it is the dogmatists and fundamentalists that create divisions, not those who really practice:
Dr Blain Auer from the Department of Comparative Religion in Western Michigan University outlines why we should study Comparative Religion. He says that even in modern times it is often to religion that people turn in their search for higher meaning. I might add that a sincere search can be undertaken without university courses, and indeed a deeper meaning may be achieved by one's own search, but for many this will be a step in the right direction to help frame the mind:
He who tastes, knows.